The Canton Charge New Season
By Sean Wyatt
Anyone who has attended a Cleveland Cavaliers game at Quicken Loans Arena knows that the spectacular play on the court is only exceeded by the even more spectacular pageantry of some of the most unique game presentation in all of sports. Flames shooting from swords, a video board nearly as big as the court, miscellaneous collectables and hot dogs flying from cannons – all add up to a night as memorable as how they got the final score.
When you see that their official NBA Development League team, the Canton Charge, is “powered by the Cleveland Cavaliers,” you’re correct to assume there are similarities on and off the court between the parent and minor league clubs. While the shooting flames are absent at Charge games, the distinct electricity and feel of The Q can be felt within the Canton Memorial Civic Center’s atmosphere.
“We pride ourselves on being an extension of Cleveland, like a ‘mini Cavs’ if you will,” said SVP/COO Mike Levy. “The atmosphere for a game at The Q is incredible and why wouldn’t we want to have some of that for our fans in Canton, too?”
Regular waves of t-shirts flying into the stands during timeouts, dance teams strutting their stuff, wacky games on the court, and thumping music are some of the familiar elements present at Charge games. There is Cavs Night featuring appearances by mascots Moondog & Sir CC, the Scream Team, and the Cavalier Girls. With Wine and Gld giveaways such as a Mozgov fuzzy winter hat plus J.R. Smith and Shumpert bobbleheads, it’s impossible not to see the similarities between Canton and Cleveland.
And of course, there will be plenty of Charge giveaways celebrating season five.
Those similarities continue once you sit in your seat. The Charge set a franchise record for wins last year as they made the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. Backed by the Cavs’ basketball operations, the Charge pieces together some of the top NBA-ready talent year after year to compile a winning formula of team basketball. Aside from players on the cusp of the next level, Canton also sees NBA rookies like Joe Harris get their chance to lead and play extended minutes to improve their game.
“We spend a lot of time in Cleveland before the season starts getting to know the players and the system,” says Head Coach Jordi Fernandez. “When our guys or Cavs players are with us in Canton, it feels exactly how it does in an NBA practice and that attitude translates to our level of play.”
It helps that the talent is there to go with it. Canton had two Cavs players spend regular time with the team, with three other players also being called up to NBA contracts. At the end of last season, 38% of all NBA players had D-League experience. That’s a testament to how successful the D-League is to acting as a “farm system” for the NBA and fostering tons of talent now making an impact in the league.
Stark County is taking notice of Canton’s Wine & Gold. More fans than ever (over 70,000) came out and showed their support for the Charge last season, including twice exceeding a sellout crowd. The Charge’s fifth season is coming up in 2015-16 and fans can expect even more of the very best on and off the court.
Canton opened the fifth season at home on the evening of November 14th, but the festivities kicked off early in the morning with the inaugural Charge 5K race. It began outside the Civic Center and took runners on a course through historic downtown Canton. Runners returned to the arena with a courtside finish and were treated to a post-race reception, unique spinning medal, and tech fit race shirt. Leading into tipoff, there was a FanFest full of activities and inflatable games, an exclusive collectible giveaway, and appearances from the Charge Girls.
Aside from “Cavs Night” on December 19th, there’s the annual “Fan Appreciation Night” on March 25th as the Charge cap off their home schedule showering those in attendance with thousands of dollars of prizes. But you don’t need a great promotion to get out to a game. Groups of all kinds come out to high-five the players, get autographs, hoop on the court, or even mingle with Cavs heroes past and present.
The Cavs will continue to wow in Cleveland with a retooled, star-studded roster and the most passionate fans in sports behind them enjoying the game experience unlike any other. Expect Canton to do something along the same lines.
The Canton Charge New Season