Only 12 U.S. cities support teams in the four major pro sports, and the vast majority have populations far greater than Seattle’s. Can Seattle do it? Vote here.
It’s way too early to tell when — or even if — Seattle will become the recipient of relocated National Basketball Association (Sacramento?) and National Hockey League franchises (Phoenix?). But if it happens, the Emerald City would have eight professional spectator sports franchises, if you count University of Washington football and basketball, which we do.
Seattle Seahawks. Seattle Mariners. Seattle Sounders FC. Seattle Sonics II (new NBA team). Seattle Totems II (new NHL team). UW football. UW basketball. Seattle Storm.
Could Seattle support such a bounty? Or would the glut be too much? Is Seattle, as Sportpress Northwest columnist Art Thiel pointed out in a post this week (Thiel: Kings’ Solution Is Vancouver, Then Seattle), really on the NBA/NHL’s immediate radar?
Twelve U.S. cities have teams in the four major pro sports — NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL. All but two — Minneapolis (3,318,486) and Denver (2,599,504) — have metro populations far greater than the Emerald City, home to 3,500,025 (2010 census), and a total that could be reduced to 3,500,024 if Chone Figgins continues to hit .241 from the leadoff hole.
While Denver seems in no danger of losing any of its franchises, Minneapolis, unable to get a stadium deal done, is ripe to lose the NFL’s Vikings.
Four cities with populations roughly equivalent to Seattle’s — Atlanta, Cleveland, Kansas City and St. Louis — couldn’t support four pro franchises. One of them could only support two.
The Seahawks currently have a healthy season-ticket base, as do the MLS Sounders. But the fortunes of both, as local history tells us, would turn for the worse with losing teams, and might turn for the worse even with winning teams if confronted by NBA/NHL competition.
UW football will move into a remodeled Husky Stadium in 2013, which should buttress its (more expensive) support, but the presence of NBA and NHL franchises in Seattle would do UW basketball no favors, particularly in the absence of an NCAA Tournament team.
As with most U.S. sports cities, Seattle is a front runner, supporting winners and largely ignoring losers such as the Mariners, whose annual attendance has plunged from a high of 3.5 million in 2002 to an historic low of 1.9 million in 2011 due to relentless losing.
In a just-completed three-game series with the Cleveland Indians, the combined attendance for the home games — 36,742 — is 10,000 less than Safeco Field capacity. No wonder the Mariners, who have been in a re-build for 90 percent of their existence, balk at a $490 million basketball/hockey facility going up in their neighborhood.
Four-sport town Denver, which also has the MLS Rapids and Pac-12 football and basketball programs (Colorado) 25 minutes away in Boulder, presents a case which says it’s possible for a town of Seattle’s size to float all athletic boats.
Much larger Atlanta, which has no MLS franchise, argues that it is not.
How say you to these two queries?