On June 28, 2012, the NBL announced that Windsor had been awarded an expansion team for the 2012-13 season. With this eighth franchise, the League went to divisional play, placing the Express in the Central Division.
On August 1, 2012, two members of the Express' ownership group were announced (Dartis Willis and Mo Regnier), and the team nickname was officially confirmed. The Express name is partially a tribute to the Underground Railroad (one of whose last stops was in Windsor, and its International Memorial is located there), and to the rail yards on the banks of the Detroit River.
The team compiled a 22-18 record in its inaugural year, placing second in the Central Division and being seeded 3rd in the playoffs. It lost its only post-season series, a semifinal against the Summerside Storm, 3 games to 2.