Goodbye, Delaware 87ers. Hello, Delaware Blue Coats.
After five seasons, the Philadelphia 76ers have decided to rebrand their NBA G-League affiliate ahead of the team’s planned move into an all-new, state-of-art field house on the Wilmington riverfront next season.
“It really puts the team in a more proper light to Delaware as well as 76ers fans,” Chris Heck, the Sixers’ president of business operations, said of the Blue Coats’ new name, uniforms and branding.
The 87ers, while a fun play on the 76ers, was a bit of a head scratcher to fans who didn’t know that both Delaware and Pennsylvania ratified the Constitution in 1787.
The name Blue Coats, a tip of the cap to the University of Delaware’s Blue Hens and the Kansas City Royal’s Single-A affiliate Blue Rocks, was inspired by a skilled Revolutionary War regiment led by founding father Caesar Rodney, whose famous horseback ride from Delaware to Philadelphia is depicted on the logo.
The name change comes as work continues on the new 76ers Fieldhouse, which is scheduled to be completed before the start of the Blue Coats’ 2018-19 season in November.
The 140,000-square-foot complex, which can seat around 2,500 fans, will sport three full-size basketball courts and two indoor soccer fields. It will also contain a a Nemours physical therapy and orthopedic clinic as well as a Titus Sports Academy performance training center. Even the Philadelphia Union will periodically practice in the new facility, according to Rob Buccini, co-president of the Buccini/Pollin Group, a private real estate company partnering with the Sixers on the fieldhouse.
The cost for the new complex, which will be located along the Christina Riverfront, is estimated at $26 million, with both Wilmington and the state of Delaware picking up a unspecified portion of the tab.
“The construction of a new, state-of-the-art 76ers Fieldhouse on the Riverfront and the move of the Delaware Blue Coats to Wilmington are signs that our city is on the move,” Wilmington mayor Mike Purzycki said.
So why should Sixers fans care at all about the G League? We can start with Robert Covington.
Prior to signing a new multi-year contract extension with the Sixers, Covington had multiple assignments with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Houston Rockets’ G-League team. He was named the league’s Rookie of the Year and All-Star Game MVP, and credits the league for helping him transition from college to the NBA.
Several young Sixers players, including European prospect Furkan Korkmaz and two-way players Demetrius Jackson and James Young, spent significant time on the court for the 87ers last season. All told, 44 percent of NBA players last season had some G-League experience, an all-time high.
“You get an up close, personal look at the players and you can actually form a relationship with them,” said Blue Coats general manager Elton Brand, a former two-time NBA All-Star who played five seasons for the Sixers. “So when they develop, and when they’re on the Sixers full-time, you already have a relationship with them.”
Here’s a look at the Blue Coats’ new home and away jerseys: