Shreveport vying for NBA d-league team, mayor wants sports arena

Updated: May. 19, 2017 at 1:26 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The city of Shreveport is in the running to host an NBA Development League team that would begin playing in 2018.

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According to the National Basketball Association, six cities have expressed an interest to host the team: Baton Rouge, LA, Jackson, MS, Mobile, AL, Pensacola, FL, St. Tammany Parish, LA and Shreveport, LA.

The cities sent their requests on March 30, according to an NBA announcement published April 25.

"The six locations will have until June 7, 2017 to submit a complete and comprehensive proposal to the Pelicans," the announcement stated.

Shreveport City Leaders are asking different government entities and other groups for their support in their intention to bring the team to the city, spokesman Africa Price said.

The city will include the letters of support in their proposal.

Price provided a sample letter of support that asks organizations to fill in the blanks as to how the team would benefit their organization and the community.

The letter states:

Shreveport is experiencing a wave of support for our local sports teams. Between the inaugural seasons of the Shreveport Rafters National Premier Soccer League team and the reintroduction of the Shreveport Mudbugs North American Hockey League team in 2016, our community is showing up in overwhelming numbers to cheer for and place a vote of confidence in local athletics.

A team affiliated with the beloved New Orleans Pelicans is destined to succeed in this area. The support from the community, local government, and state of the art facilities will provide a loving home for this team for years to come.

In a statement released early Friday afternoon, the city called for "all hoops fans" to come to a "Shreveport Pelican" pep rally Thursday, May 25 at 6 p.m. at the new BHP Billiton YMCA. 

"One of the ways to boost Shreveport's chances in having the high-performance professional sport team come to our community is to show as much excitement and enthusiasm as possible from the fans," the statement said.

Price said the city is interested in "having a sports arena" for the team to play in, but the city is not yet seeking funding of any such arena with any government body.

Specifically, Price says Mayor Tyler is proposing a new downtown sports complex that will not only be home to the NBA G-League team, but also provide a mid-sized sports event center (3,500-5,000 seats) for year-round activity. That activity could include local, state and regional basketball, volleyball, tennis, gymnastics, boxing, cheer competitions, indoor field hockey, soccer, and lacrosse tournaments, just to name a few. The decision for this type multi-use sports complex was based on information and research of other successful mid-sized NBA G-League cities.

As far as why Shreveport doesn't consider using the CenturyLink center instead, Price said, "The City of Shreveport was approached by the Pelicans and CenturyLink is too large for the size arena they want."

As part of the city's Request for Proposal (RFP) that will be submitted next month, a video commercial highlighting the area will be included and those who attend the pep rally "will have the opportunity to be filmed in this exciting media tool to lure the team to our city."

"Shreveport is extremely excited to be invited by the Pelicans to submit an RFP for their NBA G-League team," said Mayor Ollie Tyler in the statement. "This is a great opportunity for not only the City of Shreveport, but the entire region in providing a great family-friendly venue, as well as creating a significant economic driver in job creation and attracting outside tourism for the city's future success."

According to the NBA, the league will soon be known as the NBA Gatorade League or NBA G League for short. It will be owned by New Orleans Pelicans Owner Tom Benson and be an affiliate of the team.

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