Murphy's Law

Column: Expansion possibilities for professional sports

Seattle may be a good city to host a new NHL franchise. Photo courtesy of Joshulove//Wikimedia.

While most of you have probably been focused on the World Series or week nine of college football, I came across two interesting stories that broke in the sports world this week pertaining to possible expansions and moves for professional sports teams. First, a report surfaced that billionaire William Foley, who is an executive for Fidelity National Financial, has been in “serious talks” about bringing an NHL team to Las Vegas. This has been a rumor for years, but it seems like it might actually happen in the very near future.

The other report, which is most likely a rumor, has the Tampa Bay Rays possibly moving to Montreal. While this one is more of a stretch, it is a possibility since the front office of Tampa Bay is in transition as both its manager and general manager both left the franchise, and the fan base in St. Petersburg, Florida is extremely lackluster.

With all this talk of expansion and relocation, I’ll look at different cities that would be perfect for new teams: Las Vegas, London, Seattle, Toronto, Los Angeles and Vancouver.

Las Vegas: When expansion is brought up in any of the four major sports, Las Vegas undoubtedly comes up in the conversation. Numerous NBA and NHL preseason games have been played there since the early ‘90s, so it makes sense that Sin City would be able to support a professional sports team. However, leagues have been hesitant to jump on the Las Vegas market because of its connection to gambling

Possible team name: BlackJacks, because of the preferred pastime in Las Vegas.

London: The NFL played its first game in London seven years ago and has played at least one game per season there ever since. This year, it was three games; next year, it’s rumored to be five games. If the NFL were seriously interested in putting a team across the pond, it could do it in two ways. First, it could start the team as an expansion team, something that hasn’t happened in the NFL since 2002, when the Houston Texans were established. Second, it could move a team with a struggling fan base like, Jacksonville, over to the U.K.

Possible team name: RedCoats, a name that would further the American-British rivalry.

Seattle: Obviously, Seattle is home to the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks, as well as Major League Baseball’s Mariners and Major League Soccer’s Sounders FC. This market would be perfect for an NHL team, as well as an NBA team. Ever since the SuperSonics left in 2008, there has been talk of an NBA return. The main hurdle for this, however, is the arena. The KeyArena is small and outdated. If there is any hope of a new franchise, a larger, state-of-the-art arena must be built.

Possible team name: Spacers, in refer- ence to the Space Needle that is a popular Seattle attraction.

Toronto: If the NFL wanted to gain an international presence, this would obviously be the easiest way to do so — much easier than expanding to England. The Buffalo Bills have played at the Rogers Centre on multiple occasions over the last two decades, and the support has been pretty positive. This is also a market that could possibly support another NHL team. Will that happen? Probably not, as the city already has the Leafs. I’d put my money on an NFL team, though.

Possible team name: Freeze, because of the not-so-mild winter weather in Toronto.

Los Angeles: Los Angeles has everything else, so why not another run at an NFL team? It’s been 20 years since the last NFL game was played there, but this could soon be changing. If the NFL were to expand to 34 teams, LA has got to be a favorite to get one of the new teams. The only thing holding this up, like for most cities, is a new stadium. Proposals have been made to build a stadium in downtown LA to host the possible new NFL team.

Possible team name: Stars, because the city is known for being the movie capital of the U.S.

Vancouver, Canada: Vancouver is a great sports town. Between the Canucks (NHL), the Whitecaps (MLS) and the BC Lions (CFL), the fan base there is extremely passionate no matter what sport is being played. The city also hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, which was a major success. I think that an MLB, NFL or NBA team there would be a perfect place for expansion. This would also create a great geographical rivalry with Seattle in any sport.

Possible team name: Mounties, because of Canadian mounted police force.

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