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.