The Grand Rapids Drive 2016-17 season opened last Friday, November 11, with a big win at home against the Canton Charge (134-111) and the upcoming season promises to be a fun one.

If you’re ready to get in on the hoops excitement, you have two chances this week. Take a break from turkey prep tomorrow night (11/23) and cheer on the Drive as they take on the Iowa Energy at 7PM in the DeltaPlex. Later this week, if you’re looking for an entertaining evening to re-charge after all that Black Friday shopping, you can catch them against the Austin Spurs on Friday night (7PM, 11/25).

GR Drive player
Alex Johnson drives down the court. Photo credit: Grand Rapids Drive

New Coach, New Intensity

Rex Walters takes the helm as head coach this year, following the departure of head coach Otis Smith, who led the GR Drive for their first two seasons. (Smith was hired as a director of player development and an assistant coach for the GR Drive’s NBA partner, the Detroit Pistons.)

Walters played college basketball at Northwestern before transferring to the University of Kansas to become a Jayhawk, where he helped lead the team to the Final Four in 1993. He later played in the NBA from 1993-2003. For the past 8 years, he’s coached the Dons at the University of San Francisco and was named West Coast Conference Coach of the Year in the 2013-14 season.

Coach Rex Walters Grand Rapids Drive
New head coach, Rex Walters talks to his players. Photo credit: Grand Rapids Drive

What does that mean for fans of the Grand Rapids Drive? It might mean more wins. “Rex is highly competitive, highly intense and wants to win,” says Wes Weir, President, Business Operations for the Grand Rapids Drive. As part of the NBA’s Development “D” League, a large part of Walter’s responsibility is developing young players. But Weir believes Walters' coaching experience will provide an added benefit for players and fans.

“He’s a flat-out competitor,” explains Weir. “I think the fact that he’s been a head coach at a very high Division 1 college level for 8 seasons and winning big time D1 basketball games will translate into more wins for us, just because of his competitive fire. I think he’ll help us attain a playoff berth and chase after a championship.”

Ray McCallum Grand Rapids Drive
Ray McCallum lines up for a free throw. Photo credit: Grand Rapids Drive

New Players, Future Stars

This season’s roster includes standout players like Ray McCallum Jr. (#2), a former McDonald’s All-American and Jordan Crawford (#15), a collegiate All-American who scored 41 points in a game for the Golden State Warriors.

“This league has an elite caliber of talent that is unparalleled in any other minor league. Our fans not only experience and watch young guys develop and chase their goal and dream of making it to the next level, but also see current and former NBA players,” Weir says.

Buckets Grand Rapids Drive mascot
Grand Rapids Drive mascot, Buckets. Photo credit: Grand Rapids Drive

Game Time Fun

Beyond the on-court talent, fans can expect to have a lot of fun at this season’s games. “From the minute fans pull into the parking lot, come into the box office to get their tickets, sit in their seats, and throughout the game, we want the evening to be as positive and entertaining as possible. We want fans to leave feeling like they got a lot of value,” Weir explains. They’ve also added another concession stand and added menu options to give fans more food and drink choices.

All of the Drive’s home games have a theme. You can get your groove on at 90's Night (12/2) or sport your favorite ugly sweater for Ugly Sweater Night (12/23); there are also several character-themed nights. Last Tuesday was Harry Potter Night but if you missed that one, fans of Marvel Comics can catch Superheroes Night (11/23) and Obi-Wan fans of all ages won’t want to miss Star Wars Night (2/10). “At each of the nights, we’ll have characters walking around and taking pictures with fans, a lot of video content and music, and everything we do during the breaks in the game will be tied into the theme,” says Weir. “From an experience standpoint, for fans and their families, it’s going to be really cool.”

Fans 65 and older will want to mark their calendars for 12/4, which is the Senior Citizen game (Sunday matinee at 1PM), the GR Drive is offering a buy-one-get-one-free promotion. (See the list of all GR Drive game night themes.)

Senior citizens aren’t the only ones who can get a deal this season. All season long, the Drive is offering these awesome promotions for all fans:

  • $2 Wednesdays: $2 General Admission Tickets, $2 Beer and Soda, $2 Large Popcorn
  • Friday Night Out: Craft Beer Specials and Discounted Offers from Local Restaurants
  • Saturday Family 4-Packs: Just $44 buys you 4 tickets, 4 hot dogs and 4 sodas. They’ll also have free giveaways to the first 1,000 fans through the doors.

Ticket Packages and Premium Seats

In addition, there are several special packages fans can buy to see more games and save money.

courtside seats, Grand Rapids Drive
Courtside table. Photo credit: Grand Rapids Drive

Fans interested in full season tickets not only save money on their assigned seats for each game, but receive other exclusive benefits, like priority for playoff tickets, 20% savings on Drive merchandise, invitations to members only events, meet and greets with the players and coaches, and more.

If you can’t commit to full-season tickets, you can buy half-season tickets or a 6-game package, all of which offer you season member benefits. “Whether you’re a full season ticket holder, half season ticket holder, or sign up for the 6-game plan, you become a member of the Drive family,” says Weir.  The 6 Game Pick ‘Em Plan is a cool package that includes tickets to 6 home games of your choice, which gives fans lots of value and flexibility.

Courtside 6-person tables are available for single game rentals and offer an incredible game experience. Not only do you and your friends get to sit courtside, you also get VIP parking and in-seat wait service, in addition to access to the GR Drive’s exclusive VIP Club (on the north end of the stadium). “It’s curtained off and has a private bar, high top tables, couches and lounge chair. We really try to deliver a red carpet treatment to the folks with premium seats,” says Weir.

If you’re not ready to commit to you becoming a season ticket holder, you can still take advantage of premium seating by purchasing tickets for Courtside Row 1 or Courtside Row 2. Those seats are just like they sound: individual tickets for seats that are up close and personal.

Regardless of where you sit or how many tickets you buy, don’t miss out on a season that promises to be fun, exciting and a great value. Get your tickets and get ready to cheer on the GR Drive. It’s game time!