FALCON6

Popular Defunct Teams

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I've never really understood why, when it comes to certain defunct teams, the now dead franchises appear to have a ton of fans, but from outside their former home region. Probably the best examples are the Sonics and the Whalers. People who have nothing to do with Seattle or Hartford, and didn't care at all about the team when they were around, suddenly have an interest and are always telling you how the team should be brought back. I don't know if it's the gear worn as fashion, or what, but do any of you have any theories?

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57 minutes ago, FALCON6 said:

I've never really understood why, when it comes to certain defunct teams, the now dead franchises appear to have a ton of fans, but from outside their former home region. Probably the best examples are the Sonics and the Whalers. People who have nothing to do with Seattle or Hartford, and didn't care at all about the team when they were around, suddenly have an interest and are always telling you how the team should be brought back. I don't know if it's the gear worn as fashion, or what, but do any of you have any theories?

There was big uproar when the teams moved to OKC and Raleigh respectively, which is a good start. They both had passionate fanbases, and a memorable identity which made both teams gears fashionable.

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Wisconsin's boomers are forever Milwaukee Braves fans.  

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The Supersonics were arguably the most "established" team to relocate since the Brooklyn Dodgers. They won a world championship in the '70s (a dark night of the soul for the NBA but a championship nevertheless), had Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp in the '90s, and were generally a contending team with a passionate and savvy fanbase. Anyone could see that the Supersonics were righteously screwed when the team was sold to the businessmen who were underwriting the Hornets' visit to Oklahoma City, David Stern not allowing George Shinn to sell the Hornets to them when he wanted to. Crewcut Clay and his goons demanded a free arena in Renton that would have been exorbitantly costly to taxpayers and a logistical nightmare, and then bailed because they claimed they technically tried, even though it was an obvious fox-in-the-henhouse scenario from the outset. Sonicsgate says it all better than I can.

 

Whaler nostalgia is mostly about how idiosyncratic the whole team was, with its clever logo, goofy theme song, losing nature, dumpy arena, grim city, and that they were the only team in town, the NHL having a lot of those until killing off three of them in a row. I know that as an NHL fan, I love the league's weirdness -- God knows there's a lot that frustrates me about the league, but deep in my heart I dig the insularity and just-below-the-mainstream feel relative to the other three. And of course, the Whalers were another team that was done dirty by ill-intentioned owners and a league that didn't want them: a group of local bidders was turned away in favor of Michigan businessmen who wanted to move the team to suburban Detroit to stick it to Mike Ilitch. The fanbase was challenged to buy a sufficient number of season tickets to save the team, they did, and then that still wasn't enough. So that certainly engenders sympathy. But I think most of us romanticize the NHL as a tightly-knit, mostly regional league where everyone hates everyone else, and having Hartford tucked in there with New York, Long Island, Newark, Boston, Buffalo, Montreal, and Quebec City helps with that. I was even listening to "Rhiannon" while I wrote all that, just like that scene early in Slap Shot.

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The NHL is frustrating in that it keeps trying to force its way into parts of the country that don't want it rather than embracing that it's naturally more popular in certain regions than others.

 

Hartford, Quebec City, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Minneapolis (yes, in addition to St. Paul), Hamilton, Grand Rapids, and probably Salt Lake City would all host NHL clubs in a perfect world.

 

Granted, I grew up with the IHL and many of these are IHL cities. So maybe I'm biased.

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3 hours ago, the admiral said:

The Supersonics were arguably the most "established" team to relocate since the Brooklyn Dodgers.

 

I'd argue that the either the Baltimore Colts or Cleveland Browns hold that distinction, but other than that...

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Yeah, I skipped over the Browns because of the Cleveland Deal -- pace the talk about "shared records" in case something came up, we knew the Sonics were gone gone. But the Sonics had 41 years all in one place and a championship, the Colts a few less and were a vagabond franchise. 

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9 minutes ago, infrared41 said:

 

I'd argue that the either the Baltimore Colts or Cleveland Browns hold that distinction, but other than that...

 

 

Raiders too.

 

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28 minutes ago, NicDB said:

I grew up with the IHL 

 

A little off topic, but the IHL is where I cut my hockey teeth. The first professional hockey game I ever attended was game 5 of the 1982 Turner Cup Finals. My hometown Toledo Goaldiggers defeated the Saginaw Gears and won the Turner Cup. In '83 and '84, my friends and I went to Diggers road playoff games in Saginaw, Fort Wayne, and Flint. Former Minnesota North Star and Chicago Black Hawk Dirk Graham played for the Diggers back then. I think Diggers goalie Lorne Molleken (my favorite player) also spent some time in the NHL. Following the old "Iron League" was a helluva good time. It's what made me a hockey fan.  

 

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Technically the New York Cosmos fall into the discussion, though the second coming currently play in NPSL. 

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TIL that the Whalers literally played in a mall. 

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2 hours ago, infrared41 said:

 

A little off topic, but the IHL is where I cut my hockey teeth. The first professional hockey game I ever attended was game 5 of the 1982 Turner Cup Finals. My hometown Toledo Goaldiggers defeated the Saginaw Gears and won the Turner Cup. In '83 and '84, my friends and I went to Diggers road playoff games in Saginaw, Fort Wayne, and Flint. Former Minnesota North Star and Chicago Black Hawk Dirk Graham played for the Diggers back then. I think Diggers goalie Lorne Molleken (my favorite player) also spent some time in the NHL. Following the old "Iron League" was a helluva good time. It's what made me a hockey fan.  

 

PaBjCAz.pngGCbGMjf.jpg

 

The Goaldiggers were a bit before my time, but very cool stuff nonetheless. 

 

I used to live for Admirals games, and I was apparently far from the only one since they would regularly outdraw the Bucks. I remember the IHL as a hybrid of the old iron league towns (Muskegon, Kalamazoo, Fort Wayne, etc.) and bigger cities in the west (Denver, Salt Lake, Phoenix, etc.). It wasn't much longer before it became the too big for its britches behemoth that led to its downfall.

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They're hipstery to like because it shows you're in the club if you wear a Whalers shirt or hat and nobody will object to the fact that the Sonics shouldn't have moved and the league would be better as a whole if the team was still there. 

 

Also, they're non-threatening because they literally can't beat anyone right now.

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17 minutes ago, McCarthy said:

Also, they're non-threatening because they literally can't beat anyone right now.

 

And then there's the HFBoards inverse: you literally can't troll the Whalers fanbase because there are no Whalers

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On 8/3/2018 at 8:11 PM, Crabcake47 said:

TIL that the Whalers literally played in a mall. 

 

This is overblown. I remember at first I envisioned that there was an arena at the end of a mall concourse, like where a department store would be. What the Hartford Civic Center really was was just another arena with some shops in the lobby to drum up foot traffic in dying downtown Hartford. 

 

img100-XL.jpg

 

You can kind of get a feel for it here: just a few shops up above the main gates. If you really want to talk about commerce-based ignominy, the headquarters of Illinois's state government is in a mall:

 

interior-view-of-the-james-r-thompson-ce

 

And when you think about it, nowadays, every team plays in a mall.

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On 8/3/2018 at 1:12 PM, NicDB said:

Wisconsin's boomers are forever Milwaukee Braves fans.  

 

This is true. I see plenty of Braves caps in Milwaukee, and there’s a definite degree of nostalgia for them. It’s why the Brewers playing in the NL doesn’t bother me. 

 

What I find kind of surprising is that the Philadelphia A’s don’t seem to be all that popular in vintage merchandise and public memory. Given their successes, there has to be some market for it, right? My guess is that the A’s 1970s dynasty and the Phillies getting their crap together in the late-1940s (as Connie Mack went super senile) hurt the Philly A’s long-term.

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On 8/3/2018 at 7:43 PM, infrared41 said:

 

I'd argue that the either the Baltimore Colts or Cleveland Browns hold that distinction, but other than that...

Don't forget the Chargers. They actually had more years of history in San Diego when they moved than the Colts did in Baltimore or the original Browns did in Cleveland.

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I didn't forget the Chargers, but they moved after the Supersonics did.

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Technically not defunct as the team still exists under new branding.  But to this day, in my mind, these guys had the coolest color combination in the history of the NFL.

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Sadly, my hometown California Golden Seals don't have that much retro appeal. I still own a few pieces of Seals gear though, I can't help but be attracted to the A's-style kelly green and gold.

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