The most frequent topic that comes in NBA discussion is the idea of either expansion or relocation. It is a hot topic because the NBA has never ruled out the idea of adding or re-locating teams. Last year when the Los Angeles Clippers were for sale, there were many cities who wanted the Clippers to hop over to theirs. However, the current owner Steve Ballmer was able to outbid others and the team stayed in Los Angeles.
Now that the Atlanta Hawks are for sale, the topic of relocation has come up again. Heavy interest has started to form among the cities but once again, it is rumored that the Hawks will stay in Atlanta. The reason for why there is such heavy interest is that having an NBA team usually means that the team will generate revenue and provide exposure to the rest of the world. It also means that there is a chance to host future NBA events or other basketball related events which will also help the city financially.
The NBA at one point may expand to more than 30 teams and cities who have wanted teams will finally get a chance. Relocation may also occur as some current NBA teams are not doing well in terms of attendance and revenue. Current commissioner Adam Silver has stated that there will be four teams in Europe in 20 years. China might also receive NBA teams in the future as the NBA continues to make their product truly global. While 20 years might seem a long time for expansion, there are 10 current cities in North America that would make prime NBA cities. Listed below in are the 10 cities, ranked based on the likelihood of the city getting a team and how soon they can expect an NBA team in their future.
10. Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City would have great potential for being an NBA city. It would also start the beginning of the globalization of the NBA. Mexico City has by far the largest population among the 10 cities listed below with more than 8 million. It is also one of the important financial centers in North America and would generate a great amount of revenue for the league. It also has an arena that holds 22,030 people. However, crime is a big part of the country and this would make it difficult to attract any NBA team to want to play in Mexico City. You also wonder how many Americans would want to make a permanent move south of the boarder.
9. Las Vegas, Nevada
The city of Las Vegas has been rumored for a while to land a professional sports team in any of the four major sports. The NBA holds the summer league in Las Vegas annually and several USA basketball games. Las Vegas offers a wide variety of entertainment options for NBA players and visitors. The city is also building two major stadiums and could be used for an NBA team. It seems that the city would get an NHL team before a pro basketball team.
However Las Vegas has many distractions and gambling is one of the biggest. Sports and gambling have a bad history therefore the outlook for an NBA team doesn’t look promising.
8. Norfolk-Virginia Beach, Virginia
In 2012, the Virginia Beach city council tried to unsuccessfully relocate the Sacramento Kings to Virginia. However, in the near future it could be home to a NBA team as officials and private investors are moving forward with funding proposals to construct a large oceanfront arena. The arena would fit 18,000 people. The Norfolk-Virginia Beach metro area is the second largest metro area without a major sports team. Norfolk-Virginia Beach’s population is around 1.5 million which is more than some cities who currently have NBA teams.
When the new arena is built and the NBA looks to expand or relocate, Norfolk-Virginia Beach should be one of the cities that should have the chance.
7. Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnati has held an NBA team before but that was more than 40 years ago, back when the Sacramento Kings were the Cincinnati Royals. The city is quite different now. Cincinnati only has MLB’s Cincinnati Reds and the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals as their professional sports teams and an NBA team would have no competition through most of the winter. Cincinnati also has a population of 2.5 million and basketball is very popular in the city. It could also create a new Ohio rivalry with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The only problem with Cincinnati is that there is no arena suitable for an NBA team at that moment. When the arena issues are resolved then Cincinnati can be seen as a possible expansion or relocation for an NBA team.
6. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh hasn’t had an NBA team in a long time and it’s about time the NBA started taking a closer look into it as a possible NBA city. The state of Pennsylvania can handle two NBA teams and a new rivalry can begin between the Philadelphia’s 76ers and the possible Pittsburgh NBA team. Unlike other cities on this list, Pittsburgh has a suitable arena, an arena which can fit 18,000 people. It is also a successful sports town with many championships among the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers and the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. The city of Pittsburgh should have an NBA team soon when it comes time for expansion or relocation.
5. Kansas City, Missouri
From 1972 to 1985 the Sacramento Kings used to play in Kansas City. It will almost be 30 years since they relocated and Kansas City would be a prime city to hold an NBA team again. They already have an arena which fits 19,000 people and it hosts NBA preseason games. Kansas City is already home to the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and MLB’s Kansas City Royals and is a passionate sports town. There are 2.34 million people in the city and many are huge fans of their sport fans. If the NBA is looking to expand or relocate an NBA team they should have Kansas City as one of their top choices.
4. Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville is one of the biggest basketball cities and an NBA team would do well in the Music City. It is also the second largest city in Tennessee and has a large population. The state of Tennessee can support two teams, one of which already is in the NBA (Memphis Grizzlies) It also has a large TV market. Nashville already has two professional teams which are the NFL’s Tennessee Titans and the NHL’s Nashville Predators. The city also has an arena which is suitable for an NBA team to play in. The NBA should think about putting Nashville as one of their top choices for either expansion or relocation for an NBA team.
3. Vancouver, British Columbia
The city of Vancouver has felt the pain of having an NBA team and then losing it within a few years. Since the Grizzlies left Vancouver and moved to Memphis, Vancouver has grown and become one of the best financial markets in Canada. The city of Vancouver is often mentioned as a possible NBA expansion or relocation team. Vancouver is already home to the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks and has space for an NBA team. It has an arena as well as a large population and a big TV market. When the NBA looks to relocate or expand they should put the city of Vancouver as one of the top choices.
2. Louisville, Kentucky
The city of Louisville is a top contender for an NBA team because they have by far the most to offer an NBA team. The city other than Seattle that the NBA was seriously considering was Louisville. The city has a rich basketball history. Louisville also has a large population and is one of the big TV markets. They also have one of the best arenas in the United States. It can hold 22,090 people and it has 72 suites on two levels and is equipped with state of the art video systems. Louisville also hosted an NBA preseason game this past October. The city also is another big sports town and has many devoted fans. The city of Louisville should expect an NBA team very soon.
1. Seattle, Washington
Seattle is another city who has had an NBA team only to see it leave years later. It has been several years since the SuperSonics left Seattle and the city of Seattle is still vocal about it. In fact, Seattle has been constantly mentioned as the NBA’s first choice for either an expansion or relocation of an NBA team. Last year, a report surfaced about two possible cities the NBA was seriously taking into consideration for relocation or expansion. One of the two cities mentioned was Seattle.
Seattle has great fans, a large population and is a big TV market. The only issue with Seattle is that there is no current arena that an NBA team can play in. As soon as Seattle’s arena is built and is ready, the NBA may very well then hand Seattle either an expansion team or relocate another NBA team. Seeing how the city was robbed of their franchise, it’s high time the NBA makes things right.