NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans to establish a Birmingham G League team in 2022

Representatives of the New Orleans Pelicans, Mayor Woodfin and the BJCC’s Tad Snider. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Yesterday, the New Orleans Pelicans and the NBA G League announced that the Pelicans have acquired the right to own and operate an NBA G League team that will play in Birmingham at Legacy Arena for the 2022-2023 season.

Over the next couple of years, the Pelicans G League team will be located in Erie, Pennsylvania. The name and identity of Birmingham’s team will be determined once the Pelicans organization engages with the community and sees what name/mascot best represents the city.

“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.”

Regional footprint

Legacy Arena . Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Pelicans President Dennis Lauscha stressed the role Birmingham will play in the expansion of the NBA franchise’s footprint.

“We are a little market in New Orleans, that is about the same size that is in Birmingham, Turner stated. “We always hear about the big markets. One way we are able to compete against the big markets is to have a big footprint – and that footprints extends all the way to Birmingham.”

Giving back to the community

Birmingham City Council President Valerie Abbott, Pelicans owner Gayle Benson and Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

The New Orleans Pelicans, which is owed by the Benson family (they also on the Saints), are known for their local philanthropy in the Crescent City. Birmingham’s Mayor Randall Woodfin expects that same commitment to occur in the Magic City.

“This organization (Pelicans) really knows what it means to invest in their community and the younger generation,” said Woodfin.  “They are not coming here to simply play a game. They are coming here to be an active member of our community. That’s pretty cool. We stand with you.”

The BJCC loves basketball

New Orlean Pelicans Head Coach Alvin Gentry talks basketball and life to a group of Birmingham, Alabama students. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

The first season in Birmingham will occur in 2022 after renovations to the BJCC  and Legacy Arena are completed.

“If this building knows one thing, it knows basketball,” declared Tad Snider, CEO of Legacy Arena and BJCC.

“When you think back beginning in 1976, we were the home of the UAB Blazers under Gene Bartow, we hosted the Men’s SEC tournament for 5 years, numerous regional NCAA tournaments and the state high school championships.  This building loves basketball.”

Future NBA stars

New Orleans Pelicans Head Coach Alvin Gentry addresses press conference at the BJCC. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

The NBA G League is a proven developer of talent. A record 40 percent of NBA players to start the 2018-19 season had NBA G League experience, while 33 players selected in the 2017 NBA Draft played in the NBA G League last season. Fans can learn more about the Birmingham G League franchise by visiting www.birminghamhoops.com

4 New Pro teams

One final note.  The new NBA G League team is  the 4th sports franchise to locate in Birmingham over the past two years. Birmingham now has pro teams in soccer (Birmingham Legion), hockey (Birmingham Bulls), football (Birmingham Iron) and basketball.

Author: Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.