After visiting the Crescent City this week to present to New Orleans Pelicans executives, Pensacola city officials have released details about their proposal to recruit the NBA’s newest minor league team to Pensacola.
Pelicans executives reached out to Hayward’s office in March, inviting Pensacola to submit a proposal to host the Pelicans’ NBA development league team, which is set to begin play in the 2018-2019 season. The team would be owned and operated by New Orleans’ Benson family, which owns the Pelicans as well as the New Orleans Saints football team.
The proposal sent to the Pelicans outlines how the 35-year-old Bay Center could be utilized by the yet-to-be-named team. Escambia County owns the arena and would be responsible for negotiating rental rates for the Bay Center, along with agreements for concessions, advertising, and other specifics requirements by the team. The Bay Center is managed by SMG, which also manages the Superdome and Smoothie King Center in New Orleans
The city’s proposal outlines the facilities available at the Pensacola Bay Center, which already owns a hardwood basketball court that’s been used for the Harlem Globetrotters and other events. City officials also identified the Vickrey Community Center as a potential practice facility for the team.
Pelicans list of potential cities narrows
In its initial search, the Pelicans selected 11 locations to potentially host the NBA’s newest G-League team. When that list was narrowed in March, Pensacola was one of six finalist cities to host the new team, along with Mobile, Ala., Jackson, Miss., and Baton Rouge, Shreveport, and St. Tammany Parish in Louisiana.
As of Friday, both St. Tammany Parish and Mobile had officially ended their bids for the team. While St. Tammany Parish officials declined to comment, the City of Mobile cited ongoing issues with its 53-year-old civic center as one of the primary causes for not submitting a proposal to the Pelicans.
“After a comprehensive review, the City of Mobile chose not to submit a proposal to the Pelicans,” George Talbot, Director of Communications for the City of Mobile, said Friday. “Simply put, the timing was not right.”
Requests for comment from Jackson and Baton Rouge officials were not returned but the Shreveport Times reported this week that Baton Rouge officials said they would not submit a proposal without concessions from the Pelicans.
The City of Shreveport has proposed building a $25 million facility to host the new team. Shreveport officials said if chosen, the team would have to play in an alternate facility until a new arena was funded and built.
Read the City of Pensacola’s proposal to the Pelicans: