After five seasons in Springfield, the city’s NBA Development League team is reportedly moving to Michigan.
Officials from the Springfield Armor and the D-League are not commenting. But according to the news website MLive.com, the Armor is being sold to undisclosed owners in Michigan. They plan to move the team to the Grand Rapids area for the 2014-15 season.
“It certainly hurts,” says Jeff Giuffreda, president of the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield.
Giuffreda says he’s disappointed by the news, which he says comes as downtown development is picking up.
“What happens with these sports teams is, one, it’s good for the existing business,” he says. “But, two, as the crowds grow, you find new businesses opening up…around the area. With the loss of this team, those folks that might have been willing to start those small businesses up might pause. But I’m thinking and I’m hoping that it’s a momentary pause and they’ll still go forward.”
News of the move comes just days after the Armor’s final regular season home game Friday at the MassMutual Center, when the team reported its first sell-out in franchise history.
An official with the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, which operates the MassMutual Center, confirmed that its contract to host the Armor expires in May and no negotiations were forthcoming to renew it.
In a statement, James Rooney, the MCCA’s executive director, says it is unfortunate the Armor was unable to draw enough attendance to support their future in Springfield. But he says if there was a silver lining to this loss, it is that the MassMutual Center will be able to book more events and family activities into the arena, as well as provide better game dates for the Falcons, Springfield’s AHL franchise that also plays its home games at the center.