Whatever sport it is, losing a professional sports team is the lowest point you could reach as a fan. Losing a game will be forgotten. Losing a championship stings, but you know there’s always next year. When a city loses its team altogether, there is nothing you can say to make it better. When you’re such a passionate fan, losing a team is losing a part of your life. These cities know it all too well, and they were robbed. When a team moves, many like to make the fans out as scapegoats, but the average Joe fan can only do so much to keep a team. Usually when a team moves, it’s due to problems that stemmed from uncommitted ownership or those with the resources doing nothing to step up and save a team.
Several cities have lost a team, only to get one back, such as Houston getting the Texans, Winnipeg getting the Jets, the Cleveland Browns getting a reincarnation, the Charlotte Hornets returning, as well as Washington D.C. getting a third chance with the Nationals.
These cities know it all too well and they deserve a second shot with a team. Just because circumstances, owners or league officials failed them once, doesn’t mean they aren’t deserving markets.
All these cities lost one of their teams. Regardless of the sport, here are the cities that deserve their team back.
8) Vancouver (NBA)
The Grizzlies played in Vancouver for a mere six seasons, which included a lockout-shortened season in 1998-99. The Grizzlies actually had a solid attendance number before the lockout, with an average of 16,108 fans per game. Following the lockout, the number shrank to the bottom third of the league.
When a franchise is just starting up and a lockout halts their momentum, is it not a little hasty for relocation to happen just six years into the team’s existence?
Another problem was the weak Canadian dollar at the time, as the team had to pay its players in American. Michael Heisley purchased the team for $160 million and quickly looked to relocate the team.
An expansion franchise, lasting six seasons, the team never even got the opportunity to build themselves into a winner. The city of Vancouver never even had the chance to see what a good NBA team looked like. Vancouver’s best season came in their final season, a 23-59 mark.
The city was shortchanged and with the sport of basketball growing in Canada, with additional talent going to the NBA, the league should take a look north of the boarder if they’re looking to expand in the future.
If it provides any hope to fans, the current Canucks owners, Aquilini Investment Group, has expressed interest in bringing a NBA team back to Vancouver.
However there’s one market in the Pacific Northwest that deserves a team even more.
7) Seattle (NHL)
We’ll get to the other sport missing in Seattle later.
If there’s any American city deserving of an NHL team right now, it’s Seattle. Seattle had a team a long time ago, with the 1917 Metropolitans becoming the first American winners of the Stanley Cup. The team folded in 1924.
Seattle has a rich hockey history and it’s puzzling that the city was repeatedly overlooked when the NHL was expanding, instead opting for two teams in Florida, one in Arizona, one in Texas and three in California.
The NHL needs more teams in the Western Conference, particularly the Pacific Division, so Seattle fits the bill perfectly.
The city was two Glendale votes against the Coyotes away from being rewarded the franchise last year, as Bartozek and Anthony Lanza had a deal in place to buy the team for $220 million if Glendale chose not to keep them.
However with constant whispers of the NHL expanding to 32 teams, it seems like it’s just a matter of time before Seattle is finally awarded an NHL franchise.
6) Brooklyn (MLB)
This one’s a long shot, as the New York Yankees and New York Mets occupy the Big Apple and likely wouldn’t take too kindly to a team moving in on their territory.
The Dodgers relocated to Los Angeles following the 1957 season, due to stadium problems in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn is now an extremely trendy area. It’s a young market, and the borough has even gotten the Nets and will soon get the Islanders. How cool would a new Ebbets Field be? Okay we have to be more realistic; the name would probably be after some bank or insurance company. Nevertheless, a new team in Brooklyn would be damn cool.
5) Hartford (NHL)
The city of Hartford was robbed of their team, not getting corporate support when it was needed, and being stuck with an owner who never really made any effort to keep the team in place. Peter Karmanos initially pledged to keep the Whalers in Connecticut, but just two years later, he announced that if the Whalers didn’t sell 11,000 season tickets, the team would be moved.
The popular mini-season ticket packages were no longer available, forcing fans to buy tickets to 41 games, rather than the smaller packs of six, 10 and 20 games. An aggressive civic campaign saw fans pooling together their resources to collectively purchase season tickets. In less than 45 days, the campaign raised season ticket sales by over 8,000 despite ticket prices increasing 20 percent and the initial deposit amount increasing by 750 per cent.
The Whalers began negotiating an arena deal with Connecticut, but talks fell apart when Karmanos wanted an additional $45 million to cover losses while the arena was being built. The Whalers then announced they’d be leaving Hartford after the 1996-97 season.
The fans did their part, but politics and ownership did not.
4) Quebec City (Nordiques)
When Winnipeg got their hockey team back, Quebec City was left wondering when they’d be getting theirs back.
Being a small market in the NHL in the mid ’90s was tough, considering the rising player salaries, a weakened Canadian dollar and a monolingual French market limited the team’s appeal to outside players. Eric Lindros refused to play for them when he was drafted. What’s even more painful is the team moved right before the franchise’s first Stanley Cup, as they would win as the Colorado Avalanche in 1995-96.
Losing two Canadian teams in two seasons led the NHL to create the Canadian Assistance Plan, providing financial support for the small-market Canadian teams.
Quebec City is building a new arena, which should open next fall, so if the NHL were looking to expand or if a team were for sale, the city may indeed be seen as a candidate.
3) Montreal (MLB)
What went wrong with the Expos? Where do we begin? The lack of committed ownership following Charles Bronfman‘s sale, the 1994 strike wiping out the Expos’ best season, the fire sale that followed, the dump that is Olympic Stadium trying to be passed off as a ballpark, a weak Canadian dollar, no English broadcast partner from whom to collect TV and radio revenue, a frustrated fan base, etc…
Just about everything that could go wrong for a franchise went wrong for the Expos in their final years. By the mid to late ’90s it seemed like a matter of time before Montreal would lose their baseball team and once MLB purchased the team from Jeffrey Loria, their fate was sealed.
It’s important to focus on why baseball could in fact return to Montreal, albeit at a very slim chance. There’s an appetite for it amongst fans, as shown with two exhibition games selling 96,000 tickets this past spring. The Montreal Baseball Project headed by former Expo Warren Cromartie has done a feasibility study which found that in the current economic conditions, baseball can in fact thrive in Montreal. Expos Nation, founded by local radio host Matthew Ross has over 170,000 likes on facebook.
What’s missing is a stadium and someone with deep pockets stepping forward with a desire to bring Major League Baseball back to La Belle Province. The Big O just won’t do and baseball will not work in Montreal unless there’s committed ownership.
2) Seattle (NBA)
A 41-year history was wiped away in Seattle, thanks to an Oklahoma-based businessman by the name of Clayton Bennett purchasing the team and the former owner being naive (or maybe just not caring) about Bennett’s obvious intent to move the team to Oklahoma City.
Kevin Durant should be tearing up the league in emerald and gold.
Howard Schultz of Starbucks, owner of the team from 2002 to 2006 somehow couldn’t provide Starbucks’ vast fortune to revamp Seattle’s KeyArena, instead wanting the city and Washington state to foot the bill.
Bennett asked for help in a $500 million arena plan, which was also rejected and quickly explored relocation. The team got out of their lease at the KeyArena with a meagre $45 million payment to the city and 2008 would be the SuperSonics final year in Seattle, the franchise becoming the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Watch the documentary SonicsGate – Requiem for a Team. It’s worth a watch and shows just how badly the fans of Seattle were screwed over.
1) Los Angeles (NFL)
Okay, here’s all anyone should need to convince you that this deserves the no.1 spot. It’s Los Angeles! How does the most lucrative sports league in North America not have a franchise in L.A.?
Since the Raiders moved back to Oakland in 1995, no NFL team has played here.
After this season, three teams will have expiring stadium leases, all with former ties to the City of Angels; the Raiders, the San Diego Chargers and the St. Louis Rams.
There are aggressive efforts being made to build a stadium, in either downtown L.A., Hollywood Park or City of Industry. Wherever it is, the United States’ second-largest market should have an NFL team. With the Clippers being sold for $2 billion, just imagine how well the NFL would do there with sports franchises in today’s economy going for ridiculous values.
Whatever team it is doesn’t matter, just get this city a team!
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