One of the most fun things to do in sports video games is to create expansion franchises. In reality, it’s not as easy as clicking a few buttons to add teams, but we can still explore what sports leagues may be expanding in the near future.
NHL: What’s Old Is New Again
There are rumblings that the NHL wants to add four more franchises to get to 36 teams. And if that is the case, four no-brainer cities should be prime real estate for the NHL: Quebec City, Hartford, Houston, and Milwaukee.
Quebec City and Hartford had NHL teams before unceremoniously heading west to become the Colorado Avalanche and Arizona Coyotes, respectively. In the case of the other two cities, Houston is the fourth-most populated city in the country, so there’s untapped potential there. And Milwaukee makes a ton of sense because of the state’s passion for hockey when you account for their unbridled enthusiasm for the Wisconsin Badgers.
NBA: Seattle’s Redemption
Every year we hear the NBA is on the brink of expansion. However, since 2004 and the introduction of the Charlotte Bobcats, the league remains as is. When Adam Silver and the company finally decided to expand, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Seattle and Las Vegas would have a team.
Seattle is still reeling from the Supersonics, bolting to Oklahoma City and becoming the Thunder. Thus, it makes sense for the league to do the city a solid and give them a new hoops team. The Las Vegas Raiders and Golden Knights have proven that a pro sports franchise in Las Vegas can work, and there’s no better sport for Vegas than the NBA, particularly when you consider that’s where the Summer League happens.
Major League Baseball has been content with having 30 teams since they included the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays in 1998. Yet, based on the drastic rule changes we’ve seen in the past few years, such as the universal DH and a pitch clock, baseball might finally toy with the idea of expansion.
The league should target three cities: Portland, Charlotte, and Nashville. MLB will likely add two teams to keep things even in number. They might stick with a particular geographic location to make things easier, leading to Nashville and Charlotte being the victors.
NFL: London Calling
The NFL is an irresistible force that has yet to meet an immovable object on its rise in popularity. Because of the appeal, the league has dipped its toes in expansion with its NFL International Series in Europe and Mexico. It’s only a matter of time before the league explores housing a team permanently outside the US, with London and Toronto the most lucrative options.
An NFL team in London is akin to Dr. Dre’s “Detox” album: we’ve heard about it for so long that we forget that it hasn’t happened. The Jaguars are a staple in London, and their owners, the Khan family, aren’t strangers across the pond with Fulham FC.
Toronto allows the NFL to break ground in Canada with a city that’s passionate about their teams. After all, they continue to come back and sell out Maple Leafs games even though they will continue to lose in the first round of the playoffs.
If you were to make sports picks for what sports leagues may be expanding in the near future, your money should be on the NBA or MLB. Regardless of where the chips fall, Pregame will help you handicap these expansion teams for many years!