NBA to expand to Seattle or Las Vegas or St Louis
The NBA and the NBAPA will be meeting in very soon to work out a new Collective Bargaining Agreement or CBA, and all indications is that the previous talks have gone very well and there is a high likelihood that the league and the players will work something out to prevent another lockout.
The issue at hand is the new TV contracts which just came into effect this season and caused the massively inflated contracts we seen handed out over the summer. The new TV deals also have a clause for expansion and increased money if the NBA does expand. This clause will likely lead to the NBA adding at least a couple more teams before 2025.
Before the NBA expands it needs to thoroughly look at the problems it already has with teams and location and address them. For the most part the NBA is stable in that it does not have teams actively searching for new arenas and the league has few arena's older than 30 years old. The league oldest arena is Oracle Arena which is home to the Golden State Warriors, which was built in 1966. Normally an arena this old would be cause for concern, but the Warriors are currently in the process of building a new arena which is slated to open in 2019. The next oldest arena is New York's Madison Square Garden, built in 1968, but the Garden has undergone numerous renovations making it on par with some of the best arena's in the United States.
The rest of the leagues arena's are under 30 years old, though there are several which are approaching the 30 year mark within the decade. But for the most part these arena's have undergone major renovations in the past few years or will be undergoing massive renovations soon.
The league previously had two unstable locations in Milwaukee and Sacramento but new arenas are in the process of being built for openings in 2016 and 2017.
This stability is something that will allow the NBA to effectively expand and not ruin a potential market for an already established team because none of the leagues 30 teams are likely to relocate in the next 10-15 years.
So what locations will the NBA expand too? The obvious answer for most NBA fans is going to be Seattle, Washington. Seattle which hosted the Sonics from 1967 until 2007. A new NBA team in Seattle would likely take the old Sonics history and the Thunder would than be counted as an expansion team starting in 2008. This is much like what has happened with the Hornets and Pelicans.
Other cities in consideration are Las Vegas, St Louis, Kansas City, Louisville, Vancouver and possibly Buffalo. Each city gives a unique addition to the NBA but also has its unique problems.
Las Vegas is likely the next front runner behind Seattle due to the newly constructed T-Mobile Arena and the fact that the NHL has expanded there and the Raiders of the NFL are likely moving there in a few years as well. The problem for Vegas is the gambling. The NBA has a nasty history involving betting scandals and even though the big ones such as the one that cost the league the Indianapolis Olympians franchise are over a half century old, the league cannot overlook the more recent Tim Donaghy scandal.
St Louis which has been home to two previous NBA franchises, the Bombers and the Hawks, would be a good location for a team because it allows the league to balance out the conferences if an expansion team is given to Seattle.
Kansas City has a newer arena and that would be a huge draw, but the city is smaller and probably too westerly located for the NBA. The city however, did have an NBA team in the 1970s when the Kings played there before moving to Sacramento.
Louisville, like St Louis, is in a good location to balance the conferences, but it is too close to other already existing NBA cities.
Vancouver, who had the Grizzlies for a few years in the 1990s, would only get an expansion team if Seattle does not, and that probably is not going to happen.
Buffalo also is a long shot to land an NBA team. Buffalo had the Braves in the 1970s before they moved to California and became the Clippers, but the city has had economic struggles for decades and evident by the struggles of the Bills and Sabres it may not be a desirable place for players.
Mexico City has been mentioned a few times, but the NBA is not going to go there because of the unstable political climate and the exchange rate.
Other cities like Tampa, Boise, and Omaha are just too small to have an NBA team, and cities like Baltimore, Providence and Pittsburgh are too close to other already existing NBA markets to warrant an NBA franchise.
One interesting thing of note is that the NBA does like to put teams back into failed markets. The NBA has 12 teams (Washington, Toronto, Minnesota, Cleveland, Detroit, Indiana, Denver, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Charlotte, New Orleans, Chicago) that are currently in markets where previous NBA teams have failed. Two other cities, San Diego and St Louis, have lost NBA teams only to get another NBA team and lose that team as well.
Of cities who have lost an NBA team the league has only not attempted to put new teams in 13 of them; Seattle, Vancouver, Anderson, Sheboygan, Tri-cities, Waterloo, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Rochester, Syracuse, Fort Wayne, Providence and Pittsburgh. Many of those cities currently have NBA teams in their vicinity; such as Fort Wayne and Anderson being very close to Indianapolis.
The NBA is only likely to add two new teams before 2025, and as pointed out Seattle has the upper hand to get one of these two teams. Te other city is likely going to be St Louis just to balance the conferences. Though, the NBA could always move Memphis and New Orleans to the eastern conference and expand to Las Vegas.