The Thunderbirds today announced plans to relocate to the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, NM, following the conclusion of the 2009-10 NBA D-League regular season.  In conjunction with the move to Rio Rancho, the team will also be rebranding itself as the New Mexico Thunderbirds.

The New Mexico Thunderbirds will begin play at the Global Spectrum managed facility in late 2010.

“We are so grateful to all of the loyal and passionate T-Birds fans for supporting the team over the past five years and helping us to deliver top notch NBA minor league professional basketball action to Albuquerque,” said team owner Jackie Bregman.  “We hope all of our fans will continue to love and support the team as we move north into this beautiful arena.  We are truly excited to be rebranding the team as the New Mexico Thunderbirds because we want to reach out to the entire statewide community.”

Santa Ana Star Center is a $47 million facility with 165,000 square feet of extended floor space.  It will seat approximately 6,000 during Thunderbirds games.  The venue has 1,400 parking spaces, 500 club seats and 26 private luxury suites and is designed to meet all ADA specifications to accommodate guests with disabilities.

“We are very excited that we were able to come to an agreement to make Santa Ana Star Center the new home of the New Mexico Thunderbirds,” said Global Spectrum’s Gunnar Fox, General Manager of the Santa Ana Star Center.  “This allows us to offer our community an NBA caliber product combined with fun for the whole family.”

The team will play its final game at Tingley Coliseum on March 13 when the T-Birds host the Los Angeles D-Fenders.