It’s long been speculated that the NBA is looking to expand to bring other franchises into the league. However, the league made it clear that no conversations on expansion would take place until after the Collective Bargaining Agreement was negotiated and agreed upon. Now that the CBA has been settled, expansion talks can resume and there are a few cities who are eager for consideration. The league is rumored to be looking to add two teams so that each conference has the same number of teams with approximate dates for debut set for 2018 or 2019. Here are some of the cities who have been rumored to be on the list.
Seattle was home to the Supersonics for 54 years from 1967-2008. But in 2008, the franchise chose to uproot and move to Oklahoma City where they became the Oklahoma City Thunder. The NBA has wanted to bring a franchise back to Seattle since the Supersonics left, but they haven’t had a team who they could move. Now that expansion is an option the city is making preparations for welcoming another NBA team and hopefully an NHL team to the area again. However, Seattle will need to make arrangements for an arena that is compatible with NBA & NHL standards. Los Angeles based Oak View Group is looking to make the necessary renovations to KeyArena and these renovations will need to include detailed plans of how the uptown area of Seattle will handle the influx of traffic and activity. Seattle is home to roughly $3.7 million people so bringing an NBA franchise back to this bustling city can only mean good things for the league.
- Mexico City
The NBA is a US based organization, but the list of international players who play in the league grows each year. As of October 2016, the NBA listed a record 113 international players from 41 different countries and territories around the world. The NBA first expanded internationally when it established two franchises in Canada in 1995—one in Toronto and one in Vancouver. Outspoken Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has stated that he would like to see a team in Mexico, but this week Adam Silver put those rumors to rest. Silver stated that, “The next step before we start talking about a franchise in Mexico City is to bring more games here…Obviously it’s an incredible market with over 20 million people, the largest market in the world and, while we have no immediate plans to expand, one of the things that we look at, it’s whether expanding will be additive to the league as a whole and clearly coming to Mexico City, not just because the population of the city but as a gateway to the rest of Latin America could potentially be very important for the league.” While it may not be an immediate option, expect to see the NBA to move south of the border.
Vancouver is another city that was once home to an NBA team. The Vancouver Grizzlies were started in Canada at the same time as the Toronto Raptors in 1995, and the Grizzlies remained in Canada until 2001. They then moved to Memphis and kept their mascot where they have been known as the Memphis Grizzlies ever since. The owner of the Vancouver Canucks, The Aquilinis, are reportedly interested in owning a Vancouver NBA team should the league choose to expand in Canada once again. Vancouver is seen as a gateway to Asia in terms of expansion, but it appears that another Canadian team may be lower on the priority list until the league has geared itself up for larger international expansion. We can probably expect to see Mexico and Canada expansions a little farther out on the horizon.
Louisville, Kentucky is also reportedly on the NBA’s shortlist of expansion cities. While Kentucky boasts the Memphis Grizzlies, neighbor Tennessee is vying for the opportunity at their own team. The league has reportedly been looking to bring on two Western Conference teams in the expansion to allow them to move the Grizzlies into the Eastern Conference so another Eastern team may throw off that balance. Regardless, Louisville is another major city, and they love their sports so the league may take them into serious consideration.
- Las Vegas
Las Vegas has been making great strides to bring more sporting events to their city. MGM Resorts and Anschutz Entertainment Group recently partnered on building the T-Mobile Arena that is located just off the strip in Paradise, Nevada. The arena opened in April of 2016, and will be home to the Las Vegas Golden Knights—a professional hockey team who will make their debut in the 2017-2018 season. Las Vegas is the entertainment Capitol of the United States. They host major boxing and UFC events among the seemingly endless list of entertainment they have to offer so it only makes sense for them to be the home of professional sports teams. Even if they don’t attract a big home crowd following, they are sure to bring in plenty of revenue from the masses of national and international travelers who frequent the strip each year. Vegas also fits into the plan of bringing on two Western Conference teams. With Seattle being almost a shoe in, Vegas may be next on the list to allow Memphis to be absorbed into the Eastern Conference.
With teams making their debut as early as next season, we should start seeing decisions being made very soon. It’s certainly an exciting prospect to have more NBA teams on the horizon. More NBA teams means more NBA games which is sure to not disappoint fans all around the world.