The sad, weeping faces of fans throughout a city. A heartbreak so strong that can tear the life of a city apart. Fans burning jerseys, causing riots, and fuming with frustration. These are the after effects when a team leaves its’ city to relocate. Seeing your favorite sports team relocate to another home is like seeing a loved one with another person: heartbreak.
This heart break tends to happen from time to time in sports. In the past two years, we have seen three NFL teams leave their beloved fans and move to new homes. The Rams went to Los Angeles as well as the Chargers, and the Raiders left to go to Las Vegas. It’s tough to let go of a special part of your life, but sometimes you have to move on.
There has been a total of 21 relocations in NBA History. The most recent one being the Seattle SuperSonics moving to Oklahoma City to become the Thunder. Relocation occurs usually due to financial reasons. But as sad as it can be for fans, teams have so many options to relocate. Some cities that have already had teams can be cities to relocate or brand-new cities that are tourist attractions, which could use a NBA team.
The NBA is the third largest money make in the United States, behind the NFL and MLB. There are many opportunities for teams to find a new identity to help their team succeed on and off the court.
Break ups are hard, no one will deny that they aren’t. But sometimes, it’s better to look at the team at the end of the day, and give them their best opportunity to succeed.
8 NBA Teams That Should Leave Town And The 8 Cities They Would Go To:
16 Leave: Portland Trailblazers
Oregon has never been known for much, besides the University of Oregon and the Nike headquarters. Besides that, it’s never been known for much else. Although Oregon tourism has increased due to state parks, it has never been a destination for sports fans to want to go visit.
With a team that finished 8th in the Western Conference, better locations are available for the Trail Blazers to play. With star player Damian Lillard in his prime, this team has the ability to create more revenue in a bigger city. The Trailblazers could use another professional sports team to form a stronger fan base, and the opportunity to make more capital.
Pre-2008, the Trail Blazers ranked in the bottom half in stadium attendance. So, what happens when times get tough for the Trail Blazers and they can’t fill up the stadium? The team needs to be put into a big market in order to succeed. Portland has been a great home since 1970, but the Trail Blazers should look to take their talents elsewhere.
15 Destination: San Jose, California
One state away, the new San Jose Trail Blazers make their way to California. Close enough for fans to be able to travel to games on occasion, a new city for the up and coming city. Only an hour away from San Francisco, the 10th largest city population in the United States is the perfect location for the Trail Blazers.
San Jose gives the Trail Blazers a new, more tropical look. With the Warriors only an hour away, it also gives the superstar team a friendly rivalry nearby. San Jose is already a tourist city, and has a hockey and soccer team already located in the city. The best part is that the Trail Blazers would already have a stadium. The SAP Center, where the San Jose Sharks play, would be the new location of the Trail Blazers. San Jose would provide San Jose tourists with another big name team, bringing in more revenue from merchandise and tickets from San Jose fans.
14 Leave: Utah Jazz
The Utah Jazz are the most popular basketball team to ever play in Utah, and they may not even be a top 20 popular cities to visit for NBA games. The Jazz just came off a season where they lost in the Western Conference Semifinals. Unfortunately, the Jazz lost star player Gordon Hayward during the offseason to a big-name market, Boston. Players want to play for big-name market, that way they can succeed in front of a great crowd, and make money off to the side of basketball. Utah just isn’t the location for that. In a state that isn’t known for pulling in tourists, there are many other options to relocate.
Although we know this won’t happen due to the renovations to Vivint SmartHome Arena, it would be ideal for the Jazz to move elsewhere. If you want to bring those big name stars that are lingering around the NBA, relocate to a bigger city, where the opportunities for the players and team are endless.
13 Destination: Kansas City, Missouri
Just a few months ago, the Kansas Jayhawks were ranked #4 overall in the NCAA March Madness. In most cities, having a big-name college basketball team along with a professional team wouldn’t work, but an NBA team in Kansas City may make it one of the best sports cities in the nation. Kansas City already has the Royals and Chiefs, the Jazz would just make Kansas City an even bigger spot for fans to want to visit. Arrowhead Stadium fills up around 74,000 seats in the freezing cold each Sunday, the Jazz could easily fill up at least 18,000 seats a few nights a week.
The Jazz and Jayhawks would perfectly coordinate, allowing fans of both to attend each other’s games and support each other. The addition to a new professional sports team in Kansas City would cause many fans to go out and purchase merchandise. Going into last year’s MLB All-Star Game, three Royals players were in the top 20 jerseys sold before the break. The amount of merchandise and tickets sold would easily make the Jazz a more popular team to play for and root for.
12 Leave: Charlotte Hornets
The Carolinas have had a lot of success with the Panthers and college teams. The only team that hasn’t been able to succeed in the Carolinas: The Hornets. Since 2005, the Hornets or what used to be called the Bobcats, have only made it to the playoffs three times. Each year they have went to the playoffs, they lost in the first round. For fans that just saw their NFL team go to the Super Bowl in 2016, they don’t want to sit around and watch a losing sports team. They want to be proud to have a winning culture.
The organization switched to the Charlotte Bobcats then back to the Charlotte Hornets to give some change to fans, but things still haven’t worked for them. The organization has yet to even make an Eastern Conference Finals, that’s how bad this team has been. Even in 2016 when the Hornets made the playoffs, the team was still ranked #18th overall in attendance. With a team that Michael Jordan has ownership to, Jordan and his team would love to find a new home for a new team to finally find its identity, and bring back its first ever NBA Finals Championship.
11 Destination: Baltimore, Maryland
This city is a city that is an NBA team away from becoming the ultimate spot for fans to visit. With the Orioles and Ravens as neighbors, there’s one team missing from the block. This location puts the Hornets in a big city with a great fan base. The team could easily boost up their attendance rates from the first year they get there. With the Ravens being just out of the top 10 NFL home attendances, this team could rack up numbers very quickly in Baltimore.
The city doesn’t have any major college teams, so it is based primarily off of professional sports teams. This means adults taking their children to games, spending money. Baltimore also isn’t far from many big cities like Washington D.C. and New York City. That way Hornets fans from the area could travel to games. It is a bit away from their home now, but the move would instantly help improve their attendance at home games. This would also give many residents from Virginia a basketball team to root for. This also gives Jordan a state that he is familiar with as he played in D.C. with the Wizards. Baltimore is awaiting their final neighbor.
10 Leave: Memphis Grizzlies
Another team with poor attendance records, that is homeless looking for a new home.
Memphis has not done their job right attending games of the Grizzlies. Since 2001, the highest the Grizzlies have ever been on the NBA home attendance sheet is #18 overall in 2015, averaging 17,329 fans a game. That was the best attendance they have had in a since 2001, those numbers could give Robert Persa a reason to sell the team. Even the Titans struggle with home attendance for their games.
Tennessee may be the capital for country music, but it is a nightmare for sports teams to call their home state. The Grizzlies finishing 7th in Western Conference, look like a team that could bring in some revenue at another location. With players like Marc Gasol and Chandler Parsons, this team could give another city a reason to be excited to watch basketball. Tennessee may not even mind the break up, after all, they don’t attend Grizzlies games.
9 Relocation: Tampa Bay, Florida
One of the most beautiful cities in the sunshine state, no better place for a sports team to play. The Tampa Bay area has seen some success with the Rays and the Buccaneers, but not enough for the beautiful city in northwest Florida. Tampa Bay is a city filled with beauty. A city surrounded by water, with connections to the St. Petersburg area.
A big factor when it comes to playing in the Tampa Bay area, is that you can play either in the city of Tampa Bay like the Buccaneers do, or more east in the St. Petersburg area where the Rays play. There is so many areas where a stadium can go, and with the weather as nice as it is, the team would have tourists in the area all year round. The NBA season plays through a very popular season for tourists, December-April. This is a perfect opportunity for the Grizzlies to take advantage of a sunny city with no NBA team yet. There is already a stadium in which the Tampa Bay Lightning use, Amalie Arena. The arena is used for sporting events as well as concerts. The location and opportunities are great for a team with a poor home crowd. The Grizzlies could make a great fit from a countryside living, to a tropical paradise home.
8 Leave: Milwaukee Bucks
A team that hasn’t been in an NBA Finals game since 1974. Milwaukee hasn’t seen much success in sports, the closest success being the great NFL players to come from Green Bay. In a cold destination, many sports fans may not want to travel and spend time in cold Milwaukee, to watch a team that hasn’t succeed in a while. With the Packers so close, Wisconsin stores may primarily focus their merchandise on the Packers, rather than the Bucks or Brewers. The Bucks also don’t have any players that strike the market for jersey sales.
Milwaukee has never seemed like a place that a sports team should be at. Green Bay works out for the Packers due to the legendary players and moments at Lambeau Field. Unfortunately, the Bucks have not obtained those same results just south in Milwaukee. With new cities emerging and gaining other sports teams, the Bucks could see their way out of Milwaukee sooner than fans expect.
7 Destination: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Beware! The Terrible Towels are coming to the Pittsburgh Bucks games! A city with such an amazing fan base finally gets an NBA team. The Pittsburgh fans can finally get excited about a team that has actually made the playoffs recently. Since 2013, loyal 76ers fans have been nothing, but awful. Fans from Pennsylvania are not trusting this process anymore, as they may look for another team to root for.
The new Pittsburgh Bucks, in a city that has some of the best fans in sports. The terrible towel is brought to Bucks games at the PPG Paints Arena, along with the Penguins. A cold, but wild sports city. In 2016, the Bucks averaged 15,828 fans per game. The Pittsburgh Penguins averaged 19,762 fans per game. That is almost a 4,000-fan difference per game. Pittsburgh puts the Bucks in a location with an opportunity for more revenue, and a better fan base. The Bucks could be the NBA team that Pittsburgh deserves.
6 Leave: Sacramento Kings
As big as Sacramento, California is, you would expect the team to have a much bigger following than it does. Unfortunately, the Kings are battling against the NBA favorite super team, less than 100 miles away. When in such close proximity with a star team, why bother rooting for the team that can barely get a winning season. The last time the Kings have seen a winning season was back in the 2005-06 season, where they lost in the 1st round of the playoffs to the San Antonio Spurs.
The failure to even compete with the Warriors may give many fans in the area a reason to avoid attending Kings games or purchasing their merchandise. During the 2016-2017 season, the Kings traded their star player Demarcus Cousins. This hurt the Kings even more in merchandise revenue. The team needs to relocate where they can find themselves fans that stay loyal to them, and avoid nearby successes.
5 Destination: San Diego, California
After the city just lost an NFL team, I’m sure the people of San Diego would love a professional sports team to come in and take the Chargers' place. San Diego may be one of the most beautiful cites in the country, making it a clear destination for a team to want to relocate to. Many times, when trying to get star players to come to the city of a team, they look at the city and if they can market themselves in that city. San Diego is a gorgeous city on the coast with now many options to really market yourself as a player due to the Chargers leaving. There are endless opportunities for a new sports team to come in and steal the show, as the Chargers head up to Los Angeles. The Kings may not be the best team, but they help provide entertainment to sports fan in Southern California that just lost a loved team.
4 Leave: Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder fan base may have proven that they are one of the worst fanbases in the NBA after the departure of Kevin Durant. Usually when a star player leaves, as upsetting as it may be, you thank him for his time and wish the best for him in his future. Similar to what Cleveland did when LeBron James left, fans were seen on video burning jerseys and calling Kevin Durant a “traitor.” Whether or not you agree that the Warriors were the best place for Kevin Durant, you have to appreciate the fact that Durant wanted to win and build up his brand. If you go into Nike stores now, some sections are specifically dedicated to Kevin Durant. The departure of him to a new city helped build his brand even more.
With Paul George now being added to the team, this team has the ability to become a fan favorite team in the NBA. This story is written out to have a fairy-tale ending to it. Unfortunately, that fairy-tale ending has a different location. And that location does not have the Thunder in Oklahoma City.
3 Destination: Seattle, Washington
That perfect fairy-tale ending, brings back the NBA to Seattle. Russel Westbrook and Paul George join sports star in Seattle like Russel Wilson and Robinson Cano. With one of the biggest cities in the country, the fans will come out to support. The 12’s will help take the Thunder games to the next level. The best part about this idea, is that there are many fans of the SuperSonics still around in the Seattle area. Many fans that now cheer on the Thunder when they switched in 2008, will come back to games as the organization brings a team that could compete for the NBA Finals in the future.
This whole idea of bringing the organization back to Seattle may even give the Thunder a better shot at retaining both Westbrook and George in next year’s offseason. Seattle has grown especially with its’ football fans, a NBA team at this point in Seattle sports history would work out great. The reigning NBA MVP with the support of the 12’s, battling against rival Kevin Durant, would be an incredible story.
2 Leave: Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns, still trying to find their identity after the Steve Nash era. It may be difficult for the Suns to last in the hot, dessert city. Ranking in the bottom half of NBA team attendance, the team may want to look for a new home. Arizona primarily has been known for spring training for the MLB, besides that, it has not been known for those big-name sports teams. The Arizona teams have had some success, but not enough to keep them on headlines for long.
Even when successful, this team struggles to fill up the stands of their games. The Suns could get away with staying in Arizona, but for a team that is on the decline, that may want to look for a new location help bring up sales in merchandise and in tickets.
1 Relocation: Las Vegas, Nevada
Welcome to the Las Vegas Suns. The sunny team hits Nevada in the hottest city in America. According to Business Insider, Las Vegas is the 4th most popular tourist destination in the United States. Las Vegas is on the upcoming as one of the most popular growing sports cities in the country. In the past year, we have seen a NHL expansion team and the Raiders relocation process to Las Vegas.
Las Vegas is the perfect location for a sports team, especially one that requires being inside. Las Vegas is known as the entertainment capital of the world, and what better way to live by that saying than by adding a professional basketball team. Fans from Phoenix still close enough to sometimes travel to come visit, get a whole near Suns basketball experience. With the 42.9 million tourists coming into Las Vegas a year, it is easy for the Suns to sell merchandise and tickets through Las Vegas Boulevard.
With most tourists staying on the Las Vegas Strip, it makes it easy to get to T-Mobile Arena, which is right on the Strip. Merchandise can be sold at many of the stores along the Strip helping increase revenue to the team, and the city of Las Vegas. The addition of the Suns to Las Vegas helps benefit the city, and the team. Las Vegas is a perfect destination for any sports team, especially one that comes from a dessert area.