May 19, 2024

Trend Alert: Team Relocations in North American Sports

The landscape of North American sports is undergoing a significant transformation, marked by a notable increase in team relocations over the past decade. Owners across various leagues are leveraging relocation to bolster their franchises, often in tandem with the construction of state-of-the-art venues. Since 2016, five major teams have relocated, and two more are currently in process. These moves signify more than shifts in geographical location; they are strategies to maximize revenue streams, enhance fan engagement, and solidify longevity in a competitive sports market. Among these, the Oakland Athletics are currently transitioning to Las Vegas, and the Arizona Coyotes are working on a move to Salt Lake City.

team relocations

The Athletics

The impending relocation of the Oakland Athletics marks the end of an era as they leave their long-time home at the Oakland Coliseum. The Coliseum's outdated facilities no longer meet the needs of modern sports entertainment, prompting the Athletics to seek a new venue. Additionally, they could not agree on a lease extension with the Coliseum. Preparing for their move to Las Vegas in 2028, the team plans to temporarily play at Sutter Health Park in West Sacramento for the next three seasons, beginning in 2025.

The Athletics' future home in Las Vegas promises to revolutionize the fan experience with cutting-edge amenities. Set on the site of the Tropicana hotel, the new stadium will seat 33,000 people and feature improved sight lines with a tiered-seating system. Highlights include a fixed roof with overlapping layers, the world's largest cable-net glass window behind the outfield, and an 18,000-square-foot jumbotron—the biggest in the league. The venue will also address logistical concerns with 2,500 onsite parking spots, making it easy for fans to attend games. This ambitious project highlights the Athletics' dedication to creating a top-notch sports environment and marks a new chapter in the team's history.

The Athletics aren’t the only professional sports franchise to leave Oakland. In 2020, the Raiders also made the transition to Las Vegas, where they now play in the domed Allegiant Stadium. This move was driven by the desire for a more modern facility and the opportunity to tap into the lucrative Las Vegas market. Additionally, the Golden State Warriors, who played their home games in Oakland for several decades, relocated to San Francisco in 2019. They now play in the brand new Chase Center, an arena designed to enhance the fan experience and provide greater revenue opportunities. These moves reflect a broader trend among sports franchises seeking to upgrade their facilities and capitalize on new markets.

team relocations

The Coyotes

The Arizona Coyotes are at a crossroads as they prepare to leave their temporary home at the 5,000-seat Mullett Arena, which they share with the Arizona State Sun Devils hockey team. The NHL and the players' association have raised concerns about staying in this venue for a third season. In response, team owner Alex Meruelo began exploring new options. A major development followed when the NHL Board of Governors unanimously approved the sale of the Coyotes for $1.2 billion to Ryan and Ashley Smith, owners of the Utah Jazz. This sale paves the way for the team's relocation to Salt Lake City, where they plan to temporarily play at the Delta Center, home of the Jazz.

Locals are big fans of the impending move, with Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall considering it a transformative moment for the city's identity and future. With a shared vision of community integration and enhanced opportunities for residents and visitors alike, the Coyotes' relocation represents not only a strategic maneuver for the franchise but also a catalyst for growth and revitalization within Salt Lake City's downtown core.

team relocations

Looking Ahead: Sports Relocation Trends

Beyond these specific cases, the broader landscape of North American sports has witnessed several high-profile relocations in recent years. These relocations are often due to old stadiums, changing local populations, and the lure of more money. Team owners aim to set up their franchises for long-term success in a competitive sports market. A recent example is the Kansas City Chiefs, who may leave Jackson County after voters turned down an $800 million request for stadium upgrades. With an aging stadium and the need for updates, the Chiefs may leverage the threat of moving as a way to secure funding. Looking ahead, we can expect to see similar relocation bids arise as negotiations heat up between sports franchises, local governments, and communities over stadium financing and improvements.

Sources:

  1. https://athlonsports.com/mlb/pro-sports-franchise-relocation-every-pro-team-to-move-since-2000
  2. https://bleacherreport.com/articles/10111821-athletics-unveil-updated-renderings-of-planned-las-vegas-stadium-ahead-of-relocation
  3. https://apnews.com/article/arizona-coyotes-salt-lake-city-relocation-f847c9206632db191463128b01347857
  4. https://www.kron4.com/mlb/as/as-fail-to-reach-deal-with-city-of-oakland-over-coliseum-future/

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