Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Next Expansion Team. What's the Smartest Way for the Leagues to do it? Region Teams Equal More buy-in.

When I think of the next expansions these are the cities that pop in my brain first:

Portland and Charlotte for MLB
Questionable cities for where it's at now is Tampa and Oakland.  They're constant targets throughout my blog posts.  Re-locate?  Pull the old Baltimore to Indy with Tampa to Charlotte and Oakland to Portland.  Why abandon?  Why not co-locate and share?

NFL is Los Angeles and Toronto.
Questionable cities throughout my blog posts are St. Louis and Jacksonville.  And even a new home for the Raiders.  The Rams.  Ha, those old L.A. teams.

As far as the NHL, it's still obviously more north-centric.  Portland and Seattle in addition to the talked about Toronto2 and Quebec team?  I think if another team HAD to be in the south, one would probably think of Atlanta (though failed there recently), Las Vegas and Houston as far as markets.
Others south?  Oklahoma City and Iowa have AHL teams anyway.
But Seattle and Portland seem to be the talk on the American side of the ponds.  Yep, north.

For big show basketball there is a much more robust list of sustainable and feasible candidates that will be poised in the future.  More cities are on the docket for the NBA as well as MLS.

Regional Teams

I think the next expansion should be much further reaching for any league.  It shouldn't be named (or just be in) Portland or Charlotte.  How does "West Coast" or "Eastern" sound  for more buy-in?
Wouldn't it be cool for Las Vegas or Salt Lake City to have more for something to root for?
We can at least have more inclusive branding.  Some hometown pride may be diminished.  But the love could be spread across more territory.

I can't ignore the power of place.  I personally don't want the Cincinnati Reds to be named the Ohio Reds.  I'm Cinci born and bred.  Midwestern Reds?  Eh.  I do have an argument of over 100 years of traditional base.  Would I care to share the Bengals with Columbus and/or Louisville?  Or if the Rams head back to a rightful home in Los Angles would I be willing to share the River City Bengals with St. Louis?  Either way, I'd rather have some than none as far as major league representation.  What are your thoughts?
I think Las Vegas or Portland would love some home (camp) games for the West Coast Raiders.  I think the Gateway city of St. Louis would rather have the Western Rams than nothing at all.  I think home games camped there would certainly be more festive than the norm.  I'm willing to bet San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Salt Lake City, Oakland, Portland and Las Vegas would agree.  Power of place is a market study.  I'd like to know more.  A historical example is how Kansas City shared an NBA team with Omaha and a little with St. Louis.

Essentially, our professional athletes and even college athletes are mercenaries.  We accept that concept.  It's better to have than to not have.  For instance if you now have (share) a pro baseball or football team and have 40 and 4 home (camp) games, respectively, would it not be cool?  Mississippi has the Mississippi Braves baseball minor league affiliate team for big-time Braves baseball housed in Atlanta and named the Atlanta Braves, but wouldn't Mississippi and Alabama love it more if they were just called the "Southern Braves"?

At least, I feel the big leagues should call (and include in the name) the next expansion teams more.  It would even be cooler to host regular season and playoff games in more camps of a region.
When 1993 kicked off with Marlins and Rockies baseball, I think baseball was on to the right idea.  The Denver Rockies, Miami Marlins and Phoenix Diamondbacks (1997) isn't as inclusive of a name as the wider geographic swath.

The Marlins retracted to their family name of Miami after the state had a Tampa named team in the north of Florida.  They could become the Florida Marlins again if the Rays move or the Marlins also play games in Jacksonville camp.

Toss it around

For once per week American Football, L.A. Cali seems to be a region by itself.  Toronto is a political issue for league affiliation.  Their CFL team is the oldest professional sports franchise around.  Portland seeps into the argument.  So do Texas people of San Antonio brand.  I think we all know Alabama can handle more than two big games in a week.  The strong feeling of community to kick off the week.

Baseball might be the hardest deal for multiple locations in my camp team argument, but as far as having an all inclusive name with a regional tag, I believe it's very doable.  I could see the Southern Braves or Saints or Titans.  It could probably help the Jaguars money.  Certainly thinking of Atlanta for a hub of the south is an easy example.  I can't help but to think, since the ATL is about to help have two major league stadiums for baseball because one is being built and the other is about a decade and a half old that a southern-named baseball would be neat.  The city is the hub of the south.  But market reality is that big time baseball requires more money than double that in an area than any other major league sport.  Even Atlanta probably couldn't begin to fill the "Southern" stands on Tuesday night baseball when there is already a Braves base.

Branding.  A team simply re-named something West and South can work next round ...for any of the sports really.  Western Broncos?  Southern Saints?  West Coast Raiders?  Even in name, the sole location can stay the same.  But the soul location will be expanded.  St. Louis could house and share in on a West Rams or Raiders team.

What about camping out?  Imagine the Metropolitans expanding their brand from New York island to become the Eastland Metropolitans of let's say Indianapolis, Columbus and/or Buffalo.  Think Nashville and Charlotte.  Would apparel sales counter locational operating costs?  Wouldn't a great public service to Long Island taxpayers be housing amateur grown-up knothole leagues to get to play big league vacant time spans in Big League facilities.  Isn't that more buy-in?  "I (Joe Schmoe) played at Citi Field last Saturday", as the Mets were playing in Indianapolis about ready to kick off their road stand on the west coast.  Shake it up.
That's my team.  I shed sweat on that field.  It could be said.

LINK---Sporting: A talk on Sense of Place

NBA:  What about the Old West Grizzlies in Vegas, Kansas City and Memphis?  What about a franchise called "Eastern Standard" in the NBA.  What cities could they camp in?  Stuff like that.
NHL:  I think Milwaukee and Cleveland could have a Great Lakes moniker to share a top league ice bridge.
They can keep their AHL teams.  What do you say to the Southtown Predators play in Nashville and Atlanta?

More feasibility studies are needed to be taken in by me for me to sort out.  How much does it cost to run a top notch facility versus the incoming cost for tickets and concessions and all that jazz.

See more expansion, co-location and relocation talk for football, baseball, basketball, hockey and soccer on my blog (starting in Feb 2014, see table of contents/archive):  Major League/Pro Expansion <CLICK> http://prosportsexpansion.blogspot.com/ 
And please feel free to contribute your two cents with mine. 

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