Posts Tagged ‘NBA Expansion’

Now that major renovations to Seattle’s KeyArena have been approved, is the city prepared for the return of an NBA franchise?

Seattle city council recently voted 7-1 in favor of a proposal for a $600-million redevelopment of KeyArena, in the hopes of attracting another major sports franchise. It’s a step in the right direction in the process for the NBA to bring basketball back to Seattle.

Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke is heavily invested in the city, understanding that the talk of a Seattle-based franchise has been a hot topic since the NBA left Seattle for Oklahoma City. Leiweke has been around sports franchises for a long time and has a realistic, but optimistic, outlook on the matter.

“I’ve been through this,” Leiweke told reporters, according to Yahoo Sports Chris Mannix. “I’ve seen teams ripped out of communities. It’s not a pretty thing to go through. I feel the pain, and we’ve been dealing with Sonics Rising and the Sonic community, and we understand. Lots of people have preferences about the NHL compared to the NBA. Whichever one comes first, if we do a great job with them, the other one will come.”

Leiweke uttering “the other one will come” may give a feeling of hope for basketball fans in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan went as far as to tease Seattleite’s during the agreement signing, wearing a Seattle SuperSonics T-shirt under her blazer.

With the NHL carrying 31 franchises and aiming for an even number, it’s likely they’ll get first dibs. But it’s clear Leiweke won’t stop there.

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The NBA is reportedly set to announce the opening of a new development academy in Mexico City next month, according to a report by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.

“NBA Academy Latin America” will be focused on youth development for local talent and could open the door to a G-League team or even NBA expansion down the road.

The NBA currently has six academies located in China, India, Australia, and Senegal. The elite training centers are viewed as a critical opportunity to increase the league’s profile and that of the sport as a whole in countries which lack the proper infrastructure for athlete development of homegrown talent.

Few North American metropolises can rival Mexico City’s sheer population. If basketball can begin to steal some of the spotlight from traditionally popular sports in Mexico, like soccer and baseball, it stands to reason the league would look to tap into that market on a permanent basis.

“In terms of a franchise here in Mexico City, it is something to look at,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said last January. “Obviously, it’s an incredible market with over 20 million people, the largest market in North America 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.”

Since the 2014-15, the NBA has played four regular-season games in Mexico City. Next month, the Brooklyn Nets will play two games south of the border, taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder on Dec. 7 and the Miami Heat on Dec. 9.

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Fourteen of the NBA’s 30 franchises lost money last season before receiving revenue-sharing cash from the league, and nine of those teams still ended up in the red after that, according to confidential financial records obtained by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Zach Lowe.

The report appears to confirm suspicions that despite record income from national television contracts, some teams are having trouble turning a profit – and not just in small markets.

The nine franchises to reportedly come out in the red, by the league’s accounting, after revenue sharing are: the Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Memphis Grizzlies, Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic, San Antonio Spurs, and Washington Wizards.

The Spurs and Cavaliers may raise eyebrows given their combined runs of success, but it was already widely reported the Cavs lost $40 million during their 2015-16 championship season – due in part to a $54-million luxury tax bill.

At the end of the day, small cities such as Memphis and Milwaukee cannot compare to markets like Los Angeles. However, Brooklyn is part of New York City, and Washington and Atlanta rank as the nation’s seventh- and 10th-largest media markets, respectively.

At least one owner brought up the idea of expansion as a way to increase team income, the report states. An expansion fee – likely over $1 billion per team – would be divvied equally among NBA owners and not subject to the 50-50 basketball-related income split with players under the collective bargaining agreement.

Commissioner Adam Silver is on record as saying expansion is not a priority, although markets such as Seattle may be soon waiting in the wings for a new team. Relocating less profitable franchises is another option, something a handful of richer owners have suggested, according to Windhorst and Lowe.

The chasm between the NBA’s most profitable and weaker franchises will be discussed at the league’s next Board of Governors meeting at the end of September, sources told ESPN.

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Seattle could someday have an NBA team again.

In a Players’ Tribune interview with Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard C.J. McCollum last week, commissioner Adam Silver said it’s possible the league will bring a franchise back to the city, but he doesn’t know when.

“I think it’s just a question of when the right time is to seriously start thinking about expansion,” said Silver.

“I don’t want to put a precise timeline on it, but it’s inevitable at some point that we’ll start looking at the growth of franchises. That’s always been the case in this league, and Seattle will no doubt be on a short list of cities we’ll look at,” he added.

The Seattle SuperSonics entered the league in 1967-68 and captured an NBA championship in 1979. The club relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008 and became the Thunder.

Several Sonics greats have been strong proponents of the city regaining a team. Gary Payton said last year that Seattle “deserves” an NBA team and he’d be interested in becoming an owner, while Ray Allen echoed those sentiments in May.

“I still can’t believe that there is no basketball in Seattle,” he wrote in a post on Instagram. “This city is too great not to have a hoops squad. Come on everybody we need to rally and bring the NBA back to Seattle.”

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International expansion may not be in the NBA’s immediate plans, but it’s not unrealistic to believe that a franchise could end up in Mexico City down the road.

While commissioner Adam Silver made it clear that a move wouldn’t happen in the next few years, he did say the league is looking into adding a team further south.

“Mexico City, in terms of international markets, is one we’re looking more closely at,” Silver said Friday at MIT’s Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, according to Liz Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The NBA has hosted five regular-season contests in Mexico City since the 1997-98 season, with the Phoenix Suns playing back-to-back games there earlier this year.

Silver also previously stated that he’s entertained the idea of organizing a midseason tournament in Mexico City, in hopes of increasing the NBA’s popularity in North America’s most populous city.

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SEATTLE – Investor Chris Hansen stressed patience and optimism Thursday in his ongoing effort to build an arena to house a possible NBA or NHL franchise in Seattle’s stadium district.

Hansen’s interview with The Associated Press represented his first public comments in nearly two years about the efforts. Hansen acknowledged his investment group was surprised by the City Council’s decision last May to deny a proposed street closure that would have moved the project forward with some public investment.

Hansen said his group re-evaluated the situation after the vote and decided to turn the project into a privately financed facility. Hansen said there would be other investors in addition to the five made public so far – including Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

The new proposal still requires the same street closure that was denied a year ago.

Louisville v North Carolina

A local councillor in Louisville says he is working on a resolution to bring an NBA franchise to the Kentucky city.

“Now is the time,” Dan Johnson said, according to WDRB-TV. The official had tweeted on Tuesday that he was “working on getting the NBA” to come to town.

Expansion talk from anywhere except the NBA itself should be taken with a grain of salt. The league has been on record as saying it is not currently in expansion mode, although it’s predictable they would do due diligence by keeping an eye on markets like Seattle and Las Vegas.

Louisville, a college basketball hotbed that is home to the Cardinals, is a fairly new entry into the pro sports expansion conversation. The city ranks 30th in the United States in population and 49th by television market, but has an 11-year-old, 22,000-seat arena, the KFC Yum! Center.