Top 20 Worst Relocations in Major Sports
Relocation in sport is part of the business. So you've got an old arena, few fans or insurmountable debt. Why not move the team?
That's what happens in the major sports leagues in North America, and it happens often enough to annoy fans of struggling teams that their team could be next.
With the Seattle Thunder vying for the franchise's first title since the 1970s, I thought I'd make a Top 20 list to give some Sonics fans consolation. After all, the next best thing to getting your way is seeing other people fail worse than you.
20. Rockets Launch from San Diego
Yes, the Houston Rockets were initially set up in San Diego. San Diego held them for a mere four seasons from 67-71 and would lose another team in 1984 (the Clippers ). The Houston Rockets became one of the more consistent teams in the league and made three Finals appearance from 85-95, taking full advantage of Michael Jordan's first retirement by winning back to back titles in 1994 and 1995.
San Diego hasn't gotten a team back since 1984.
19. MLB Travels from St. Louis to Baltimore
Sure, St. Louis is a big baseball town with a pretty good team in the Cards. However, there was a time the city had two MLB teams, the other being the Browns. They would make their lone World Series appearance in 1944 and move to Baltimore in 1954. Since moving to Baltimore, the team has made six World Series Appearances, winning half of them—the first coming in 1966.
18. A Car Ride from Baltimore to D.C.
While many argue Baltimore and Washington are within the same "region," it's still an hour's drive, and whenever a team in Washington wins, it doesn't have a parade in Baltimore.
That said, Baltimore doesn't have an NBA team and hasn't had one since 1973, when, as the Bullets, the team transitioned to Washington. In their fifth season in the nation's capital, the Bullets would win the franchise's only NBA title. A year later, they would fail to repeat, losing in the Finals, and haven't competed for another title since. This should register low since the team hasn't been all that good in the last 25 years, but that 1978 title could have been Baltimore's.
17. San Antonio Dallas Spurs
Chaparral is a type of bird....apparently...
While the team stayed in the same state, the Spurs franchise moved from Dallas to San Antonio. They would not win their first NBA title until their 26th season in San Antonio, but the franchise has been one of the most consistent, making the playoffs all but four seasons in the NBA, including runs to the conference finals or better on 11 occasions and winning four titles to register a dynasty in the 2000s.
Meanwhile, the Dallas Mavericks have been good themselves, but offered many years of choking and only one title thus far.
16. The Jazz Goes to Utah
Have you ever wondered why the Utah Jazz are called the Jazz? Never made sense, did it?
New Orleans got its first team in 1974, but would lose it just five years later. While the Utah Jazz have yet to win a title, they would make back-to-back Finals and have been a perennial playoff team for near 30 years now.
Meanwhile, the Hornets have been overtaken by the league, and despite numerous playoff appearances, have little to show for it.
15. San Franciso loses a Champion
The Warriors were born in Philadelphia, then moved to San Francisco, where they lost two NBA Finals before moving to Oakland as the Golden State Warriors in 1971. It would only take the Warriors four seasons since leaving San Fran to win a title. A consolation for San Francisco would be the team being largely mediocre since.
14. The Jets Fly South
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To this day, the Phoenix Coyotes have yet to turn in a profit from a single season since moving to Glendale, Arizona. So it begs the question: Would the team have done worse if it stayed in Winnipeg?
The reason the Jets became the last Canadian team to go south of the border is because the stadium was simply too outdated, the big knock being the lack of luxury boxes and, of course, the Canadian dollar.
While in Phoenix, the former Jets have made the playoffs eight times, winning their first playoff series since the 80s this year. This season also saw the return of the Jets to Winnipeg via the Atlanta Thrashers, and although the city and its hockey fans are happy they got a hockey team after 14 years of waiting, that's still 14 years of no NHL team, meaning no NHL action and no NHL playoffs.
The new Jets may have a promising future, but the current Phoenix Coyotes are division champions and are the "real" Jets, though Shane Doan is the last remaining former Jet on the team. The big deal about this is that hockey has failed miserably in Glendale, and in hindsight, it makes no sense why the team wasn't moved back to Winnipeg about five to six years ago.
Who knows, after the NHL changed the rulebook and allowed subsidies to Canadian teams, would the Winnipeg Jets have been losing as much money as the Yotes? Probably not.
13. Hurricane Sweeps Through Hartford
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The Hartford Whalers didn't have much success in Connecticut, but they did have their fans. This was the last team to move until the Atlanta Thrashers, and the renamed Carolina Hurricanes would hoist the Cup in their eighth season and ninth year since moving.
12. Al Davis Moves a Champion to Los Angeles
This sucks for Oakland because the Raiders would win in only their second season in Los Angeles, and Oakland has only had one professional champion (the 1989 As) since. The Raiders had played out of Oakland for 22 seasons going back to their AFL days. They had won two titles in five years and then, bam.
11. Syracuse to the City of Brotherly Love
The Syracuse Nationals were one of the NBA's initial teams and earliest contenders, making the Finals three times with one victory in the NBA's first six seasons. Then they moved to Philadelphia and won two titles, their first coming four years after leaving Syracuse. They would make numerous playoff appearances.
Syracuse, meanwhile, has not gotten another team, largely due to insufficient population.
10. Story of the Kansas Athletics
The Oakland Athletics are most likely remembered as being from Oakland since their inception. This, however, is untrue. The team played in Philadelphia for 54 years and won five World Series titles.
However, most who were around in 1930 for the Athletics' last title in Phily, are dead. When the team moved to Kansas, there wasn't much winning, and after 12 years, the move to Oakland was made. Four seasons in, the Athletics would make the ALCS; a year later, they would begin their three-peat.
Since moving to Oakland, the Athletics have made it to the ALCS or better in 11 seasons, making six World Series appearances and winning four.
Kansas would get a team back in 1969 and had its own window of success. The Royals would make the playoffs seven of 10 seasons from 76-85 with two World Series appearances and one win. However, the franchise has been one of the worst in the league the last 18 seasons, having only one winning season.
9. Minneapolis Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers as we know them were born in 1960, when the team moved from Minnesota. The Lakers won four of the first five NBA Championship series. After moving to Los Angeles, the team would compete heavily but fail to claim the ultimate prize for many years.
From 1960 to 1971, the team made seven NBA Finals appearances, losing all of them. However, in 1972, the team would nab its first title in L.A. From 1980 until 1988, the team would win five of nine titles and continue to be a major contender with a three-peat from 00-02 and back-to-back titles most recently in 2009 and 2010.
The Timberwolves, which entered Minnesota in 1990, have won two playoff series in their history.
8. MLB Leaves Washington
Washington had the MLB long before the days of the Nationals. The team moved to Minnesota and became the Twins we know today. They would win the AL pennant and make a World Series appearance just five years after leaving Washington.
Twenty-two years later, the Twins would hoist their first World Series in Minnesota. Meanwhile, Washington would have to wait until the Expos to get a team, and the Nationals have been crud ever since.
7. Houston Oilers Drill in Tennessee
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The Houston Oilers fell to obscurity after the departure of Warren Moon. After Bud Adams announced the team would be moving to Nashville in 1996, attendance quickly declined, and the team moved in 1997 ahead of schedule.
In their third season in Nashville, the renamed Titans would make their first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history, losing by a yard. Meanwhile, football fans in Houston would get a team back just six seasons after the Oilers' departure, but the Texans would need 10 seasons before making their first playoff appearance.
6. Bye-Bye, Milwaukee
The Atlanta Braves were initially born in Milwaukee, well, technically Boston. The Boston Braves won the 1914 World Series, while the Milwaukee Braves would win the 1957 World Series.
The move to Atlanta occurred in 1966. The Brewers would come into town from Seattle in 1970. Unfortunately, the Brewers have only made one World Series and lost it. They also made an NLCS appearance just two years ago.
The Braves, meanwhile, have appeared in five World Series, and while they've only won one of those, the Braves have won 16 division titles and made another playoff appearance as a wild card, in short, much more winning than the Brewers.
5. The Cleveland Browns' Former Players Make-Up Much of the 2000 Champion Ravens
So because I like to, I'll play the game. The Cleveland Browns organization ceased football operations for three seasons between 1996-1998. Many of their former players moved on as a part of the Baltimore Ravens organization.
In 2000, just five years removed from wearing Cleveland Brown uniforms, the players would hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
4. Minnesota South Stars
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The state of Minnesota really deserved better than this. A rabid hockey base screwed by the owner. The Minnesota North Stars made two Stanley Cup Finals appearances and never lost fan support, but moved in 1993 way south to Dallas.
Keeping the Stars name, the team would win its only Stanley Cup Championship in 1999, just six years after leaving Minnesota. Some of the players became part of the San Jose Sharks, but I doubt Minny fans are too upset they lost out on that.
Thankfully, Minnesota hockey fans didn't have to wait long. Although the Wild did make a West finals appearance and haven't been too bad, the Dallas Stars reign from 98-00 must sting, if even a little.
3. Dodgers Go West
The Brooklyn Dodgers moved as a result of an expanding league due to the ease of air travel. As well, the Dodgers moved because their owner could not come to terms with the mayor, who was unwilling to make the proper concessions in 1958.
In Los Angeles, the Dodgers would win a World Series title in only their second season on the West Coast. Perhaps even worse, the Dodgers continued to win titles, four more in the City of Angels.
Obviously, the Brooklyn region has had the Yankees to enjoy for decades and decades; however, in those times, it wasn't the same not having a team in Brooklyn.
2. Los Angeles Gets Twice Bitten
So maybe it's karma for the Lakers and Dodgers, but Los Angeles lost both of its NFL teams in the same offseason. One team, the Raiders, did not move too far, going back to Oakland after 13 seasons. The other, the Rams, would move all the way to St. Louis after calling Los Angeles home for nearly 50 years.
The Raiders would make a forgettable trip to the Super Bowl in 2002, while the Rams would shortly become the Greatest Show on Turf and make two appearance after in 1999 and 2001, winning a title in 1999.
Los Angeles still waits to get back into the NFL after soon to be 18 seasons of no pro football.
1. Denver Steals the Nords, and Quebec's Championship
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To this day, much of Canada will agree the Nordiques fanbase was robbed in 1996. Due to a weak Canadian dollar, aging stadium and Gary Bettman, the team moved to Denver. A year after leading the Eastern Conference in points, the team was renamed the Colorado Avalanche and proceeded to win the Stanley Cup its first season, followed by another five years later.
The core group of the team was built as part of Quebec's struggling seasons from 1990-92, when the team got the first-overall pick three years in a row, including their last, which was Eric Lindros and who was traded for a ransom. The team did manage to acquire Patrick Roy after the move was made and probably wouldn't have happened if the franchise stayed in Quebec, but the team itself was very strong and just beginning their era of contention.
Quebec City has recently begun building a new stadium to get a team back.