Sports

College Park Skyhawks To Start Play Next Month

The College Park Skyhawks open the season on Nov. 8 on the road against the Erie BayHawks.
The College Park Skyhawks open the season on Nov. 8 on the road against the Erie BayHawks.
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The Atlanta area has a new hoops team.

The College Park Skyhawks, the Atlanta Hawks’ G-League affiliate, will be taking the court next month. The city of College Park has built a new arena, the $45 million Gateway Center at College Park, to accommodate them.

College Park economic development director Artie Jones III said the 100,000-foot facility will be more than just a basketball arena.

“This particular facility is also going to double as a venue for comedy shows, concerts, convocations and other types of collegiate and high school-type events,” Jones said.

The city wasn’t planning on building a new arena. The original plan was to expand the Georgia International Convention Center. There were eight acres available for expansion on the west side of the center. However, when officials from the Atlanta Hawks approached them with the idea of bringing a team to the city, they saw an opportunity for potential economic growth.

“When we started talking with the Hawks organization about having an arena here or a multi-purpose arena here within the city of College Park, this project felt like it was kind of meant to be,” Jones said.

The city has several projects in the works for the Gateway Campus. A new Marriott AC hotel is scheduled to open in December. A 300-room Sheraton hotel is currently under construction. There will be a Tru By Hilton hotel under contract behind the arena.

As for the Skyhawks, this will be their first season in College Park but their third season overall. In November 2016, the Atlanta Hawks bought rights to own and operate a team in the former NBA D-League. Later that year, the Orlando Magic bought the original Erie BayHawks. They moved the team to Florida and renamed it the Lakeland Magic. The Hawks negotiated with the original owners to use the BayHawks name and began to play in the rebranded G-League during the 2017-2018 season while the arena was under construction. College Park native and Grammy-winning rapper 2 Chainz joined the ownership team this year.

The team finished first in the Southeast Division and lost in the conference finals to the Raptors 905, the Toronto Raptors G-League affiliate, in their first season. The College Park Skyhawks will be looking to rebound from last season where they finished last in the division and missed the playoffs. They open the season on Nov. 8 on the road against the Erie BayHawks (New Orleans Pelicans affiliate that will move to Birmingham, Alabama, in 2022.)  Their first home game will be Nov. 21 against the Delaware Bluecoats.