Every major city and a few minor ones, want a sports team. It’s a major thing to help put them on the map. It’s a big economic boost, it makes the cities look far more important and it enhances their standing nicely. Every time expansion is talked about, cities make major bids and do their best to secure a team. Of course, there are issues of starting out as too many expansion teams take a long time to get into contention and can suffer a while. However, some cities have shown that having a sports team isn’t something they really deserve.
It’s not just newer teams or ones that haven’t lived up to their potential. There are plenty of older franchises who don’t really deserve to be where they are. They can be ignored by their cities with horribly low attendance, no real passion and nothing to really boost them as much as they should have. Cities that worked hard to get teams end up not caring about them all that much while others are more than willing to give their bad teams up. Here are 15 cities who don’t deserve their sports franchises and something towns who want their own should consider.
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The worst of the bunch in this town have to be the Timberwolves. They are dead last in attendance in the NBA, driven by how they haven’t had a playoff appearance or a winning season in over a decade and often cited among the absolute worst franchises in all of sports. The Twins are long removed from their one time World Series glory of 1991, winning a divisional title in 2010 but lost 103 games in 2016. As for the Vikings, they still have plenty of fans but sadly, too few winning seasons and lots of playoff losses in the last decade have ruined the love fans have for them.
It really is the Timberwolves dragging the town down with their horrible record and play and how a city infamous for cold weather has a hard time getting warm for their local sports.
When the Thrashers left the city to head to Winnipeg and become the Jets, there wasn’t exactly a huge outcry as their attendance was horrible. That speaks a lot about Atlanta, a city that often seems to enjoy trashing their teams more than enjoying their success. The Braves haven’t seen massive success since the 1990s, their few divisional titles far between and their average attendance barely filling half of their stadium. The Hawks are having some good seasons lately but are having serious trouble getting fans to come in, their attendance among the lowest in the NBA.
The Falcons are a bit better attendance wise but you never get a feeling of Atlanta as a serious sports city for their pro teams. The college ones do bigger business in merchandising and thus Georgia’s main town doesn’t seem to be a sports haven.
13 San Francisco
Let’s get the positives out of the way. The Giants have won three World Series in the last six seasons and stayed strong so they have major backing from their fans. The Warriors had the best single-season record in NBA history in 2015-16 and were close to winning a second straight championship so they’re great too. But then there are the 49ers. Once, they were THE team for the City By the Bay, winning five Super Bowls over a decade and Joe Montana making them one of the best teams in the NFL.
In the last decade, the team has seen some major fall, a lot of losing seasons, a few wild card appearances and even a Super Bowl appearance. Under Jim Harbaugh, the team made it to three straight NFC Championships. Much of the talk is on their bad stuff more than good (see the Colin Kaepernick controversy this year) and thus, while they’re great at basketball and baseball, football is no longer something San Fran residents can point to with pride.
Way back when the Senators played there, the common joke on Washington was “first in war, first in peace, last in the American League.” Today, that’s been spread to several of their teams. The Redskins have seen success with Super Bowls but have had some rough years too, playoff losses and the ensuing controversy over their very name. The Wizards have shown very little magic, their last divisional titles in the 1970s and despite playoff attempts in the last few seasons, they still have a lot of losing seasons.
The Capitals are a bit better with some backing from fans but the Nationals are another story. Despite how they won their division, the team still fails to sell out a lot and famously put Fenway Park on the cover of the team calendar. Washington is a tough town on politics but worse for sports teams who can be as chaotic as their political home.
The Bengals have seen serious ups and downs over the years from Super Bowl appearances to some truly awful years and haven’t won a playoff game since 1991. They are still trying but appear overwhelmed and the vast rows of empty seats at Paul Brown Stadium show how hard it is for fans to get behind them. But that’s nothing compared to the Reds. Once upon a time, this was one of the biggest teams in baseball, dominating in the 1970s with back to back World Series and another one in 1990.
But since then, the Reds have gained a few divisional titles but nothing else major, often eliminated early in the playoffs and losing seasons have become the norm. Often, they barely fill half of their stadiums up and the fact Cincinnati papers talk Cleveland teams more than their own show how low the town’s opinion of their sports are.
When the Braves came to Milwaukee in the 1950s, it was a huge deal as the city took them to heart and were repaid by back to back pennants and a World Championship. But the love died down, leading the Braves to leave for Atlanta and suddenly Milwaukee complained of no team. They would gain the Brewers and the Bucks but things aren’t that great. The Brewers have been to only one World Series and lots of losing years with pretty bad seasons overall. The Bucks did score a championship in 1981 but their last divisional title was 2001 and their seasons have been pretty bad since then. Each team has lacked a major presence with fans, plenty of empty seats at their games and not clicking well with sales of merchandise. The city is well known for drinking but not enough for love for two big sports teams.
In football, this southern city does well. The Panthers have had some great runs, including their fantastic 2015 season where they went 15-1 and a try at the Super Bowl. However, the backlash has been big on how the Panthers collapsed in 2016 with a bad losing season and the same fans ripping the team for coming apart this badly. But the Hornets are another story.
Technically, the Bobcats were created in 2004, but they got the Hornets name when New Orleans (who had been the original Hornets) changed their name to the Pelicans and gave it back. That confusing backstory may be a key reason fans don’t get into the team that much, not helped by their bad seasons. They’ve had only a handful of playoff appearances, the majority of them eliminated in the first round and even with Michael Jordan as owner, can’t get basketball fans excited for them.
Charlotte doesn’t seem that inclined to power through the bad times of sports as much as winning seasons.
The Diamondbacks won the World Series in 2001, beating the Yankees after just three seasons around. The Cardinals have been to the Super Bowl, the Suns to the NBA Finals twice but the Coyotes have been terrible, save for a few playoff appearances. Yet, every one of those teams has had trouble packing in fans. The Diamondbacks have one of the largest stadiums in the majors but it’s half-empty most of the time and even during their Finals runs, the Suns and Cardinals didn’t exactly get things going.
The Coyotes barely take in 13,000 fans a game, one of the lowest attendances in the NHL. It’s amazing that a city with a franchise in each major sport doesn’t seem to care too much about them. The desert heat maybe killing off some of the fan love. Regardless, Phoenix stands as a town that doesn’t seem to deserve one team, let alone four.
It’s not just how Buffalo isn’t as well known or huge as New York or the crummy weather. Their sports teams are infamous for some of the absolute biggest heartbreaks in history. The Bills are the only team to lose four straight Super Bowls, an agony that still hurts and overshadows the few good winning seasons they have. The Sabres last reached the Stanley Cup in 1999 and lost in one of the most controversial calls in NHL history. Since then, winning seasons have been few and far between and even in winning years, they have trouble packing in fans in huge numbers.
The city's sports teams are more famous for the pain they’ve brought fans than the good times and that makes it harder for their fans to get behind and root for them. Buffalo isn’t a bad town but their sports make it harder to enjoy the fall and winter than the cold weather.
Now, the Raiders have always had an incredibly hot fanbase, even in their harder years. With the team having an actually great season in 2016, they’re not an issue. What is an issue are the Athletics. A team that had been inherited from Kansas City, the A’s were once a major powerhouse, winning three straight World Championships in the 1970s and another powerful run in the late 1980s for another title. But in the decades since, Oakland has seen some rough times. They’ve managed some divisional titles but then beaten in the playoffs and haven’t reached a World Series since 1990. Even in their better years, they’ve seen only sixty percent of their stadium filled and the passion once held for them has long since vanished. Oakland is pretty much Raiders town now as the A’s are forgotten by their own hometown a lot.
On paper, 2016 should be the year Cleveland finally escaped the agony of sports shame. After 52 years, the city could at last raise a championship banner with the Cavs making a sensational comeback to win the NBA title. Then the Indians rose up to win the AL Pennant and come within a few runs of the World Series. In that regard, Cleveland should be doing great except for one thing: the Browns. The absolute joke of the NFL for decades, the Browns haven’t had a playoff appearance since 2002 and exactly one winning season since.
They’re currently on a push to possibly become the third 0-16 team in NFL history and slammed for their horrible management moves. This is the team that drafted Johnny Manziel then allowed him to epically self-destruct before he could do any good. The sight of fans wearing sacks over their heads is legendary and somehow they keep coming back for more. Cleveland may be doing great with two of their teams but the Browns is an agony no city should put up with.
Canada may be “hockey country” but the Maple Leafs aren’t that well regarded. A team that once dominated with 13 Stanley Cups have had only one playoff appearance in the last 12 years and infamous for some of the stupidest management moves in the NHL. The Blue Jays won back to back World Series in the early 1990s but then hit a major slump and while they’ve won the division in the last year, they still have trouble filling seats. While the Raptors made a decent run in the playoffs last year, they aren’t exactly known for their great work on the court either. The fact that basketball isn’t a big deal in Canada works against them too as you’re hard pressed to find a regular game sellout for their games.
Canada may be hot for hockey but Toronto doesn’t seem inclined to root much for their three teams.
3 San Diego
The big calling for this California city is their terrific zoo and nice golf courses. Aside from that, it’s not really known for a passionate fanbase and their two teams show that. The Chargers have had a few good seasons here and there but their attendance is so low that talk of them being moved to another city hasn't really created huge outcry to let them stay in San Diego.
The Padres meanwhile have sunk among the least attended in baseball, very bad seasons all around and a half-joke is that most in their own division forget they exist. They barely fill up half of Petco Stadium and haven’t had a winning season in a decade. The fact San Diego doesn’t seem to mind losing an NFL team shows how low the love of the city is reserved more for the beach and zoo than the sports teams.
The Kings are the oldest franchise in the NBA, their origins going back to 1948 in Rochester. They’ve moved plenty of times before settling on Sacramento, which may be the capital of California but not exactly known as a major city in its own right. The only championship in team history was in 1958 and while they had a push winning divisional titles in 2002 and ’03, they’ve since spent years in the basement. The Kings have had a very bad history of horrible seasons with a famous bit as in 2013, the team was sold to Chris Hansen, who planned to move them to Seattle to become a new SuperSonics. It was blocked by the mayor and city council but most fans don’t seem to care as attendance remains low. The city may be the capital of California but certainly not for its local sports team.
Jacksonville is a lovely city on the upper coast of Florida. It has a great populace, a good economy, wonderful beaches and a nice influx of sports fans thanks to how the annual Florida/Georgia game is played there. When they won the rights to an NFL franchise in 1993, the city was excited, hopeful for a great boost to things. Sadly, the Jaguars have failed to live up to any of that potential. They have gotten a few division wins and playoff chances but nothing major. Far too many losing seasons have occurred and while there is a fanbase, it’s not as huge as it could be for a good team, way too many blackouts due to low attendance.
It really is a shame as Jacksonville has the ingredients for a good sports base in Florida but don’t seem to care too much about the team today as the Jaguars hardly roar.
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