Community Shootaround: Best Expansion Cities

Kansas City has been off the NBA map since the Kings moved to Sacramento in 1985, but there’s a push to bring it back. A report emerged last night that Kansas City is on the short list to get a franchise the next time the league expands.

“Kansas City will get an NBA team at some point. … Just a matter of time,” an unidentified league executive told NBA scout Jarrett Sutton. “Seattle and KC, to me, are most valuable markets for league expansion when it makes sense.”

Seattle has been among the front-runners for a new franchise ever since the SuperSonics were moved to Oklahoma City a decade ago. Late last year, Seattle’s City Council approved a $650MM renovation project at Key Arena, the Sonics’ former home, with the goal of attracting an NBA or NHL franchise before the end of the decade. The league is planning a preseason game in Seattle in October, so its commitment to the Pacific Northwest city seems solid.

Kansas City is more of a surprise, but it does have a 19,000-seat facility to offer in the Sprint Center. The city was never considered an NBA hotbed when the Kings were there from 1972-85, and they adopted Omaha, Nebraska, as a dual home city for three of those seasons. However, Kansas City is one of the largest media markets without an NBA team and it offers a larger television market than either Oklahoma City or New Orleans.

Here are a few other locations the league may consider when it decides the time is right to expand:

  • Louisville — The city has a rich college basketball tradition and the 22,000-seat KFC Yum! Center. The Kentucky Colonels were among the most successful and well-supported ABA teams, but the city has never gotten a shot at the NBA. Louisville made efforts to attract the Rockets, Grizzlies and Hornets last decade, but came up empty each time.
  • Las Vegas — The NHL’s Golden Knights have been a huge hit in their first season in Vegas, and their new T-Mobile Arena could easily house a basketball team. The Las Vegas Summer League has become a must-see event on the NBA calendar with all 30 teams now signed up. The Oakland Raiders are headed to town soon, and the city may want to add a basketball franchise as well.
  • Vancouver — The NBA struck out in its first attempt to put a team in western Canada, but it hasn’t given up on the market. With the Rogers Arena housing the Canucks, a facility is already in place. However, if Seattle is a lock for an expansion franchise, it’s hard to imagine the league putting another team so close by.
  • Mexico City — The NBA has long tried to expand the borders of its fan base and has scheduled two regular season games in Mexico City in each of the past two seasons. The Palacio de los Deportes can hold more than 20,000 fans, and commissioner Adam Silver has discussed putting a G League team there and launching an NBA Academy for Latin American and Caribbean players.
  • Pittsburgh — The Steel City hasn’t had a team since the early days of the ABA, but it does have PPG Paints Arena, which can hold 19,000 people for basketball. The city also boasts an enthusiastic fan base, especially for its NFL and NHL teams. Five years ago, David Stern listed Pittsburgh as a possible expansion site, and the city was mentioned as a potential destination when the Pistons discussed relocation in 2010.

We want to get your input. The next expansion franchise will probably go to Seattle, but if the NBA adds two teams, who should get the other one? Please leave you feedback in the comments section below.

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37 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: Best Expansion Cities

  1. the sterling don

    Would love to see Pittsburgh get a team.
    I get what Silver is trying to do with Mexico City but that would be a bad idea.

  2. camdenyards46

    Mexico City is definitely not happening, Louisville is a smaller city so that is doubtful, a team so close to a Seattle team in Vancouver is doubtful(as stated above), so that leaves Pittsburgh, KC, and Vegas as viable options. The Knights and their new arena have worked out well, and Kansas City and Pittsburgh have already shown they can support multiple sports teams.

  3. hiflew

    The three biggest TV markets that are not associated with NBA teams are Tampa, Seattle, and St. Louis. You could probably argue that even though it is technically a different market, that Orlando covers Tampa/St.Pete. That leaves Seattle and St. Louis. At the very least St, Louis deserves to be in the conversation. They have NBA history with the Hawks and they had one of the last ABA franchises with the Spirits.

    If I was making a top 5 list of cities that deserve the next franchise, whether expansion or relocation it would go like this.

    1. Seattle (expansion only)
    2. St. Louis
    3. Baltimore
    4. Vegas
    5. Louisville

  4. Michael Chaney

    I’m assuming Seattle is a lock, which probably leaves one other city unless another team relocated.

    I mentioned last night on a different post that Louisville should get one (the return of the Kentucky Colonels would be awesome), but I think Vegas would be a great fit too and either of those would probably be good spots. Kansas City probably wouldn’t be a bad choice, but it’s behind the other three in my opinion.

  5. x%sure

    Call it Missouri or Mizzou and play in both KC and STL. That way a sizable fanbase is guaranteed. Make them compete at ticket-buying for who gets the most or best games.

    Same for Seattle and Vancouver, call it Cascades.

    Ohio Valley could play in Louisville, Cinti, Pittsbrg, or Nashville.

    One team in Mexico seems odd. Two would be better, but 32 teams is a good place to stop. Better than 30; I am in favor of expansion; there are more than enough good players, and some teams only seem to want young ones anyway.

    NO to Vegas. They already have hockey, it is small, and should be smaller not bigger. There isn’t enough renewable water in Nevada for the city as is. The gambling feature will be spread all over on a smaller scale after the recent SCOTUS decision… There is no need for for Vegas’ main function… which anyway corrupts and would tempt players.
    Peole can debate about the the gambling but at this point VEGAS SHOULD NOT EVEN EXIST. IT’S DRY. The US gov’t should build a wall around it and reserve Nevada for dumping toxic waste. Halt rant

  6. In the last post about this I already made a strong case for Seattle, so let’s assume that Seattle is a lock. Then I would love to go with one that I have never heard mentioned by anyone but I think it would work just as well as Seattle. SAN DIEGO, again is a very big city, great place to visit, a very beautiful city too, I always thought the Clippers should go home back to San Diego, & now without the Chargers, which I have seen playing at the awesome Qualcomm Stadium, it was rocking what an atmosphere that they can create, I think it would be a great place to attract FA, one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visit, great culture too.
    So it would be amazing that the 2 new teams or Clippers relocation where Seattle & San Diego, man.

    • Pitches Love Velocity

      San Diego makes a lot of sense. The only professional team is the padres and if you can get an owner who is committed to winning and get a franchise that is heavily invested in community relations youll get support.

      Esp if the team can become a rival of LA.

      • x%sure

        Teams in So-Cal tend to drift to LA. There’s enough LA-based franchises now.

  7. Connorsoxfan

    Seattle and KC will get teams, and then St Louis and Pittsburgh in the next round of expansion. Pittsburgh might get it instead of KC if Amazon goes to Pittsburgh potentially.

  8. So x%sure, how much exactly did you lose the last time you went to Vegas?

    I’m not a fan of the city myself, but you can’t deny the viability of it as a pro sports market. The city has grown from a little over 200K permanent residents in 1990 to 650K currently. Add in Henderson et al, and the greater Vegas area has 2M people.

    Vegas as a city proper is bigger than current NBA cities like Minny, New Orleans, Oakland, Sacramento and Miami. It is also bigger than KC and Louisville.

    The popularity of the Knights should not be shocking, and with a rich college and summer League basketball tradition, an NBA team’s popularity would not be shocking either. Add in the fact that the Raiders are coming and whether you like it or not, Vegas makes a lot of sense.

    Two to three cities sharing a team (other than Minneapolis/St. Paul is a bad idea. You need to allow a fan base to connect with a team, and having only half to a third of its home games won’t allow for that connection.

    In the end Seattle is a yes, Vancouver no (proximity to Seattle), KC a no, Louisville a no, Baltimore a no, St. Louis a no, Mexico City a maybe (only because of Silver) and Vegas a likely.

    • x%sure

      A lot of fans would be drawn to a half-season ticket as it is much more affordable… and doubling the cities means volume replaces upselling. But these cities are not that far apart for the devoted.
      In Missouri, the team would be a uniter, not a resentment across the state.
      The Ohio Valley is good basketball country; Louisville would sell out an arena on its own but the TV market is small.

      If Vegas gets the Raiders too then the fans will get tapped out. Why do you call this a good thing, playing me-too? How does the Raiders or knights count as assets for the NBA? It was a bad idea before those franchises, and a worse one now.
      Also, the population base dwindles sharply outside the city. It is desert out there. In the East people live in every nook and cranny and cities draw them out for entertainment.

  9. Ken H

    The list is a good one, but don’t forget Nashville, St. Louis and San Diego. On a side note, Pittsburgh never embraced basketball, and the Pittsburgh Pipers of the ABA never had a lot of success there. It’s a Steelers and Pirates town. Also, look for Orlando, the LA Clippers and possibly New Orleans to move over the next three years, as these discussions are already underway. Seattle and Vegas seem to be the targeted NBA cities right now for existing teams.

    • Matt Galvin

      The Magic at one time were looking at KC. Tampa Bay has where the Lighting play. Jacksonville,Green Bay,Montreal,Hawaii,Alaska,San Jose,New England,Anahiem and so on. Chicago or New York a second team?

      • Michael Chaney

        New York already essentially has a second team in the Nets.

        And why would Chicago need a second team? The Bulls are still really popular there (maybe out of MJ nostalgia, maybe not), and it just doesn’t seem to make sense to add another team there.

    • Michael Chaney

      I like Nashville a lot as a city, but I doubt it would be a good spot for an NBA team. The league wouldn’t put another team in Tennessee since the Grizzlies are already there.

    • Pitches Love Velocity

      San Diego and St Louis make a lot of sense considering the rams and chargers left leaving really only 1 major team in San Diego and 2 in st Louis- hockey being one of them.

  10. mcmillankmm

    It seems like Seattle is more than likely. I wonder if Vegas will get a strong look now. Although I wonder if adding a team in Vegas would be too many teams all at once. Kansas City or St. Louis would make sense it seems though.

  11. Z-A

    I don’t get the Mexico angle from NFL and NBA. I mean why Mexico City? Why not Juarez? If you’re going to put million dollar athlete’s in cartel land, why not go full tilt?

    • xtraflamy

      Probably because DF has almost a 9MM population, with 21MM in the metro area. Much easier to sell out a stadium of 25K when you only have to attract .001 of the population to do it. Plus, if it catches on, it could lead to some really competitive availability for tickets.

      • xtraflamy

        Also — as to your mention of the cartels — imagine the financial boon for Carlos Slim (both in ticket sales, and in media). I think his influence, power, and money could keep any interference in check.

    • Man… how can you say that, FYI Mexico City is a very beautiful place, & unlike what that ignorant Trump says Mexicans are very very nice people, not rapists, gangbangers or narcos. Did you know that Mexico City has more rich people living there than any other city in the American continent, & all of them live there without problem… Mexico City is the 8th richest city in the world & the most populated… so I think it would be a very good idea to have a team in there. Just give Mexicans some love man.

  12. DMWBAGFv2

    Expand to 10-12 more cities. Create an A league and a B league and being in relegation.

    • x%sure

      Great idea! Excitement is created at both the top and bottom of the league. No more tanking!

  13. alb-3

    Louisville would be a success because it would be the only game in town, much like Vegas is. Think of all that corporate money that would by season tickets.

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