BIRMINGHAM, Ala – The New Orleans Pelicans and the NBA G League announced Wednesday that the Pelicans have acquired the right to own and operate an NBA G League team that will play in the renovated Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama. The team is expected to debut in Birmingham in the 2022-23 season following the renovations. With the announcement, the NBA G League expands to a record 28 teams for the 2019-20 season.
In an effort to accelerate player development, the team will begin play next season in Erie, Pennsylvania, as the Erie BayHawks, while its permanent home at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) undergoes renovations. The name and identity of the team in Birmingham will be announced at a later date. The Pelicans organization will engage with the Birmingham community to determine an identity that best represents the city and the region.
“I’m so pleased to welcome the New Orleans Pelicans to the NBA G League’s growing family,” said NBA G League President Malcolm Turner. “The Pelicans join the league at an exciting time: We’re on the brink of 30 teams and are coming off our most productive season to date. I look forward to fans in Birmingham enjoying NBA G League basketball for seasons to come.”
“This is a tremendous day for the Pelicans organization,” said Pelicans owner Gayle Benson. “I’d like to thank the City of Birmingham, Mayor Woodfin and Tad Snider of the BJCC for being such fantastic partners in the endeavor. These are exciting times for this region, and we feel so fortunate to be a part of it.”
The Pelicans will partner with the BayHawks’ current management team, led by Owen McCormick and Matt Bresee, to operate the team in Erie. Most recently, the group in Erie has been in partnership with the Atlanta Hawks to host that team’s NBA G League affiliate while its arena in College Park, Georgia, is being completed. Erie has been the home to an NBA G League team since the 2008-09 season.
Located just under 350 miles northeast of New Orleans, Legacy Arena will undergo a $123 million renovation and expansion prior to welcoming an NBA G League team. As part of the updates to the building, enhancements to Legacy Arena will include a new façade, new entrances and an expansion that will add a suite level and premium club space.
“We’re thrilled to have the Pelicans coming to Birmingham,” said Birmingham Mayor Woodfin. “We have worked hard to make sure we have the right assets in place so that we’re ready when opportunities come along to make our community an even better place to live. This is good for our residents, it’s good for our economy and it’s a great day for Birmingham.”