The Maine Red Claws will not compete in the modified NBA G League season this winter.

After weeks of rumors, the G League announced Friday that it will hold a single-site regular season in Orlando, Florida, beginning in February, rather than having teams play in their home cities during the coronavirus pandemic.

A statement from the Red Claws said, “Based on that decision, the Boston Celtics have decided to opt out of this optional scenario, and therefore the Maine Red Claws will not participate in the 2020-21 G League season.

“While we share in our fans’ disappointment that we will not be having a season in Maine this year, we will continue to be active off the court and in our Maine communities. We are grateful to have the best fans and partners in the NBA G League and are excited to continue building towards the future.

“We are committed to a 2021-22 season in Maine and the work has already begun.”

Red Claws President Dajuan Eubanks said the decision by the Celtics – who have owned the Red Claws since 2019 and have been affiliated with the team since its debut in 2009 – was not surprising and that the organizations had worked together toward it.

“That’s the beauty of our relationship with the Celtics,” he said. “We are becoming more integrated and we worked together coming up with this decision. Now we’re looking for a bigger and better 2021-22 season.”

The Red Claws play their home games at the Portland Expo and have a lease with the city that expires on June 30, 2024, with an option to extend it to 2029. They last played at the Expo on March 8, 2020, followed by a road game at Delaware three days later, before the league was shut down because of the pandemic.

“I’m certainly going to miss watching them play,” said season ticket holder Michelle Santiago. “But I’m not saying I’m disappointed because their safety comes first.”

South Portland’s Pam Barker, a season ticket holder for the last six years with her husband, Larry, said she will miss more than just basketball. Barker, 73, bakes cupcakes, or a player’s favorite dessert, for their birthdays.

“Well, I basically enjoy watching them play and getting to know them and getting to know their families and making their parents feel at home when they come into the Expo,” said Pam Barker, who keeps in touch with former players. “I like making the players feel at home.”

Portland officials shared the Red Claws anticipation of the 2021-22 season.

“We will join efforts to make sure they return in a safe environment for the fans, staff, coaches and players,” said Jessica Grondin, Portland’s director of communications and digital services. “The City will work with the Red Claws in their efforts to engage in the community while preparing for next season.”

Grondin said the Red Claws will not be charged anything this winter because “the license agreement is based on occupancy and per game fees. Neither of which will apply while they are not utilizing the Expo.”

Grondin and Andrew Downs, the director of public assembly facilities for Portland, said the city will not suffer any financial losses because the fees that the Red Claws pay – which includes a $2,910 per-game fee – simply offset the city’s staffing and food costs.

“With no games, we are not incurring any of the costs associated with Red Claws occupancy,” said Downs.

Eubanks said the Red Claws will try to continue all the community outreach programs they have done in the past, although using a virtual format this year. “There will be a number of things we will be involved with,” he said. “But we’re just beginning to plan them out.”

He added, “We are fortunate to be in a market where fans are loyal and practical and understand that when we can, we will be here and will be active in the community.”

The Celtics are one of 11 NBA teams that have opted out of having their G League teams play in the shorter bubble season in Orlando. Seventeen NBA teams will field G League teams in Orlando, along with the Ignite, a new team that features high level prospects who skipped college to go directly to  professional basketball.

The NBA completed its 2019-20 season at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando last summer after putting the season on hold in March.

Those teams not in Orlando still have the option of transferring players with two-way contracts to other teams in the G League. For the Celtics, that would be Tacko Fall, the popular 7-foot-5 center, and point guard Tremont Waters, who was last year’s G League Rookie of the Year.

This announcement will leave Portland without any professional sports teams this winter. On Nov. 18, the Maine Mariners’ season was canceled when the ECHL suspended play for all its Northern Division clubs.

Gregg Frame of Cape Elizabeth has been a Red Claws season ticket holder since Day 1. He will miss the family atmosphere at games this winter.

“I’m obviously disappointed because Maine winters are cold and the Red Claws are a bright spot every winter,” said Frame, 49. “Having said that, they run this as a first-class organization and I trust they are doing the right things for the fans, the organization and for the players.”


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