Wizards another step away from moving to California


From the day the Golden State Warriors bought the Dakota Wizards last June, it seemed inevitable that Bismarck would lose its

D-League team.

Now only a formality stands between the Wizards becoming the Santa Cruz Warriors.

Early Wednesday morning the Santa Cruz city council voted 7-0 to appropriate funds and finish a deal that will result in the Wizards moving to the California community for the 2012-13 season.

The last hurdle for the Warriors to clear is getting approval from the D-League for the relocation. That could be a matter of days or weeks.

D-League president Dan Reed was not available for comment. Joanna Shapiro, the D-League’s coordinator of basketball communications, said the league is still reviewing the matter, but that it is moving quickly.

Kirk Lacob, the Warriors assistant general manager, said that once construction schedules and architectural plans are finalized he expects the move to get the green light. He added that the Warriors have been getting feedback from other teams and the league as Santa Cruz evaluated the proposal.

“We’ve been dealing with the league the whole time, getting their tacit approval,” Lacob said. “They want to do things like make sure the facility will be up to standards and know how it is being seen by the local community. “... Their main concern is whether this will work for basketball, and we’ve shown them that every answer is ‘yes.’”

Golden State already has a web site up for the Santa Cruz Warriors and is taking deposits for season tickets.

It was nearly 1:30 a.m. CDT on Wednesday when Santa Cruz City Council finally completed the vote. The terms of the agreement call for the city to loan the Warriors $3.5 million — $1 million more than originally called for — to build a semi-permanent facility in Santa Cruz.

Lacob said the Warriors were pleased with the result.

“On behalf of the Golden State Warriors organization, I’m proud of what we have accomplished thus far,” Lacob said. “We are very excited about the (D-League) team’s future in Santa Cruz and the opportunity to extend the reach of the Warriors’ brand. We will continue to work hard and innovate to bring our fans new and exciting activities and give the Warriors the best chance to win on the court.

“We would again like to thank the city and fans in Bismarck for everything they accomplished and did for us and the team,” Lacob added. “It will not be forgotten.“

Some of the details of the project, including the cost and seating capacity of the arena, have changed since the proposal was initially put together in April.

“The core of the deal is the same,” Lacob said. “There could still be a couple of tweaks to be made, but the structure of the deal is in place.

“There’s really no turning back from here,” Lacob said. “... (We) just need to finalize the terms into binding legal language.”

The Wizards have been located in Bismarck since 1995 and are the second-oldest franchise currently operating in minor league basketball. The team has won four championships in three different leagues — the International Basketball Association, the Continental Basketball Association, and the D-League.

The Warriors purchased the Wizards last June and immediately announced they would consider moving the team. The Wizards do have one more year remaining on their lease at the Bismarck Civic Center, but the buyout cost is only $40,000.

Coincidentally, the Warriors also announced Tuesday that they are planning to move the NBA club from Oakland to San Francisco in 2017, making it two potential franchise shifts in one 24-hour span for the ownership group.

Get News Alerts delivered directly to you.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Reach sports editor Lou Babiarz at 250-8243 or Lou.Babiarz@bismarcktribune.com.