Bismarck Arena Fears Loss Of Team

Arena officials in North Dakota’s capital city are bracing for the possible loss of an NBA Development League team as Santa Cruz, Calif., tries to woo the Dakota Wizards.

“Anytime you lose a prime tenant for 17 years, it’s going to hurt right off the bat,” Civic Center manager Charlie Jeske told The Bismarck Tribune. “If we can get additional dates _ whether it’s another team coming in or a few more concerts or conventions _ maybe at the end of day it won’t hurt as bad as everybody thinks.”

The Santa Cruz City Council is to vote early next month on spending $2.5 million on a 3,200-seat arena for the Wizards, a team that was bought last year by the NBA’s Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are based in Oakland, about 70 miles north of Santa Cruz.

“It’s a situation where players could come back and forth quite easily, and the same way with coaches,”áWarriors general manager Larry Riley said. “They can at least be right in tune with what’s going on on a day-to-day basis with the Warriors. It should make the developmental process go quite a bit better.”

The relocation also would have to be approved by the D-League.

“If everything goes through, the team will go to Santa Cruz,” Wizards General Manager Kirk Lacob said.

Jeske told KXMB-TV that he expected the Wizards to honor the final year of their contract, which the team can buy out for $40,000. If the team leaves, it will open up 25 dates that the Civic Center will have to fill.

The Wizards began operating in 1995 as members of the International Basketball Association, later moving to the Continental Basketball Association and then to the D-League starting with the 2006-07 season.

Santa Cruz City Manager Martin Bernal told the Santa Cruz Sentinel that he is optimistic about landing the Wizards.

“Everybody has been real excited about just the idea of being able to … expand the Santa Cruz brand and another way to extend the tourism season and add to our activities,” he said.