The days of major professional sports expansion look to be behind us for the time being. Billionaires and big corporations are less interested in striking out and trying to get fans excited about sports than in what they see as untapped markets or underrepresented areas, and they are more comfortable just repopulating cities with teams (Houston got the Texans after the Oilers left, pro hockey came back to the Twin Cities and Winnipeg, Cleveland got the Browns and their losing ways back, etc.) that already have proven fantasies.
Since the 1990s, when the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB started to spread out and try their luck (or retry in some cases) in places like the Carolinas, Tampa Bay, Orlando, and San Jose, some of those leagues also started to displace teams that might not have captured a lot of trophies, but had rabid fans who still mourn their hometown heroes picking up and moving.
So here we are, a little over two decades since the major leagues started to redraw their maps, and a few teams (not all of them expansion, mind you) still have us scratching our heads and wondering if, geographically speaking, they could make more sense elsewhere. Some are young in sports years, while a couple have been around long enough that they deserve a place to call their own.
Coming into the league along with the Carolina Panthers in 1995, the Jags and their hideous gold and teal uniforms capped off a quarter century of the largest city in Florida trying to lure other struggling franchises like a venus flytrap to the Sunshine State starting with the Baltimore Colts in 1979. Here's the problem with this: They play up the road from the University of Florida Gators, and there's no competing with that. Couple that with the fact that even though the Sunshine State is home to the only Super Bowl winning team to go undefeated in the Miami Dolphins, even that franchise is so unpopular that they hardly sell enough tickets to get their games shown on local television. So what's really the point of even having a team in Jacksonville, except to give retirees from other states an opportunity to see their hometown teams every year or so?
New York Jets
We aren't saying there shouldn't be two teams from the same city, but we would really suggest maybe letting one of the two teams have their own stadium. We'd even go as far as to say that one of them should have their own stadium in the five boroughs since both the Jets and Giants play in New Jersey. Doesn't that just seem a tad illogical? The only other thing that would make sense is to just start calling them the New Jersey Jets (or the Newark Airport Jets), and we can't really have that.
(Photo by Lintao Zhang / Getty Images)
In a division where 4 out of 5 teams are from California, just spicing up the Pacific should be incentive enough to ship somebody to another state. So which one should move? Ask yourself this: Have you ever actually met a fan of the Sacramento Kings? Wouldn't more people care if they just gave Seattle back the Supersonics? Or rolled the dice in Vegas?
Los Angeles Clippers
One team needs to leave the Golden State, another just needs to move out of their parents' basement. The only nice way to say this is that the Clippers were one of the more worthless franchises in the NBA (along with, yup, Sacramento) before they overtook Kobe and the Lakers for the hottest ticket in town. So maybe it's time for them to get their own place? Maybe somewhere a little outside of L.A., even? Maybe move them to Anaheim and call them the California Clippers?
Track with us here: The original Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans in 2002, then spent a couple years in and out of Oklahoma City after Katrina, moved back to New Orleans and eventually changed their mascot to the Pelicans last year, freeing up the Charlotte Bobcats to once again become the Hornets to honor a team with an attendance record so low (read: last) it had to move to New Orleans. So... maybe consider going to another part of North Carolina? We'd suggest a part where your professionals would come in at the back of the pack against dependable NCAA powerhouses like the University of North Carolina, Duke, and NC State. That, or find another combination like Muggsy Bogues, Zo, and Grandmama to keep us entertained.
Long gone are the days when we could complain about the fact that there are three teams in the state of California, and only six in all of Canada, since the Ducks, Sharks, and Kings have all shown they can not only compete, but come close to dynasty status in the case of Los Angeles. So if we're going to pick on a place that has no snow but multiple hockey teams, let's turn our attention to the Florida Panthers, their terrible record, their history of using their No. 1 picks in the draft to get big defensemen from Windsor, Ontario (Ed Jovanovski in 1994, Aaron Ekblad 20 years later in 2014), and their three fans. Let's look at the Panthers because despite what some might say, there's really no reason for them to exist while fans in places like Quebec City and even Hartford (HARTFORD!) would love to get another shot at a franchise. Even though nobody should ever have to apologize to South Florida, we're sorry, but the Panthers need to be put down.
See: Florida Panthers.