The Canton Charge are no more.
Instead, they will go by the Cleveland Charge next season as the Cleveland Cavaliers G-League affiliate is set to begin play downtown next season at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center. A decision was made recently not to extend their expired lease at the Canton Memorial Civic Center, ending a 10-year, nine-season stay at the Civic Center, which served as the team’s first home venue after the franchise was acquired by the Cavaliers, relocated from New Mexico and rebranded as the Canton Charge in 2011.
“We want to thank Mayor Bernabei, the City of Canton and our Charge fans and partners for a decade of excitement at the Civic Center,” said Rock Entertainment Group CEO Len Komoroski in a statement. “When we acquired the franchise and relocated it here to Northeast Ohio, our goal was to create the best operation and experience in the G-League, both on the court and off. We’ve had success working towards both those goals and that remains our commitment and focus.”
The Charge played an abbreviated 2020-21 campaign in Orlando, as part of the G League Bubble. The last game in Canton was more than a year ago. The Charge went 5-10 during the abbreviated season.
“I am, of course, disappointed that the Charge will no longer be playing in Canton. We had open and professional conversations with Charge management about extending their lease and staying,” stated Canton Mayor Thomas Bernabei. “However, their move is stimulated by a desire to be in much closer proximity to the Cavaliers’ core center of operations. We worked hard at keeping them here, but I appreciate their openness in our conversations, respect their decision and sincerely wish them well. We also appreciate their continued commitment and expansion of youth and community programming and support here. We thank them for an exciting run at the Civic Center and will remain Charge and Cavs fans.”
The move to Cleveland State University’s (CSU) Wolstein Center follows a trend in the G League seeing teams continuing to operate much closer to their NBA franchise home venues and training centers. Recent examples of this are present in Washington and Detroit and more than half of the teams in the G League are now located closer than 30 miles from their NBA parent club’s game arenas and training and development facilities.
The role and importance of the G League within the NBA development landscape continues to expand as close to 60% of players now in the NBA have played in the G League. Playing in downtown Cleveland achieves a higher level of integration, resources and operational flexibility for the Charge players, staff and front office members based on the location being within several blocks of Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse and just eight miles from Cleveland Clinic Courts, the training and player development center for the Cavaliers. The Charge will now be able to practice at both Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse and Cleveland Clinic Courts, as well as utilize the extended facility and treatment benefits present at both locations.
“We’re very thankful for the seasons we played at the Civic Center in Canton. We enjoyed some truly special moments there with our players, staff and fans alike,” added Charge General Manager Brendon Yu. “As we look to the future, we’re very pleased to now be able to continue the growth of the Charge at the Wolstein Center. The proximity to Cleveland Clinic Courts and Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse creates an enhanced synergy between the two teams and will foster even greater personnel development that will be very impactful for us.”
The transition to playing at CSU also launches a new era of Charge basketball in downtown Cleveland and one that will be accompanied by the development of a longer-term vision and partnership with CSU that can align with the evolution of their future venue plans as well.
The Charge also announced a commitment to expand youth sports, community programming and support in Canton, including Cavs Academy and Jr. Cavs camp and clinic programs and Cavs Elite games to bring multiple new opportunities to the greater Canton community. This expanded commitment will also increase the number of free opportunities for underserved or disadvantaged local youth to participate. The increased opportunities will also be part of an enhanced commitment to address food scarcity in the region through the donation of proceeds from select camp or tournament events being matched by the Cavs organization to generate a minimum of 20,000 additional meals towards local efforts, including the Akron-Canton Foodbank, and Stark Hunger Task Force. Community engagement efforts and support have been a foundational element of the Charge relationship with fans and the Canton community from the time the franchise began to play there in 2011.