GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Steve Jbara’s not too worried about finding a home court next season for his Grand Rapids Gold NBA G League team.
“We were going to figure it out one way or another. But yeah, we’re close on where we want to be. At this point, it’s not a concern for us,” said Jbara, who talked with News 8 shortly after word came Wednesday the DeltaPlex will close this summer.
The Gold was a major tenant at the DeltaPlex in Walker.
Now, Jbara is looking for a place that seats at least 6,000 and can handle a 24-home game schedule. The ability to buy a beer at the concession stands is also on the wish list.
“Interestingly enough, there’s not a ton of options for us in Grand Rapids with the booze situation, but also the kind of a scheduling standpoint, too,” Jbara said.
And he wants to be in the city.
“I think we found the right partner. We’re kind of finishing up documentation and stuff,” Jbara said.
The soon-to-be-made announcement may be one of the worst kept secrets in town, because the only venue that fits Jbara’s requirements is Van Andel Arena downtown.
In a statement provided to News 8 Thursday, the team said any announcement won’t come until at least next week.
“Our team has been talking to several possible venues, including entertainment officials downtown, regarding a new home for the Gold. Any venue we select must meet specific criteria as laid out by the NBA and NBA G League and, of course, dates must be available too. We’re pleased with the direction of many of these conversations but have not made any final decisions or announcements.”
If it happens, it will mark the return of pro basketball to Van Andel Arena. The Grand Rapids Hoops played here starting in 1996 but left when they couldn’t fill enough seats.
Is the 11,000-seat Van Andel too big for minor league hoops? In Fort Wayne, the G League Mad Ants play at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum with a capacity of 13,000. The Windy City Bulls play at Now Arena in suburban Chicago with a capacity of 10,000. The Detroit Pistons’ Motor City Cruise play at Wayne State University’s Fieldhouse with a capacity of 3,000.
While he would only confirm that Van Andel Arena is part of the conversation on a new site, Jbara said a new home court may bring opportunities for new fans.
“This does give us an opportunity to reach people that maybe were guarded about coming to one of our games previously or were waiting for a new opportunity for us to be somewhere else,” Jbara said. “So, yeah, we’re looking at it as a positive.”