A rumor came out last week that the Clippers were in the final stages of creation for a G-League team to be placed in Ontario, California. Today, Doc Rivers confirmed the team at a press conference. The name: The Agua Caliente (hot water) Clippers of Ontario.
The Agua Caliente casino is a longtime sponsor of the Clippers, and the use of sponsorship in the name is a first both in the G-League and the NBA. The Agua Caliente are a band in the larger Cahuila tribe, and are not going to be represented as a mascot of the team, thus avoiding any potential controversy.
The Agua Caliente Clippers will play at Citizens Business Bank Arena, built and owned by the city of Ontario. Already utilized by minor league hockey and arena soccer teams, the arena can hold over 10,000 people, a substantial number for a G-League team.
Ontario is a city approximately 26 miles east of Los Angeles. That might be far for potential season ticket holders to travel, but is quick enough to make player demotions and call-ups on a “day of” basis. This will enable the higher-ups at the NBA organization to keep a close eye on the progress of the minor leaguers, and ensure that things are going smoothly during the first season or two.
The placement of the “AC” Clippers in the Inland Empire is also a strategic move that could help to increase fandom of the LA Clippers. It should reach out to fans throughout the San Bernardino and Orange Counties, providing them with easy access to professional basketball. If locals become fans of the G-League team, it might well influence them to become fans of the big-league team as well.
This is a massive step forward for the Clippers’ organization, as they can finally develop and manage their own youth movement close to home. While the Clippers don’t have any draft picks in 2017, it wouldn’t be surprising to see their 2nd round pick from 2016, David Michineau, in Ontario next season.
The Agua Caliente Clippers will start play in the 2017-2018 season, and will offer 24 home games. Season tickets are already available.
We at Clips Nation will have more on what this means for the Clippers’ franchise in the coming weeks.