|ESPN.com: Sports Business||[Print without images]|
|Even with its aging stadiums like the Rose Bowl, Los Angeles remains an attractive option for teams looking to leverage new lease deals.|
A look at the five cities most likely to land a new major-league sports team:
The nation's capital, without a Major League Baseball team since the Washington Senators moved to Texas after the 1971 season, is a possible destination for the Montreal Expos. But before the city has a chance, the league, which now owns the team, has to deal with the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) lawsuit filed by the Expos' former minority owners. Another issue: Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos could put up a fight over territorial rights.
The nation's No. 2 television market, which has been without an NFL team since 1995 when the Rams left for St. Louis and the Raiders for Oakland, is the most likely destination for the next NFL team. As of now, the league isn't ready to expand again and L.A. continues to serve as great leverage for cities that want sweetheart deals from their current cities. If the league really wants to make the move happen, despite the multitude of plans by individual stadiums and the tough political environment, L.A. could have a team in the next five years.
The city is clearly focused on getting an NBA team back, but critics have said that the $231 million current financing plan for a new arena is not enough to lure a new team. Given the NBA's apparent interest after the Hornets moved out, the city is well in the race when the league decides to expand to 30 teams.
Although Microsoft mogul Paul Allen reportedly is not interested in being an owner, the most populous city (television market: 23) without a Major League Baseball team -- is competing with Washington, D.C., for the Montreal Expos. The Triple-A Portland Beavers play at PGE Park, which can be expanded to 21,000 seats. The state legislature never voted on funding for a major-league ballpark last year.
The fastest growing city in the country has seen its population grow by a factor of 30 since 1940. But with the gambling industry in town, and especially with in-state events now on the board, it is unlike that a sports league would allow a team to move to Sin City. The NBA is nervous enough with Sacramento Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof owning The Palms, a $265 million, 42-story resort in town.
|“||It's what the janitor, valet parker, lawyer and venture capitalist can all talk about when they are in an elevator together. Very few things in society could bring people together like a local sports team can. ”|
|— Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani on the psychological benefits of having a sports team|
|Restricting the amount of franchises has served sports owners well in leveraging sweetheart deals, but that balance has been upset in the NHL because of the number of teams that are currently on the market. At least three teams -- the Dallas Stars, Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks -- are either selling or rumored to be looking for a new owner. With the Collective Bargaining Agreement coming to an end in 2004, few cities and perhaps fewer potential owners would be interested in taking on the burden of a team with the loom of a work stoppage. Tom Hicks, who owns both the Stars and Texas Rangers, has put his hockey team on the block, though major interest in the team has not emerged as yet. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has said he doesn't want the team, and computer magnate and Texas resident Michael Dell, who was recently named the 11th richest American by Forbes Magazine, has no interest either. "Michael is not buying a sports team," Dell spokesperson Anne Miano said. -- Darren Rovell|