Windy City Bulls move closer to NBA Development League debut

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Fans peruse Windy City Bulls merchandise at a recent community event at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates. (Photo by Grace Wiley.)

Windy City Bulls president Brad Seymour is well-versed in the day-to-day operations of running a sports franchise. But that doesn’t mean the excitement of launching something new is lost on him.

The reality of joining the NBA Development League this fall sets in each time Seymour sees the arena floor — complete with the team’s logo at center court — in place at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates.

And when the team’s inaugural season schedule was released this week, Seymour realized just how far he and other team officials have come since he was named to his post in late February.

“The first time you lay eyes on that court, you realize this is what we’re working for as a team,” Seymour said. “It makes it very real, and it really reinvigorated all of us. It kind of gave us that extra charge as we really start to get busy.”

On Wednesday, the Windy City Bulls announced they acquired the rights to 12 players in the expansion draft. Among the players chosen were former Minnesota center Ralph Sampson III (Maine Red Claws), Chicago native and former Marquette guard Jerel McNeal (Bakersfield Jam) and former Purdue guard Jon Octeus (Canton Charge).

The Windy City Bulls open the season Nov. 11 at home against the expansion Long Island Nets. It’s one of 16 home games on a Friday or Saturday. The weekend-heavy slate is family-friendly for a fan base Seymour said will be mostly centered around the team’s suburban headquarters.

The franchise is expected to name a coaching staff in September.

Seymour recently has seen fan excitement build around a team that continues to maintain close connections with its NBA parent club in the city. Those ties, along with the Sears Centre’s intimate setting, have led to an uptick in season- and half-season-ticket sales. A series of community events hosted by the team, including the court unveiling, also helped.

“For a lot of folks, that made it very real to be able to touch and feel what a game experience is going to be like,” Seymour said. “That has really increased the awareness and the interest level another notch.”

Bandits go back-to-back

The Bandits captured their second consecutive National Professional Fastpitch championship Tuesday with a 2-1 victory over the USSSA Pride in the winner-take-all third game of the Cowles Cup championship series.

The title was the Bandits’ fourth in franchise history.

Outfielder Brittany Cervantes earned MVP honors. Her homer, which followed Taylor Edwards’ solo shot, gave the Bandits a 2-0 lead in the third inning.

Angel Bunner, who signed with the Bandits at midseason after not pitching at the NPF level since 2014, earned the victory. Bunner worked six innings, allowed the single run, scattered eight hits and struck out one. Rookie Shelby Turnier closed out the win with a scoreless seventh.

Follow me on Twitter @JeffArnold_.

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