Well dear readers, some of you may have noticed the very noticeable lull in sports action since the NFL season ended and the Super Bowl hasn’t happened yet, the MLB season hasn’t started yet, and March Madness is just around the corner, and the NBA season is in its annual crawl toward the all-star break. There’s really just NHL action this week so if hockey is your main sport, go nuts. I might watch the Mighty Ducks on VHS and I’ll never turn down Winterhawks tickets, but it’s not a sport I enjoy watching on TV, same goes for baseball.
So in the spirit of discussing what sports might be added to the northwest, or more specifically which towns might receive an expansion franchise, we asked Fireside Sports co-hosts Bryant Knox and Casey Mabbott to debate if an expansion team should go to Portland or Seattle, what they would name it, and if it’s actually a good thing for either town to receive a new team.
We expect the results to be polarizing, so if you disagree with their questionable opinions, let them have it! As always, if you agree, just don’t say anything at all. We don’t want their egos inflating any more than they already have.
Without further ado, here is this week’s lightning round:
Seattle already has a new NHL team, and Portland is lobbying for a new MLB team. What would you name these franchises if it were up to you?
(CM) As for Seattle, how about the Founders? They are after all the only state in the union to be named for one of the founding fathers (THE George Washington). And I think we are all tired of the east coast getting all of the attention on President’s Day, Indepence Day, Flag Day, etc etc etc.
If a new team came to Portland, I’d suggest the Oregon Outlaws. For once let’s have the whole state get credit for a team, and let’s recognize that once upon a time, the state was home to the Wild West.
(BK) Give me the Seattle Pikes all day. The Northern Pikeminnow, despite being categorized as a Ptychocheilus Oregonensis, but this freshwater fish is from Washington state, and other than The Emeralds, I’m not sure there’s a better name for a Hockey team out there.
As for Portland, it’s gotta be The Lagers. A play on words and ultimate homage to the Portland Loggers football team of the late ‘60s, the brew-inspired squad would earn fans across the country on its name alone. I also like Casey’s suggestion, but may I make one suggestion? The Travis Outlaws. Now you have my vote.
If you could only witness one in your lifetime, would you rather see MLB in PDX or NBA return to Seattle?
(CM) Personally, I would rather see the NBA return to Seattle. I truly miss the I5 rivalry, and I have my doubts the MLB would flourish here. Sure there are a lot of baseball fans and it would be popular at first, but I wonder if we would be able to keep interest in a team long term. Most comments about the sport being here revolve around watching in the nice weather in a PNW summer. Well, that’s only three months out of a season that stretches from April to October. Would the team be able to keep fans in the stands in the bad weather the other nine months out of the year? I have my doubts. Whereas if Seattle had sold their basketball team to anyone not named Clay Bennett, I think they would still be up there and based on the success OKC has enjoyed, they were just around the corner from a nice run. Looking at their history, they have had more successful seasons than losing, and I don’t think we can expect them to stink up the arena when they return.
(BK) NBA to Seattle, for sure. And if we’re in a world where we truly can’t have both, it’s not even close. As much as I’d like to see baseball in Portland, I’m an extremely casual fan of the sport. It’s lost its edge and excitement over the years for many of those who aren’t diehard junkies, whereas basketball is constantly growing in popularity all across the world. The fact that it’s in the Pacific Northwest makes it an even easier choice.
The Mariners’ current lack of playoff appearances and the SuperSonics’ similar struggles prior to moving to OKC forced ownership to consider selling the team and risk relocation. Does this give you pause that an expansion team can survive long term in the NW if they don’t consistently produce winning seasons?
(CM) It definitely gives me pause about Portland. The Blazers struggle to fill the Moda Center consistently and the Beavers and Hops and baseball teams have never set the world on fire with their sales. I think people really like the NW in the summer, and then they stay indoors when the weather turns. I would look at the Mariners and have concerns that this city could handle another professional sports team that plays outdoors. I think Seattle could absolutely handle another indoor team.
(BK) I have to disagree with Casey on this one. I don’t think there’s anything about the Pacific Northwest that makes it inherently prone to poor attendance. The Blazers have been in the top nine in attendance every year since 2015, and before that they were top five every season since 2008. (There were some conspiracy theories around Rip City that Paul Allen’s company Vulcan Inc. would buy up remaining tickets and send in paid folks to fill the seats. I love me some conspiracy theories…but that one’s a bit out there even for me.) I do, however, agree that as teams fail to live up to the hype, some people do gravitate to other activities. After all, Portland and Seattle have way too much going on Monday through Sunday to have everyone watch sports every night. With that in mind, I can see where concern would enter, considering wasted free-agent opportunities often lead to a lack of interest. But enough concern to be worried about giving it a shot? Not a chance.
If you had majority control of an investment group, which city and therefore league would you choose to stake your financial future in?
(CM) If it were football or hockey, I would choose Portland as that would in my opinion give you the best shot at consistent attendance, especially if you build a dome for football. If it’s baseball, I think the fans will only turn out in ideal situations for the most part. We all talk a big game about not being bothered by the weather if we’re from here, but you see a lot of hoods and umbrellas and frowns when the sky is falling. If I led an investment group, I don’t think PDX would be on my short list to move a baseball team to.
(BK) Maybe I’m biased because of my love for basketball, but it’d be to get Seattle back in the NBA. There’s such a rabid fan base right now supporting the idea, that I don’t think I’d be able to turn down such a high ceiling investment. I know other intriguing cities like St. Louis and Las Vegas come up every time expansion or relocation is discussed in NBA circles, but the SuperSonics would instantly have the closest thing in professional hoops resembling a college atmosphere (in a good way like the crowd is enthusiastic not in a bad way like the product on the court is terrible…although probably a bit of both). And Seattle is a bigger market opportunity than Portland anyway, so taking a team with more national television exposure certainly couldn’t hurt.
If a professional team wins a championship, in your opinion should they have to stay in that location or vacate the title(s), colors, and team name?
(CM) Absolutely they should have to give up everything the previous franchise held or won. Teams that move to new locations should be treated like expansion teams, they did not exist before and have nothing and have won nothing. Same goes for team names and team colors, if you have established a fan base you should have to start fresh wherever it is you move. It may be spiteful, but I love that OKC can’t raise the Sonics championship banner.
(BK) I’m conflicted on this one. The fan in me says yes, of course the city should retain the titles and banners. But that’s also just not how business is conducted. When a company is acquired, so are its assets. The older I get, the louder my left brain feels the need to chime in. So in the interest of being methodical and analytical, I say…FORGET THAT NOISE! RIGHT BRAIN HERE! GIVE ME MY BANNERS OR GIVE ME DEATH! LET’S! GOOOOOOO!!!!!!