With the unprecedented success of the Las Vegas Knights in the NHL, expansion teams are the talk of the town. Seattle fans yearn to have an NBA team once again. Losing a potential Supersonic dynasty with Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook was absolutely heartbreaking for Emerald City.
From 2002-2008, Seattle persistently ranked lower than 20th in average home fan attendance, per ESPN. By 2008 (their last season) they hit rock bottom at 28th in fan attendance, spurring a move to Oklahoma City and a complete overhaul of the team’s branding, claiming the moniker Thunder.
After failing to find public funding to construct a new arena in the Seattle area, the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City before the 2008–09 season. Clay Bennett, chairman of the organization, moved the Sonics to Oklahoma City after failing to get $500 million in public funding to construct a state-of-the-art arena in the suburbs. He ultimately settled with the city of Seattle for $45 million to pay off the team’s subsisting KeyArena lease before the original 2010 expiration.
As a former home to the Royals, Kansas City is an enticing city as well. Unfortunately the Royals nickname is already in use by the city’s baseball team, so an original idea will be evoked.
Originally located in Cincinnati, the Royals organization moved to Kansas City in 1972. Alas, there are no records of fan attendance from that time.
To compare, the Kansas City Chiefs have placed in the top 9 of average home fan attendance from 2013-2017. Thus, Kansas City’s population will certainly welcome with open arms an NBA team.
Jarrett Sutton of Slam Magazine reported that an NBA executive said, “it’s just a matter of time” before Kansas City becomes an NBA team again. “Seattle and KC to me are most valuable markets for league expansion when it makes sense.” Last month, Seattle announced plans for a $564 million renovation of Key Arena, warming the seats for prospective NBA fans.
The NBA commissioner seems intent on expanding the NBA to 32 teams. “I think it’s just a question of when the right time is to seriously start thinking about expansion,” Silver stated. “I don’t want to put a precise timeline on it, but it’s inevitable at some point we’ll start looking at growth of franchises,” he concluded.
Seattle and Kansas City would be great places to start.