By Gordon Goldsmith
The reports that the NBA is genuinely considering coming back to Vancouver are exaggerated. Where this started was a podcast that commissioner David Stern did with ESPN’s Bill Simmons earlier this week.
Have a listen at the 20 minute mark for about 9 minutes. http://espn.go.com/espnradio/player?rd=1#/podcenter/?autoplay=1&callsign=ESPNRADIO&id=6122155
The New Orleans Hornets, which are currently owned by the league, are searching for a new owner. David Stern talks about if, IF, a new owner can’t be found that wants to keep them in New Orleans then he would consider other cities. He states that “There have been no shortage of suitors who have contacted us about moving the team. But that’s not why the league bought it…” “Our first choice is to keep it in New Orleans” These potential cities include Anaheim, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, St. Louis, Tampa, Las Vegas, Seattle and Vancouver.
As a former Grizzlies season ticket holder, I thought Vancouver did a great job supporting a team with a terrible winning percentage. Our worst attendance was when the team was obviously moving and we weren’t going to make the playoffs. Again.
But David Stern really doesn’t want to come back to Vancouver.
Even with the success of the Canucks and the 2010 Olympics, the Aquilini family would have to make a very compelling (read big $) offer to get the Hornets here. All things being equal, the NBA will sell the team to a new city that desperately wants it. In the NBA’s mind, “Canada already has a team…”
I think the reason he mentions all the cities is to get a bidding war and test interest. A local radio station, TheTeam1040, has a poll and around half don’t want it back. That reeks of a city that is still feeling jilted.
“Our goal is to keep all our teams where they are.” – David Stern
Even with the strong Canadian dollar and better ownership, the NBA can’t risk the chance that a team could fail in the same city twice. It would look terrible for the league and devalue the other franchises. With a potential lockout looming, the NBA needs good PR and strong ticket sales to make it work.