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October 23, 2018
Multiple media outlets are reporting that a National Basketball Association team, the New Orleans Pelicans, will soon announce they will be placing an NBA G-League team in Birmingham.

     G League logo
   
Currently, all but three NBA teams have affiliate teams in the G-League; New Orleans, the Denver Nuggets, and the Portland Trail Blazers.

The NBA G-League, typically called the G-League, is the official minor league of the NBA. The league was created to allow players, coaches, officials, and front office staff to work their way up to the NBA.

The league began play in the 2001-02 season as the National Basketball Development League, with the original eight franchises located in the southeast (Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia).

Beginning with the 2005-06 season, the NBDL was renamed the NBA Development League, or the NBA D-League, as part of a new collective bargaining agreement with the NBA and a bid to appeal to more fans by showing their connection to the major league. By 2015, the last multiple-affiliate team, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, was purchased by the Indiana Pacers leading to the first season where all D-League teams were affiliated with only one NBA team. As there were no longer any unaffiliated D-League teams left, the remaining NBA teams began purchasing expansion franchises or hybrid partnership teams and placing them near the parent team.

Before the 2017-18 season, the D-League entered into a multi-year partnership with Gatorade to became the title sponsor of the D-League, and the league was renamed the NBA Gatorade League, or NBA G-League for short.

Starting with the 2019–20 season, the G-League will begin to offer Select Contracts to players that are not yet eligible to enter the NBA draft. Since 2006, players that aren't at least 19 years old by the end of the calendar year have been ineligible, creating what became known as the "one-and-done" rule where players joined a college basketball team for one season and then left for the NBA. The new Select Contract is to be an alternative for players who do not want, or cannot, attend a college and is worth up to $125,000 for a season.

     National Basketball Development League logo      NBA D-League logo
  National Basketball
Development League logo
  NBA Development League logo
       
Along with Birmingham, the Pelicans have been in discussions with Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Jackson (MS), Mobile, Pensacola. The other cities have been dropped over time for varying reasons.

It is anticipated the team will eventually play in the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex's Legacy Arena. However, the city already had plans in place for a $125 million renovation of the arena. Outside, the plans include aesthetic enhancements such as a new facade, new entrances, and a new design of the piazza for a more open plan that provides better pedestrian flow between the arena, concert hall, and theater. Inside, the renovation will add a suite level, premium club space, and enhancements to improve crowd flow.

With the construction going on, the new team could not play in Legacy Arena until the 2020-21 season. The Pelicans are expected to announce that the team will play one year in Erie, Pennsylvania before moving to Birmingham.

The Erie BayHawks have been in the league since the 2008-09 season. In 2016, the Orlando Magic purchased the BayHawks with the intention of moving the team to Lakeland (FL) for the 2017-18 season. The Atlanta Hawks had planned to start a new G League team in College Park (GA) for the 2019-20 season but the BayHawks original owners petitioned the Hawks to activate their franchise a year early and play in Erie for a year. After this season, the Hawks will move their team, leaving Erie without a G-League franchise. With the Pelicans needing an arena for one season, Erie would seem to be an excellent choice as a temporary home for the Birmingham team.

As part of the $300 million plan, a new open-air stadium will be built near the BJCC, with UAB football as a main tenant. Once built, other teams could possibly play in the stadium, such as the Alliance of American Football's Birmingham Iron and the United Soccer League's Birmingham Legion. Both of those teams are set to begin play in 2019.

The G-League schedule runs from November to March and teams typically play around 25 home games.

October 24, 2018
     New Orleans Pelicans logo
   
At a press conference in Birmingham, the New Orleans Pelicans formally announce they will place an NBA G-League team in the city.

While renovations take place at the Legacy Arena, the team will begin play as the Erie BayHawks and could move to Birmingham as early as the 2020-21 season. If the upgrades take longer than expected, the team will remain in Erie for another year before moving here.

No team name was announced but the Birmingham community will be involved in the process of selecting the nickname. “We’ll start having some fun in naming the team, (by) engaging the fans. And do some other fun marketing things in Birmingham, over the next two years,” New Orleans Pelicans president Dennis Lauscha said.

Lauscha said Birmingham was chosen for a number of reasons. “We started studying the demographics and looking at the Legacy Arena, and discussed the various improvements that are going to be made in the arena. At the end of the day, we were very impressed with their vision and are very bullish on the market.”

Lauscha noted that based on metrics used by the G-League to determine the strength of markets, Birmingham received high marks, in areas such as the demographics of sports fans and TV market size. In addition, the city is in close proximity to New Orleans, allowing players and team personnel to easily shuttle between the two locations. “Having the players feel like they’re still connected to the team while they’re on assignment is very important,” Pelicans general manager Dell Demps said. Demps was also an assistant coach and GM in the G-League.

Pelicans owner Gayle Benson is excited for the possibilities. “This is a tremendous day for the Pelicans organization. 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 were established in 2002 as the New Orleans Hornets when owner Charlotte Hornets owner George Shinn moved his franchise. Due to the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the franchise temporarily relocated to Oklahoma City, where they spent two seasons officially known as the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. The team returned to New Orleans full-time for the 2007–08 season.

In December of 2010, the NBA purchased the Hornets from Shinn for an estimated $300 million. On April 13, 2012, it was announced that Tom Benson, owner of the National Football League's New Orleans Saints, had purchased the franchise from the NBA for $338 million. Upholding Tom Benson's statement that the team would soon be renamed to better reflect the region, the franchise would become the New Orleans Pelicans after the 2012-13 season.

     Photograph
  New Orleans Pelicans owner
Gayle Benson
   
On March 15, 2018, Tom Benson died from flu complications and ownership of the Pelicans and the Saints were transferred to Benson's widow, Gayle Benson.

The NBA G-League is a proven developer of talent. A record 40% of NBA players to start the 2018-19 season had G-League experience, while 33 players selected in the 2017 NBA Draft played in the G-League last season.

December 9, 2020
The Pelicans organization announce they are holding a 'name the team' contest that will run from to day until December 23rd. Submissions will be accepted through the Pelicans website.

“This is a great way for the community to share the names that they think would represent the city of Birmingham and this exciting new team. From the beginning, we’ve said that we want the city of Birmingham to be involved in this process. This allows them the opportunity to support the team and we are eagerly waiting to see the submissions, ”said Lauscha.

The Erie BayHawks are "estimated" to relocate to Birmingham starting for the 2021-22 season.

The Pelicans expect to announce the team name in the first quarter of 2021.

April 8, 2021
     Erie BayHawks logo
   
Erie BayHawks management announces they will cease operations in the coming weeks due to not having an NBA team affiliation next season.

“We’ve made the determination that we will cease operations in the coming weeks due to not being unable to find another NBA partner, or other adequate opportunity, to keep G-League basketball in Erie. This result is merely a reflection of the changing landscape of the NBA as many teams prefer their G-League affiliate be located nearby, and Erie simply is not positioned geographically to provide that. While we’re saddened by this for our fans and the Erie community, we are deeply appreciative of the tremendous support the BayHawks received over the past 13 years," said Matt Bresee, BayHawks president.

June 1, 2021
It is reported that the local G-League team will not make its home debut until January. The organization decided to start the season on the road in November and December rather than play some home games in local college arenas until the upgrades at Legacy Arena are complete.

"You only get one chance to make a first impression. We want the focus to be on Legacy Arena. That will be our home," said general manager David Lane.

July 26, 2020
The Pelicans announce that the team name will be Birmingham Squadron.

In their explanation for the name, a group of Pelicans is known as a "squadron".

For the logo, they offered the following:
  • Vulcan's spear is represented by the top of the star down to the two tips at the bottom.
  • The left and right sections of the star represent wings of a pelican.
  • The gear around the basketball are a nod to Birmingham's industrial past.
  • The white crescent around the ball is in homage to the culture, the people, and spirit of New Orleans.
     Photograph
  Head coach Ryan Pannone
   
The colors will be the same as the Pelicans use, red, white, blue, and gold. The font for all team wordmarks will be the same font the Pelicans use.

The Squadron head coach will be Ryan Pannone, who was also the head coach of the Erie BayHawks since 2019.

The Clearwater, Florida native's first head coaching position was at Oldsmar Christian School from 2006 to 2011. Pannone's first brush with our state was in 2011-12 when he served as an assistant coach at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville. From there he moved to China as an assistant with the Foshan Long Lions. In 2013, he worked as an assistant coach for the Memphis Grizzlies in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. He then worked for the D-League's Erie BayHawks, followed by a year in Germany. Between 2015 and 2017, he worked for the LG Lakers in South Korea. 2016-17 found him working as an assistant coach in Israel. He was named head coach of BC Prievidza of the Slovak Basketball League in 2017. In 2018, he returned to Hapoel in  Jerusalem as an assistant coach. In 2019, Pannone was a member of the New Orleans Pelicans’ NBA Summer League coaching staff and was soon named head coach of the BayHawks.

November 2021

NBA G-League logo 2020-21                             
NBA G-League                             
xxx   xxx   xxx   xxx   xxx   xxx
  Agua Caliente Clippers logo   Austin Spurs logo   Birmingham Squadron logo   Capital City Go-Go logo   Cleveland Charge logo  
  Agua Caliente Clippers   Austin Spurs   Birmingham Squadron   Capital City Go-Go   Cleveland Charge  
                     
  College Park Skyhawks logo   Delaware Blue Coats logo   Fort Wayne Mad Ants logo   Grand Rapids Gold logo   Greensboro Swarm logo  
  College Park Skyhawks   Delaware Blue Coats   Fort Wayne Mad Ants   Grand Rapids Gold   Greensboro Swarm  
                     
  Iowa Wolves logo   Lakeland Magic logo   Long Island Nets logo   Maine Celtics logo   Memphis Hustle logo  
  Iowa Wolves   Lakeland Magic   Long Island Nets   Maine Celtics   Memphis Hustle  
                     
  Mexico City Captains logo   Motor City Cruise logo   G-League Ignite logo   Oklahoma City Blue logo   Raptors 905 logo  
  Mexico City Captains   Motor City Cruise   NBA G-League Ignite   Oklahoma City Blue   Raptors 905  
                     
  Rio Grande Valley Vipers logo   Salt Lake City Stars logo   Santa Cruz Warriors logo   Sioux Falls Skyforce logo   South Bay Lakers logo  
  Rio Grande Valley Vipers   Salt Lake City Stars   Santa Cruz Warriors   Sioux Falls Skyforce   South Bay Lakers  
                     
  Stockton Kings logo   Texas Legends logo   Westchester Knicks logo   Windy City Bulls logo   Wisconsin Herd logo  
  Stockton Kings   Texas Legends   Westchester Knicks   Windy City Bulls   Wisconsin Herd  
                     

Champions of the
NBDL/D-League/G-League
Year Team Year Team
  2001-02     Greenville Groove   2021-22     TBD    
2002-03   Mobile Revelers    
2003-04   Asheville Altitude    
2004-05   Asheville Altitude (2nd)    
2005-06   Albuquerque Thunderbirds    
2006-07   Dakota Wizards    
2007-08   Idaho Stampede    
2008-09   Colorado 14ers    
2009-10   Rio Grande Valley Vipers    
2010-11   Iowa Energy    
2011-12   Austin Toros    
2012-13   Rio Grande Valley Vipers (2nd)      
2013-14   Fort Wayne Mad Ants    
2014-15   Santa Cruz Warriors    
2015-16   Sioux Falls Skyforce    
2016-17   Raptors 905    
2017-18   Austin Spurs    
2018-19   Rio Grande Valley Vipers (3rd)    
2019-20   Season cancelled: COVID-19    
2020-21   Lakeland Magic     
   
           Years local team participated


NBA G-League logo Previous Teams of the                               
NBDL/D-League/G-League                               
xxx   xxx   xxx   xxx   xxx   xxx
  Albuquerque Thunderbirds logo   Anaheim Arsenal logo   Arkansas RimRockers logo   Asheville Altitude logo   Austin Toros logo  
  Albuquerque Thunderbirds
2005-06 to 2009-10
  Anaheim Arsenal
2006-07 to 2008-09
  Arkansas RimRockers
2005-06 to 2006-07
  Asheville Altitude
2001-02 to 2004-05
  Austin Toros
2005-06 to 2013-14
 
                     
  Bakersfield Jam logo   Canton Charge logo   Charleston Lowgators logo   Colorado 14ers logo   Columbus Riverdragons logo  
  Bakersfield Jam
2006-07 to 2015-16
  Canton Charge
2011-12 to 2020-21
  Charleston Lowgators
2003-04
  Colorado 14ers
2006-07 to 2008-09
  Columbus Riverdragons
2001-02 to 2004-05
 
                     
  Dakota Wizards logo   Delaware 87ers logo   Erie BayHawks logo   Fayetteville Patriots logo   Florida Flame logo  
  Dakota Wizards
2006-07 to 2011-12
  Delaware 87ers
2013-14 to 2017-18
  Erie BayHawks
2008-09 to 2020-21
  Fayetteville Patriots
2001-02 to 2005-06
  Florida Flame
2004-05 to 2005-06
 
                     
  Fort Worth Flyers logo   Grand Rapids Drive logo   Greenville Groove logo   Huntsville Flight logo   Idaho Stampede logo  
  Fort Worth Flyers
2005-06 to 2006-07
  Grand Rapids Drive
2014-15 to 2019-20
  Greenville Groove
2001-02 to 2002-03
  Huntsville Flight
2001-02 to 2004-05
  Idaho Stampede
2006-07 to 2015-16
 
                     
  Iowa Energy logo   Los Angeles D-Fenders logo   Maine Red Claws logo   Mobile Revelers logo   New Mexico Thunderbirds logo  
  Iowa Energy
2007-08 to 2016-17
  Los Angeles D-Fenders
2006-07 to 2009-10;
2011-12 to 2016-17
  Maine Red Claws
2009-10 to 2019-20
  Mobile Revelers
2001-02 to 2002-03
  New Mexico Thunderbirds
2010-11
 
                     
  North Charleston Lowgators logo   Northern Arizona Suns logo   Reno Bighorns logo   Roanoke Dazzle logo   Springfield Armor logo  
  North Charleston Lowgators
2001-02 to 2002-03
  Northern Arizona Suns
2016-17 to 2019-20
  Reno Bighorns
2008-09 to 2017-18
  Roanoke Dazzle
2001-02 to 2005-06
  Springfield Armor
2009-10 to 2013-14
 
                     
  Tulsa 66ers logo   Utah Flash logo              
  Tulsa 66ers
2005-06 to 2013-14
  Utah Flash
2007-08 to 2010-11
             
                     
 
 
 
Contact Gene Crowley
Last update: August 03, 2021