Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, May 17, 2021

Just for fun, here’s a brief league-by-league rundown of the last time (to date) that franchises in the National Hockey League, National Football League, Major League Baseball, and the National Basketball Association have left one city/market in favor of another:

NBA - 2008: The SuperSonics leave Seattle in July and become the Oklahoma City Thunder

MLB - 2005: The Expos decamp from Montreal in Autumn 2004 and begin the next season as the Washington Nationals

NHL - 1997: The Whalers officially pull out of Hartford in May and commence the 1997-98 season in Raleigh as the Carolina Hurricanes

NFL - 1997: The Oilers finalize their departure from Houston at the end of the 1996 season and begin the 1997 season in Nashville Memphis as the Tennessee Oilers (and settle into Nashville the season after that, and become the Tennessee Titans)

There’s plenty of context behind each of these moves. I won’t go into detail, but highlights include: OKC hosting the Hurricane Katrina-displaced New Orleans Hornets prior to the Sonics arriving; the Expos being bought out by MLB, considered for franchise contraction, and split-timed between Montreal and Puerto Rico prior to landing in DC; and a spate of expansions/relocations encompassing Los Angeles, Winnipeg, Cleveland, and Jacksonville (among other cities) in hockey and football. Sports leagues don’t function in a vacuum, so all those background circumstances led to the franchise shuffles.

Also note that I didn’t bother to count situations where teams moved into new arenas that remained in their existing market, but just happened to be in a new ZIP code. So, for instance, the New Jersey Devils move in 2007 from East Rutherford to Newark doesn’t apply, as they remained in essentially the same area (northern New Jersey).

And yes, I compile this list with full knowledge that the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes could move to Hamilton, Ontario soon. Although the way that’s shaking out, it doesn’t look too likely that the move will come off; so this post should remain up-to-date for at least another year.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/17/2009 05:10 PM
Category: Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey, SportsBiz
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2 Feedbacks »
  1. Good list, with one minor asterisk. The Oilers technically began (and ended) the 1997 season in Memphis.

    Comment by trumwill — 05/19/2009 @ 12:35 AM

  2. Aha, good catch, thanks. I should have remembered that; I kept thinking there was something amiss with that NFL entry. Now corrected.

    Comment by CT — 05/19/2009 @ 10:27 AM

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