kimball

Failed Franchise Expansion & Relocations

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On 5/14/2018 at 11:34 PM, the admiral said:

Hamilton would be fine. We're not talking Maple Leafs levels here, but they'd do fine, especially on rights/carriage fees. Same with Hartford.

 

Hamilton would be fine but would Buffalo? 

Having spent almost a year living in Hamilton now, driving around I see a lot of Sabres gear and I've met a lot of people who are Sabres fans. Mostly due to the fact that "it's less of a pain to get to Buffalo than Toronto" and "Tickets are cheaper".

 

While I disagree with the first comment (yes, traffic to Toronto can suck hard but come on, crossing the border is not easier than sitting in traffic. Also, take the train....but that's beside the point) I get the feeling that a team in Hamilton would take a chunk (not sure what size, is it enough to be damaging or not?) of ticket sales away from the Sabres. 

 

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Pats move to Hartford

Chicago Cardinals move to Minneapolis or Buffalo

Dallas Texans move to New Orleans (became KC Chiefs)

Jets to Memphis, Raiders to Portland, Paul Brown's team in Seattle – all changes commissioner Roselle wanted as part of the merger. Brown insisted on Cincinnati.

Original AFL teams in Seattle, Minneapolis

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On 5/9/2018 at 3:33 PM, Mac the Knife said:

The logo's legit.  I remember it from when they had their moment of almost-fame.

Ah, I blame my lack of research in this area for my judgement rush, and my association of that font/ones like it with a different time period. I’m no @slapshot when it comes to fonts.

 

55 minutes ago, Gothamite said:

And then Cardinals owner Fred Saigh was indicted for tax evasion.  He feared the other National League owners would force him out, so he decided to jump while he could.  He fielded offers from Houston (where the Cards had a Texas League affiliate), and Milwaukee.  Milwaukee was the clear favorite, since the city had a brand new major league-ready County Stadium already under construction.  

 

 

The Houston/Milwaukee Cardinals is a fascinating swap, from several perspectives.

 

Would a 1956/57-style redesign have happened (cursive replacing rounded slab-serif wordmarks, with the birds-on-bat returning in 1957), and would the birds-on-bat survive to the present day?

 

Of course, the rivalry with the Cubs would have survived (Central division and all that), growing stronger with a move to Milwaukee. 

 

It also poses an interesting ethnographic point. Does the whole “BFiB” aura form around the perennial dumpster fire known as the St. Louis Browns? How much of that is marketing, and how much of it is St. Louis/Missouri on its own?

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30 minutes ago, mr.negative15 said:

Hamilton would be fine but would Buffalo? 

 

Yeah, Buffalo doesn't need Hamilton. They have almost all of upstate New York and northwest Pennsylvania to market to. Let them share Niagara with the Leafs and Tigers, but they don't need Hamilton. I don't know what the over-the-border TV situation is with MSG and Bell now, but when they did finally make a deal to air Sabres games in the Southern Ontario portion of their 50-mile radius, I don't think they even reached Hamilton, just Niagara.

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1 hour ago, Gothamite said:

And then Cardinals owner Fred Saigh was indicted for tax evasion.  He feared the other National League owners would force him out, so he decided to jump while he could.  He fielded offers from Houston (where the Cards had a Texas League affiliate), and Milwaukee.  Milwaukee was the clear favorite, since the city had a brand new major league-ready County Stadium already under construction.

 

Fred Saigh was more than indicted for tax evasion. He pleaded nolo contendere to two counts of the charge in January of 1953 and ended up serving nearly six months of a 15-month prison sentence at a federal penitentiary in Indiana before being paroled for good behavior. It was the "no contest" plea that truly gave Commissioner Ford Frick and Saigh's fellow National League owners the moral leverage they needed to force Saigh to sell the Cardinals.

As for Milwaukee being the clear favorite over Houston to land the Redbirds in time for the 1954 National League season, the argument can be made that quite the opposite was true. While the major league-caliber County Stadium was under construction in Milwaukee at the time, Boston Braves owner Lou Perini controlled the big league territorial rights to the Milwaukee market, as the city was home to the Braves' AAA farm team in the American Association from 1947 through 1952. That's why Perini was able to pull the trigger so quickly on the Braves' relocation from Boston to Milwaukee in time for the 1953 National League season. While it was an open question as to whether Houston's Buffalo Stadium could be brought up to major league standards in time to play host to the relocated Cardinals, it can be argued that the Texas city would have had the inside-track to obtaining the Redbirds, as the big-league team's AA affiliate at the time - the Houston Buffaloes - gave the Cards organization control of Houston's big league rights.

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6 minutes ago, SFGiants58 said:

It also poses an interesting ethnographic point. Does the whole “BFiB” aura form around the perennial dumpster fire known as the St. Louis Browns? How much of that is marketing, and how much of it is St. Louis/Missouri on its own?

 

95% marketing, 5% weird St. Louis civic pride and insularity. I mean, the Predators have turned their fans into the same self-satisfied, standing-ovation-giving pseudo-Boy Scouts by repeatedly telling them how good they are. It's nothing the Reds couldn't have pulled off in the '90s if they had chosen to market with "you're so good and smart" instead of "nobody can even count to six million."

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18 minutes ago, Brian in Boston said:

Fred Saigh was more than indicted for tax evasion. He pleaded nolo contendere to two counts of the charge in January of 1953 and ended up serving nearly six months of a 15-month prison sentence at a federal penitentiary in Indiana before being paroled for good behavior. It was the "no contest" plea that truly gave Commissioner Ford Frick and Saigh's fellow National League owners the moral leverage they needed to force Saigh to sell the Cardinals.

 

Of course.  I didn't mean to imply that the indictment was the end of the story.  But it was the inciting incident, the lit match that started a chain of events culminating in the sale of the Cardinals.

 

Saigh was guilty, and he knew it.  The only reason he faced a mere two counts was that the statute of limitations had expired on many of the false returns he filed.  Once he was indicted, he knew his time in the National League was up.

 

18 minutes ago, Brian in Boston said:

As for Milwaukee being the clear favorite over Houston to land the Redbirds in time for the 1954 National League season, the argument can be made that quite the opposite was true. While the major league-caliber County Stadium was under construction in Milwaukee at the time, Boston Braves owner Lou Perini controlled the big league territorial rights to the Milwaukee market, as the city was home to the Braves' AAA farm team in the American Association from 1947 through 1952. That's why Perini was able to pull the trigger so quickly on the Braves' relocation from Boston to Milwaukee in time for the 1953 National League season. While it was an open question as to whether Houston's Buffalo Stadium could be brought up to major league standards in time to play host to the relocated Cardinals, it can be argued that the Texas city would have had the inside-track to obtaining the Redbirds, as the big-league team's AA affiliate at the time - the Houston Buffaloes - gave the Cards organization control of Houston's big league rights.

 

Milwaukee was the clear favorite because they already had negotiations.  Saigh and Miller had been talking for months, and had already settled on a price.  Houston's talks never got that far.  And it was 1953, not 1954.

 

It is certainly true that the Braves could have made the move difficult.  But it's hard to say that Perini could have stopped it, especially if the city fathers had gotten behind the deal.   And make no mistake, Fred Miller was popular, rich, and politically connected.  If an out-of-town owner had prevented Miller from bringing big-league ball to Milwaukee, the Brewers would have been finished in the Cream City.  And with them Perini's valuable AAA property.  The County Stadium lease let the county evict the Brewers with very little notice in the event a major league club wanted in.  Any major league club.

 

In fact, Perini had already opened preliminary negotiations to buy the San Francisco Seals, to replace Milwaukee as his AAA affiliate.  He wasn't so confident in being able to prevent the Cards from moving to Milwaukee.

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3 hours ago, NYC Cosmos said:

Chicago Cardinals move to Minneapolis or Buffalo

 

Also, in 1959, Lamar Hunt met with Violet Wolfner. He tried to get the majority share in the Cardinals so he could move them to Dallas. However, they wouldn't budge.

 

She did tell him one thing, though: She said that reps of several other cities met with her to buy and move the Cardinals. That was the genesis of the American Football League.

 

If Hunt would have been able to move the Cards to Dallas, history would have been different.

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1 hour ago, DnBronc said:

 

Also, in 1959, Lamar Hunt met with Violet Wolfner. He tried to get the majority share in the Cardinals so he could move them to Dallas. However, they wouldn't budge.

 

She did tell him one thing, though: She said that reps of several other cities met with her to buy and move the Cardinals. That was the genesis of the American Football League.

 

If Hunt would have been able to move the Cards to Dallas, history would have been different.

And Bud Adams wanted the Cardinals or an expansion team for Houston. The NFL gave Max Winter the Vikings franchise so he pulled out of the AFL. Interesting side note. In 1966 the AFL wanted either Philadelphia or Atlanta for the next team and of course the NFL beat them to Atlanta. Philadelphia went nowhere and Joe Robbie was contacted about a team and he pulled in actor Danny Thomas. Because Thomas, as well as others, were Miami royalty, Miami was chosen. And yes, in 1963, Lamar Hunt was considering New Orleans.

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Oh here is a good one. When the WFL folded, Birmingham and Memphis both applied to the NFL for expansion franchises to be the 29th and 30th teams the NFL. They had a pretty good argument. Ownership and good rosters in place....strong brand name...good fan base. Seattle and Tampa Bay had already been named. 

 

In hindsight, I think this would have been better for the league.

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56 minutes ago, NYC Cosmos said:

Oh here is a good one. When the WFL folded, Birmingham and Memphis both applied to the NFL for expansion franchises to be the 29th and 30th teams the NFL. They had a pretty good argument. Ownership and good rosters in place....strong brand name...good fan base. Seattle and Tampa Bay had already been named. 

 

In hindsight, I think this would have been better for the league.

 

Birmingham would've moved within 20 years. It isn't a major-league market now, and it sure as hell wasn't back in the '70s. Where did people get this idea Birmingham can support an NFL team?

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Memphis (i.e., John Bassett) actually sued to try and get into the NFL.  Memphis Grizzlies v. NFL.  He lost.

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1 hour ago, NYC Cosmos said:

Oh here is a good one. When the WFL folded, Birmingham and Memphis both applied to the NFL for expansion franchises to be the 29th and 30th teams the NFL. They had a pretty good argument. Ownership and good rosters in place....strong brand name...good fan base. Seattle and Tampa Bay had already been named. 

 

In hindsight, I think this would have been better for the league.

 

I don't think the NFL wanted to expand to 30 at that time. However, it's too bad that they didn't wait for a few years before announcing expansion. Seattle would have been a slam dunk, but I wonder if Memphis would have been a better market than Tampa (I hear that the TB area isn't the greatest pro sports market).

 

Speaking of Memphis, I found this thread that talks about Memphis and their history of trying to get an NFL team:

 

https://csnbbs.com/thread-643500.html

 

One commenter claims that the NFL was all ready to expand into Memphis and Phoenix (Thomas Stoen's and Bart Starr's group. They were going to be called the Firebirds) by SB 22 (Was-Den). Then, the strike happened, and it was all downhill from there.

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2 hours ago, Jimmy Lethal said:

 

Birmingham would've moved within 20 years. It isn't a major-league market now, and it sure as hell wasn't back in the '70s. Where did people get this idea Birmingham can support an NFL team?

 

Having lived through that era as a kid, things were very different then, and at the time, Birmingham WAS seen as one of the next southern sun-belt cities that would be moving up to the major leagues; "the next Atlanta".  It was happening with all the bigger southern cities back then; the people all knew their cities were going to become "big league",  and local officials and movers and shakers were jostling to be next in line, whatever it took. 

 

You've also got to think of the expansions and mergers that occurred in that time frame.  With 3 mergers in about a decade, having a team in the 'challenging' league was seen as akin to being in a major league market.  Coming in as an outside league team was a lot more accepted/common in those days

 

Also, look at the MSA numbers in comparison for Birmingham and other now-big league southern sun belt cities (I am including OKC in this mix) between 1970 to 2000:

 

  1970 1980 1990 2000
         
Birmingham 737,837 815,286 840,140 921,106
Charlotte 840,347 971,391 1,162,093 1,499,293
Jacksonville 612,277 722,252 1,100,491 1,173,051
Memphis 856,698 938,777 1,007,306 1,135,614
Nashville 699,142 850,505 985,026 1,231,311
Oklahoma City 717,825 860,969 958,839 1,120,081
Orlando 522,575 804,925 1,224,852 1,801,741
Raleigh-Durham 536,952 665,236 855,545 1,296,350
Tampa Bay 1,105,553 1,613,603 2,067,959 2,395,997


In the early 70s, Birmingham was bigger than Jacksonville and Nashville (which now have NFL teams) as well as Oklahoma City, Raleigh-Durham and Orlando, which are now major league markets.   It wasn't far off from Memphis and Charlotte in size.  As the table above shows, though, those other areas have all grown quite a bit, while Birmingham has grown much more slowly.  It had a shot in the 70s, I think, it missed it. 

 

For context:

  • Prior to 1960, you have NO big-league teams in the sun belt south.  In 1960, Dallas Cowboys and Houston Oilers are added; Dallas and Houston become "big league". 
  • 1965 Braves move to Atlanta, Atlanta becomes "big league"
  • 1966- Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins begin play; Miami becomes "big league".
  • 1967 - New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Buccaneers (ABA) begin play; New Orleans becomes "big league". Kentucky Colonels(ABA) begin play; Louisville becomes "big league" (for quite a while). Dallas Chapparals and Houston Mavericks (ABA) begin play. 
  • 1968 - St. Louis Hawks (NBA)  become Atlanta Hawks.
  • 1969 - Houston Mavericks become Carolina Cougars, Charlotte becomes "big league" (for a while)
  • 1970 - N.O. Buccaneers move to Memphis; Memphis becomes "big league" (for awhile); Washington Capitols (ABA) move to Tidewater area of Virginia, Virginia becomes "big league"(for a while).
  • 1971 - San Diego Rockets (NBA) move to Houston;
  • 1972 - Atlanta Flames (NHL); Houston Aeros (WHA) begin play.
  • 1974 - New Orleans Jazz (NBA) begin play; the WFL begins; Birmingham, Orlando, and Jacksonville become "big league" (for a while). even Shreveport, LA is "Big League' for a short while. 
  • 1976 - Toronto Toros become Birmingham Bulls (WHA), Tampa Bay Buccaneers begin play. Tampa Bay becomes "big league".
  • 1983-1985 - USFL begins play; Birmingham, Orlando, Jacksonville and Memphis return to "big leagues".
  • 1988 - Miami Heat and Charlotte Hornets enter NBA, Charlotte returns to "big leagues".
  • 1989 - Orlando Magic begins play; Orlando returns to "big leagues".
  • 1993 - Charlotte and Jacksonville awarded NFL franchises, Jacksonville returns to "big leagues".
  • 1997 - Houston Oilers announce planned move to Nashville; Nashville awarded an NHL franchise; Nashville becomes "big league". Hartford Whalers move to Carolina; Raleigh-Durham market becomes "big-league"
  • 2001 - Vancouver Grizzlies move to Memphis; Memphis returns to "big leagues".
  • 2008 - Seattle Supersonics become Oklahoma City Thunder, Oklahoma City becomes "big league"

 

The only southern-sun belt cities that had a 'taste' of the big leagues that have NOT ever made it in were Louisville, the Tidewater area of Virginia, Birmingham, and Shreveport. 

 

Shreveport was a kind of fluke, with WFL and later CFL teams and will never be major league;  Louisville may one day have a shot with the NBA, though I doubt it. Tidewater had its best shot with the NHL, but is done; and of course, Birmingham is done. 

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I'll chime in to agree with B-Rich here... up until as late as probably the mid-1990's, Birmingham was seen to be a market on the upswing in terms of population, business environment and so forth.  It just didn't explode in the same way other southern cities did, in large part because it's never erased the redneck, racist image it earned well during the 1960's.

 

Had they landed a team even as far back as the 1970's they'd still have it today, if only because the people of Alabama are absolutely bonkers about football, and they're also dumb enough to be willing to fork over large amounts of public money to build stadia instead of doing things like funding public education.

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13 minutes ago, B-Rich said:

 

1969 - Houston Mavericks become Carolina Cougars, Charlotte becomes "big league" (for a while)

 

Ahem.  The "Carolina" Cougars played in Raleigh.  Precisely why I can't stand the "Carolina" regional designation.

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2 hours ago, Mac the Knife said:

 

Ahem.  The "Carolina" Cougars played in Raleigh.  Precisely why I can't stand the "Carolina" regional designation.

Ahem. The "Carolina" Cougars also played and were actually headquartered in Greensboro. They pretty much split time between Greensboro, Charlotte and Raleigh as well as a couple games in Winston Salem and Fort Bragg.

 

The Virginia Squires were headquartered in Norfolk and split their homes between Norfolk and nearby Hampton as well as Richmond and had a few sporadic games in Roanoke and Salem.

 

The Dallas Chaparrals played one season as a regional franchise in 1970-71 as the Texas Chaparrals and were headquartered in Dallas, They played most of their games in Dallas and Fort Worth and only played a few games in Lubbock before abandoning the regional idea.

 

The New Orleans Buccaneers were going to do the regional thing too for 1970. The Louisiana Buccaneers were to be headquartered in New Orleans but were to split their time between New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Monroe and Shreveport. They ended up moving to Memphis instead, but during the Bucs time in New Orleans they did play several "home" games in both Jacksons (Mississippi and Tennessee) as well as Memphis.

 

The Floridians were headquartered in Miami and played games in Miami, Jacksonville, and Tampa/St. Petersburg.

 

The Kentucky Colonels also did some regional play in their later years playing several home games in Lexington and Cincinnati.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Dilbert said:

Ahem. The "Carolina" Cougars also played and were actually headquartered in Greensboro. They pretty much split time between Greensboro, Charlotte and Raleigh as well as a couple games in Winston Salem and Fort Bragg.

I stand corrected and 5'9".  I wasn't aware of just what vagabonds they really were; I just knew that the Dorton Arena used to have "Home of the Carolina Cougars" up on its wall in the concourse back in the '90's.

 

Regional franchises are, however, a bad idea unless you have a real reason for doing it that way.  The last one I can remember making any sense was the Packers playing some games in Milwaukee.

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Dilbert, Mac --good points all around.

 

Kansas City-Omaha Kings didn't really work, either.

 

Speaking of regional franchises, when I was about 10 yrs old in the mid 1970s, after seeing that model being done,  I thought it would be cool to have a regional franchise called "Deep South Rebels" who would split time between Memphis, Birmingham and Nashville.

 

Pretty dumb (especially since Tennessee is not considered in the Deep South) but like I said, I was 10. 

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