Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


    • That’s right. Once again, the first guess on the first day nails it.

      BSK points out below that the New Orleans Saints were temporarily operating out of, and played three games in, San Antonio, Texas. Once again, you have to make judgment calls when doing things like this — they were never the “San Antonio Saints.”

      When you see that cities like Providence, RI; Hartford, CT; Muncie, IN; and Tonawanda, NY have all had NFL franchises, it makes you wonder what exactly is wanting with cities like Orlando, Las Vegas, and Portland. Or for that matter, Oklahoma City, Birmingham, or Salt Lake.

      • The olden days of the NFL it was a mainly regional league confined to mostly medium cities in the Great Lakes region- the big cities had baseball franchises, out west/down south was too sparse for convenient bus travel for a financially precarious league.
        If you map the defunct franchises of the 20s/30s list from wikipedia you’ll see them all clustered together.

      • Potential reasons some of these areas never had teams:

        Salt Lake: Might struggle to get attendance/ratings on Sundays in such a religious state.
        Orlando: Florida sports teams in general struggle to gain support. Lots of transplants, lots of old folks, lots of people there for the tax benefits (meaning they are unlikely to support subsidized stadiums).
        Las Vegas: Gambling.
        Birmingham/Oklahoma City: Dominance of college football. I’m not sure of many areas that rabidly support major college programs AND NFL teams (Ohio St with the Browns; Texas with the Cowboys; the Saints have only recently begun to draw; Indiana (ND) and the Colts, though again, that is fairly recent; Penn St and Eagles/Steelers; probably worth pointing out that most of these teams are located in different areas of the state than the colleges)
        Portland: Crunchy hippies will cringe at the violence (okay, cheap shot)

        Personally, I think the NFL can stand to grow and should explore some of these markets, particularly San Antonio or Austin, Las Vegas, and somewhere in Cali (LA probably preferable to San Jose because that area is already crowded with SF, Oak, and Cal). The NFL is in a unique position because TV money is shared. Local TV ratings aren’t the driving force they are in the NBA or MLB. If the NFL relaxed its black out rules (games that are not sold out are blacked out in the home market), which makes a lot of sense given the increased costs and lesser returns on attending a game compared to watching it from home, they could certainly be successful in a few more cities. A 36-team league with 2 conferences and 3 6-team divisions in each would be a nice setup. Have teams play everyone in their division twice and rotate through playing one entire other division (this eliminates the strategic scheduling to improve parity, which I think is preferred; if you want to maintain that, you can have teams play the 5 other teams that finished in their same spot and rotate the 16th game). You could even set it up such that teams only play teams in their own conferences, like the old AL/NL split in MLB. But I’m getting far, far ahead of myself here, aren’t I?

        • I agree:

          Beyond that, the NFL’s restriction on the number of teams it has is another example. Right now there are 32 teams in a nation of roughly 310 million. That is the worst ratio the NFL has ever had and at every decade marker since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 that ratio has gotten worse. This despite the fact that there are more avenues than ever for games to be shown on television. Cities considerably larger than NFL host cities were when they had teams do not get a team (and no, I’m not just referring to Los Angeles). Even now, there are cities without teams that are notably larger than cities with them (and not just New Orleans or Buffalo). In fact, there are between 7 and 10 markets larger than the bottom five current host cities. So why do the host cities still have those teams? In some cases because they got them when they were more vibrant locales (New Orleans, Buffalo) and or because of an intense potential fan-base (Jacksonville)

          I see very little reason to believe that the NFL could not expand by a good half-dozen teams and maintain profitability. It’s not hard to figure out why they’re not itching to do so. The fewer teams, the less competition. The less the big market teams have to subsidize smaller-market teams so that the latter can stay competitive or split their own market. The easier it is to blackmail cities into building them stadiums or else they’ll move. The model is working for them. That doesn’t mean that it’s working for us.

          • > I see very little reason to believe that
            > the NFL could not expand by a good
            > half-dozen teams and maintain
            > profitability.


            > It’s not hard to figure out why they’re
            > not itching to do so. The fewer teams,
            > the less competition.

            Er, I disagree with this. I mean, sure, the owners have a vested interest in their vested interest, of course. Granted.

            But there are two quirks of professional sports (any league) at play here that are kind of bigger motivating factors, iff’n you ask me.

            One, the bigger the league, the fewer the interactions between the teams. This matters much less in baseball (with 162 games) and less in basketball (with 82) than it does in football (with only 16). If you doubled the size of the league, teams would play each other once (if that!) and then you’d be in the playoffs. Much harder to develop and maintain rivalries in that sort of scenario. And rivalries *bring the cheddar*.

            Two, football ain’t basketball or baseball. Injuries rack up like crazy in football – it’s pretty uncommon for a team to survive a two week period without losing someone who is integral to either the offense or defense or both. And already you’re at the point where the top players in the league are nearly irreplaceable in their respective schemes.

            The pool of players that can play at that level just isn’t that big. If you doubled the size of the league, holy schmoly can you imagine what a backup offensive lineman would look like, skill-wise, relative to a starter?

            Your quarterbacks would all be dead by Thanksgiving.

          • Patrick,

            You’re wrong! And I’ll tell you why. There is no magic number when it comes to the right amount of players. The more teams there are, the more talent gets watered down. But that occurs on both sides of the field. What we think of as “Not NFL material” would change with 64 teams instead of 32. Not that I am advocating 64 teams, mind you. I’d love to see 40, would be quite happy with 38, but would stop complaining for as few as 36.

            More to the point, though, the talent pool has grown considerably. Far faster than the number of teams in the NFL. It doesn’t particularly make sense to me to say that we have somehow found the perfect medium today. Expanding to 38 would merely bring back the population ratio of yesteryear. Except that unlike in yesteryear, football is a much bigger sport with more people trying to play.

            My wording was sloppy with “fewer teams, less competition.” There is less competition for TV time and the like. But it should also have said “fewer teams, more leverage.” It’s easier to blackmail cities into building huge stadiums when there is such a scarcity of teams. If they expand by two, they will be able to be able to demand the moon and stars for each slot. If they expand by six, the bar will be less high. Bad for the NFL, but good for people in cities considerably larger than those that have had teams for a long time (and I’m not just talking about Los Angeles).

            I don’t buy the rivalries thing. I would lend it more credence if the NFL placed any value on rivalries that aren’t interdivisional, such as scheduling the Giants and Jets, the Cowboys and Texans, and so on every year. But unlike the college game, they have a mechanical schedule that cares not for such things. They play their own division twice, then kind of jump around to fill out the schedule. So the rivalries only really develop intradivisionally.

        • As far as Orlando goes it’s also always played second fiddle to Tampa/St. Pete when it comes to sports. Central Florida has teams in all four major US pro sports leagues after all; it’s just that only the NBA team in is Orlando. It’s true that Florida pro teams struggle to gain support, and this would be even moreso were a an O-town team to attempt to split the current Bucs fans.

          Of course, the “college dominance” thing is ALSO true in Florida. As a ‘Nole alum with Gator parents, I know this better than anyone.

      • Ahhh, that makes sense. I was going to say “professional football team” but realized that Austin has the University of Texas Longhorns. 🙂

        More seriously, I’ve been thinking lately that Riverside is the perfect location for an NFL franchise. They’d pull from LA like Green Bay does Milwaukee, and it would be their first sports team.

        Memphis is kind of a gray area. They had the Tennessee Titans for a year. You don’t have the “San Antonio Saints” issue since Memphis is in Tennessee, but they were never planned to stay in Tennessee and sense Memphis did such a lousy job of supporting them, they’ll not be seeing a team again.

        Other than Los Angeles, I think that San Antonio is likely to be at the top of any lists. It’s sort of a Jacksonville: not the biggest market, but I bet they would do a great job of supporting it. Plus, they’d pull from Austin.

        Birmingham is an interesting case. When professional leagues put a team their… they fold. Time after time. The only one that never put a team in Birmingham is the original Arena Football League.

        It’ll never happen with Salt Lake City because of the Sunday thing.

        Orlando has a symbiotic relationship with Tampa, where one city or the other gets a team, but not both. With the Sonics having relocated, I wonder if the same is now true of Seattle/Portland.

      • There was a fark linked article this weekend discussing the ‘top ten expansion locations for the NHL’ and Riverside was the top of the list there, too. An East Coast elitist like me is very dimly aware that the Inland Empire is a different entity than “LA” (or “So-Cal”) so it made its mention stick out.

        • I’m honestly a little less sure about the NHL than the NFL. One of the key advantages of the NFL is that there are only 8 games. So devoted Los Angelites will likely make the trip. The NHL would likely be relying a lot more on Riverside (especially with LA having a team and Anaheim having another), which is considerable, but doesn’t have the best of both worlds.

          (Like a true blog commenter, I don’t really know as much about the NHL, the attendance requirements, and so on. So I could be way off base here.)

          I actually read a convincing argument that the best place for the next MLB team is… Brooklyn (or elsewise a third one in the NYC area). Don’t ask me to track it down, though.

  1. To save others some time, MLB franchise doesn’t check out.

  2. None of them have hosted a major party presidential nominating convention, not sure if that’s it but I’m pretty sure Riverside is the biggest that hasn’t.

    Also, like half of them ever have been in Chicago, what’s with that?

    • Re: political conventions in Chicago: easy access to dead voters to serve as delegates ensures quorum count is always met.

  3. If it was MLB teams, Charlotte should be on there after San Jose.

    It could be NFL teams, if we ignore the Saint’s temporary residence in San Antonio following Hurricane Katrina. Of course, this would be more than a fair exception to make given that the Saints never changed their name to reflect the “move”, they played only 3 games in San Antonio (4 were played at LSU and they had one “home” game in Giants Stadium), and San Antonio functioned more as a home base of operations, where offices were located and practices were held. There was a push to make the move permanent but, obviously, that’s failed.

    • Just make sure that Rowdy Roddy Piper fits into either the question or the answer.

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