Birmingham Squadron owner promises more than a basketball team

Birmingham Squadron
New Orleans Pelicans and Birmingham Squadron owner Gayle Benson. Photo via Tira Davis for Bham Now

In a meeting with local media outlets this week, New Orleans Pelicans and Birmingham Squadron owner Gayle Benson promised to produce a NBA G League franchise that is more than a basketball team.

“We’re going to invest in this community, just like we invest in New Orleans,” stated Benson. “We’ve done a lot of investing there (New Orleans) in their community and people in organizations, and so we want to do the same thing here. We are laying the groundwork.”

The Birmingham Squadron tip-off their inaugural season in the NBA G League at Legacy Arena this coming December.  

Already Investing in Magic City Startups

Birmingham Squadron
New Orleans Pelicans owner Gayle Benson and Pelicans President Dennis Lauscha address press gathering on August 18, 2021. Photo via Tira Davis for Bham Now

Earlier this summer, the new NBA minor league team has signaled they will do more for the community than play basketball.

Echoing Benson’s commitment, Pelicans President Dennis Lauscha told the group that one way the team is strengthening their ties to Birmingham is by investing in startups. 

“We have a venture capital fund that’s attempting to bring economic development to the region,” said Lauscha, whose alma mater is the University of Alabama . “We invested in two or three companies already in the Birmingham market.”

This summer Benson Capital Partners announced major investments toward local startups Wyndy and Prepaid to Cash.

Fan Experience

Birmingham Squadron
New Orleans Pelicans and Birmingham Squadron owner Gayle Benson. Photo via Birmingham Squadron

Along with economic development, Lauscha, who is also President of the New Orleans Saints, is eager to produce a top notch fan experience here in the Magic City.

“I feel very strongly that Birmingham is a major league city. We’re investing in the game. What you’re going to see is going to be a major league production, said Lauscha. 

With some of the most loyal fans, the Saints rank number one year after year in NFL fan experience.. The Pelicans are highly rated too. Benson and Lauscha plan to duplicate the family friendly atmosphere here in Birmingham. 

Legacy Arena 3 Birmingham Squadron owner promises more than a basketball team
Legacy Arena in downtown Birmingham under construction. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

They are also excited to begin their inaugural season in the newly renovated Legacy Arena.

“Kudos to the city and the folks who are working on the arena. It is spectacular and something the community should be very proud of. I’ve been to a number of arenas around the country— this arena is just as beautiful as anything I’ve seen so that’s another reason why we’re here today,” Lauscha added.

The Squadron is Coming

Birmingham Squadron
New logo of the Birmingham Squadron. Photo via Birmingham Squadron

The excitement is building.  From the recent naming of the team — the Squadron —which is the  word used to describe a flock of Pelicans to the commitment of the owner  — Mrs. Benson – one of the most beloved NFL and NBA team owners.

“Birmingham has shown us how excited they are. It is a great relationship. I’m so excited to be a part of it.” 

Planning to see the Birmingham Squadron play in the Legacy Arena? Tag us @bhamnow to let us know!

Pat Byington
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.

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