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There is no word more dreaded in sports than relocation. The idea that your favorite team would rather be somewhere else than where they current are is hard enough as it is. It’s only made worse when the reasonings are eventually leaked out.
Whether it’s lack of support from the city or fans, financial issues or even trying to get into a different market to attract more free agents, there are various reasons why a team may move. It doesn’t ease the pain the city may go through, however it provides a little clarity into the situation.
So let’s take a look at teams that may want to consider relocation. This article isn’t meant to spite fans of these franchises or even rile them up. Rather it’s to show that maybe a fresh start wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Ideal Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Fun fact, in 2019, the city of Oakland had three professional teams: the Oakland Raiders (NFL), the Golden State Warriors (NBA) and the Oakland A’s (baseball). In the years since, the Warriors moved to San Francisco and the Raiders moved to Las Vegas, leaving many to wonder, “when are the A’s going to move?“
The fact is, the A’s are at a point where they may have to move. The good will from the success of “Moneyball” has faded away – they were in the bottom ten of attendance throughout baseball and if we’re being frank, nobody wants to play for them. Even with the possibility of a new stadium for the team, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has said a new stadium in Oakland is unlikely.
It’s time for A’s to move on, and there’s one city that makes the most sense for them: Las Vegas.
It’s no longer a question of “if Las Vegas gets a team,” but “when” they get one, they’ll more than likely get an established franchise rather than an expansion team. Manfred has openly spoken about putting a team in Sin City for the last couple years. With a chance boost the team’s finances and attendance, he may be provided the golden ticket to do so.
Ideal Location: Quebec City, Quebec
The Arizona Coyotes were a pivotal part in developing a Sun Belt group of teams in the NHL. If the original Winnipeg Jets never moved to Phoenix, teams like Carolina Hurricanes, Vegas Golden Knights and Nashville Predators wouldn’t have had the push they needed to be added or relocated. However, unlike those teams, their ownership let them down hard.
As mentioned in our piece about organizations who need to push the reset button, Arizona has had numerous issues with how the team is run. The fact the team will be playing in a 5,000 seat arena is the cherry on-top of this depressing situation. They may have officially reached the point of no return, where starting from scratch may be their only way back.
At the center of this needs to be a new city, mainly as it seems nobody in the state of Arizona wants them (Glendale has allegedly shut out the franchise and the Phoenix Suns have no desire to share a stadium). So why not go someplace that’s wanted a team for nearly three decades now, Quebec City?
With the return of the Winnipeg Jets and the varying degrees of success in play as well great success in terms of attendance, it may be time to see a return of the Quebec Nordiques. Nostalgia always sells, and to see a team return may give a boost to it’s value. At this point, that may be more important than anything to them.
Ideal Location: London, United Kingdom
Every year, the same cycle plays out: Jacksonville finishes the season (often missing the playoffs), final attendances for the season are revealed, owner Shahid Khan is asked in a press conference or interview if he has plans to move the team to London, he denies it, the NFL schedule for the next year is revealed, and Jacksonville (as usual) has a game in London. It’s become such a routine that if the day comes when he announces the team is relocating there, it may actually be a surprise.
Duval County is one of the more passionate fan bases in football, that’s not the issue. It’s more about the quantity of their fans going to games. They’ve been a lower attendance percentage team for the last few years and this is despite grabbing two of the most exciting players to come out of the draft in recent years.
The fact that Jacksonville has played in London every year since 2013 (except in 2020) has done nothing but fuel further speculation. In a way it’s become similar to the lead up of the Rams moving from St. Louis to Los Angeles. Knowing how that ended, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see this play out.
After the success of the Munich, Germany game, there’s a good chance that the league looks into more European cities to host games. That could eventually lead to a division or possibly a league similar to NFL Europe, which would make this entry moot. Until then, Jaguars to London is something to keep an eye on.
Ideal Location: Seattle, Washington
There’s no way to sugar coat this, but nobody cares about the Sacramento Kings until the trade deadline. In a market has more successful teams (Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors) as well as more exciting teams (Los Angeles Clippers), why would anybody like Sacramento?
The fact is, Sacramento’s low attendance and lack of success means a relocation may be needed for them to even stay relevant. That’s where Seattle comes in.
Over the last few decades, Seattle has seen a renaissance in their sports teams. A Super Bowl win by the Seahawks, multiple WNBA championships by the Storm and a reemergence by the Mariners has had fans coming in droves to support their teams. That combined with the support shown towards the Seattle SuperSonics in an effort to save them from moving to Oklahoma City shows that maybe a second chance is warranted.
It’s time to let go of the Kings and bring back the Sonics (or a different nickname).
Los Angeles Chargers
Ideal location: San Diego/St. Louis
Wait, why? The Chargers attendance is higher in Los Angeles than it was in San Diego. What sense would it make to move back or to another location?
The answer is simple, they’re an afterthought to the Los Angeles fan base. It’s not even a case where they’re the “other” Los Angeles team like the Clippers or Angels, they’re just not thought of as a team from that city. A good portion of fans still think of them as a team from San Diego, and it’s been five seasons already.
The longer the team is in Los Angeles, the more it feels like this was ploy by owner Dean Spanos to get a new stadium out of the city of San Diego that just backfired. Their best option may be to crawl back to their original home and try to mend their broken bridges.
If San Diego ultimately decides they have no interest in the Chargers, then the City of St. Louis should jump at the opportunity. In the five years since the Rams left for Los Angeles (where they’re seen as THE Los Angeles football team), they’ve battled the league and their former team in legal cases. While not completely the same as the city of Cleveland suing for a chance to get the Browns back after moving to Baltimore, the similarities are still there.
Given that the NFL has had various public relations nightmares over the years, they could use some good will. Bringing a team back to the “Gateway to the West” could go a long way.