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An expansion team is a new team in a sports league, usually from a city that has not hosted a team in that league before, formed with the intention of satisfying the demand for a local team from a population in a new area. Sporting leagues also hope that the expansion of their competition will grow the popularity of the sport generally. The term is most commonly used in reference to the North American major professional sports leagues but is applied to sports leagues in other countries with a closed franchise system of league membership. The term refers to the expansion of the sport into new areas. The addition of an expansion team sometimes results in the payment of an expansion fee to the league by the new team and an expansion draft to populate the new roster.
In North America, expansion often takes place in response to population growth and geographic shifts of population. Such demographic change results in financial opportunities to engage with the new market as consumers of sports demand local teams to support. Major League Baseball (MLB) was limited to 16 teams located north and east of St. Louis, Missouri for the first half of the 20th century. During that time, the United States population doubled and expanded to the south and west. Rival interests explored the possibility of forming a rival league in the untapped markets. To forestall that possibility, one of the measures that MLB took was to expand by four teams in 1961 and 1962. Over the past four decades, MLB expanded further, to its current 30-team membership. In the context of MLB, the term "expansion team" is also used to refer to any of the 14 teams enfranchised in the second half of the 20th century.
Leagues that are new and/or financially struggling may also admit large numbers of expansion teams so that the existing franchises can pocket more revenue from expansion fees. Indoor American football leagues are notorious for doing so: the leagues can double the number of teams and have many new teams fail within a year or two. Major League Soccer, after spending most of its first decade of existence with relatively stable membership and struggling finances, adopted a policy of continuous expansion beginning in 2005, a policy that the league as of 2017 has no intention of stopping.
When an expansion team begins play, it is generally stocked with less talented free agents, inexperienced players, and veterans nearing retirement. Additionally, prospective owners may face expensive fees to the league as well as high startup costs such as stadiums and facilities. The team is also at a disadvantage in that it has not been together as a team as long as its opponents and thus lacks the cohesiveness other teams have built over years. As a result, most expansion teams are known for their poor play during their first seasons. Expansion teams must also compete with any expansion rivals for available talent, a common problem since leagues often expand by two or four teams in one season.
Expansion teams are not necessarily doomed to mediocrity, however, as most leagues have policies which promote parity, such as drafts and salary caps, which give some expansion teams the opportunity to win championships only a few years after their first season. In Major League Baseball (MLB) The Arizona Diamondbacks won the 2001 World Series in their fourth season, and the Florida Marlins won the 1997 World Series in their fifth season. In the NBA, The Milwaukee Bucks won the 1971 NBA Finals in their third year of existence, greatly helped by drafting Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the 1969 draft and acquiring Oscar Robertson from the Cincinnati Royals before the 1970-71 season began. In the NHL, the Florida Panthers made the Stanley Cup Finals in their third season even though, like MLB, the league then had no salary cap; a cap was established in 2005. However, the Vegas Golden Knights quickly emerged as one of the NHL's best teams in its first season. Thanks to a generous expansion draft, the team defied all odds and advanced to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final.
The National Football League (NFL), despite being considered the most generous in its revenue sharing and the strictest with its salary cap, has had far more difficulty bringing expansion teams up to par with their more established brethren. Of the six teams to have been added to the NFL since the AFL–NFL merger, the fastest turnaround between an inaugural season and the team's first Super Bowl victory was 27 seasons (the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, established in 1976, won Super Bowl XXXVII in the 2002 season); none of the four teams to hold expansion drafts since 1995have ever won that contest, with only one, the Carolina Panthers (who reached the game in their 9th and 21st seasons of existence) playing in the game. In 1996, the Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars each made it to their respective conference championship games in their second season in the league.
Expansion teams are usually considered as such in their first season and sometimes in their second season. A team that moves to another location and/or changes its name is not an expansion team. If it moves, it is known as a relocated team, and if the name changes, the team is known as a renamed team. In response to a negative attitude that some fans have towards relocated teams,[ according to whom? ] there have recently been instances where relocating clubs change their identity completely; name, colors, and mascot; but because the roster is the same and the league does not expand as a result, they are not regarded as expansion teams. One exception is the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League (NFL): when the Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore, an agreement was reached for which the trademark and history of the pre-1996 Cleveland Browns remained in that city and was claimed by the post-1999 Browns when the league placed a new franchise there, even though the personnel and roster had moved to Baltimore to become the Ravens.[ citation needed ] Another exception is the New Orleans Pelicans, who were previously known as the New Orleans Hornets after relocating to New Orleans from Charlotte, N.C., in 2002. After the 2012 sale of the Hornets, new owner Tom Benson changed the name, colors, and mascot from Hornets to Pelicans. The Charlotte Hornets segment of the franchise's history was sold to the then-Charlotte Bobcats (themselves formerly considered a 2004 expansion team) and the 2002 New Orleans Hornets are now officially regarded as an expansion team.
Cities and regions with large populations that lack a team are generally regarded to be the best candidates for new teams. In rugby league, the United Kingdom-based Rugby Football League's Super League has added teams from France and Wales to cover a great demographic spread. The operator of Super League, England's Rugby Football League, has also added teams to the lower levels of its league pyramid, specifically the Championship and League 1, from both France and Wales, and most recently Canada. In rugby union, the competition originally known as the Celtic League and now as Pro14, which began with sides only from the Celtic nations of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, has added teams from Italy and more recently South Africa. The U.S.-based NFL has been laying groundwork for a potential franchise in the UK, with a target date some time in the early to mid-2020s.
The National League had an eight-team lineup established in 1900, mirrored by the eight charter franchises of the American League in 1901. This list enumerates franchises added since this "Classic Eight" era.
Eight charter franchises of the NBA (founded in 1950 via merger of the BAA and NBL) are still active.
Only extant teams are listed. Two charter franchises, the Chicago Cardinals (later the St. Louis Cardinals, now the Arizona Cardinals) and Decatur Staleys (now the Chicago Bears), are still active.
Two teams from the AFL of the 1960s were expansion teams in that league. Both joined the AFL after the merger with the NFL was agreed to, but before it was finalized.
The NHL had a six-team lineup established in 1942. This list enumerates the teams added since the "Original Six" era.
Six of the seven charter franchises from 2018 remain active.
AFL Women's, launched in 2017 with 8 teams, is operated by the Australian Football League, with all teams fielded by AFL clubs. The league expanded to 10 teams prior to the 2019 season and 14 prior to the 2020 season. In 2023, the remaining four AFL clubs will launch women's sides.
Originally known as the Celtic League, and later as Pro12 and Pro14.
The League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) and the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) initially fielded teams from eight organizations when they began operations in 2013; both leagues expanded to a total of ten teams in 2015.
The World Football League (WFL) was an American football league that played one full season in 1974 and most of its second in 1975. Although the league's proclaimed ambition was to bring American football onto a worldwide stage, the farthest the WFL reached was placing a team – the Hawaiians – in Honolulu, Hawaii. The league folded midway through its second season, in 1975. A new minor football league began play as the World Football League in 2008 after acquiring the rights to its trademarks and intellectual property; it folded in 2011.
The All-America Football Conference (AAFC) was a professional American football league that challenged the established National Football League (NFL) from 1946 to 1949. One of the NFL's most formidable challengers, the AAFC attracted many of the nation's best players, and introduced many lasting innovations to the game. However, the AAFC was ultimately unable to sustain itself in competition with the NFL. After its folding, three of its teams were admitted to the NFL: the San Francisco 49ers, the Cleveland Browns and the original Baltimore Colts.
The AFL–NFL merger was the merger of the two major professional American football leagues in the United States at the time: the National Football League (NFL) and the American Football League (AFL). It paved the way for the combined league, which retained the "National Football League" name and logo, to become the most popular sports league in the United States. The merger was announced on the evening of June 8, 1966. Under the merger agreement, the leagues maintained separate regular-season schedules for the next four seasons—from 1966 through 1969—and then officially merged before the 1970 season to form one league with two conferences.
There are 13 U.S. metropolitan areas with sports teams competing in the four major leagues: Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, National Football League and National Basketball Association. The New York and the Los Angeles metropolitan areas, the two largest cities in the country, are the only two regions with at least two teams in each major sports league, with the New York metropolitan area being home to three NHL teams.
The American Football Conference – Northern Division or AFC North is one of the four divisions of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The division was adopted after the restructuring of the 2002 NFL season, when the league realigned divisions after expanding to 32 teams. This is the only division in the NFL in which no member team has hosted a Super Bowl in their stadiums.
The 1988–89 NBA season was the 43rd season of the National Basketball Association. The season ended with the Detroit Pistons winning the NBA Championship, sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers. This was the first season of the Miami Heat and Charlotte Hornets.
Throughout the years, a number of teams in the National Football League (NFL) have either moved or merged.
The major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada are the highest professional competitions of team sports in those countries. The four leagues traditionally included in the definition are Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL), and the National Hockey League (NHL). Other prominent leagues include Major League Soccer (MLS) and the Canadian Football League (CFL).
The 1995 Cleveland Browns season was the team's 50th season overall and 46th in the National Football League. It ultimately became their final NFL season until 1999, their final season at Cleveland Stadium, and Bill Belichick's final year as Browns head coach. The team finished 5–11, fourth in the AFC Central, though most of the season was overshadowed by the Cleveland Browns relocation controversy. The team was documented in NFL Network's A Football Life.
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The Cleveland Browns relocation controversy - colloquially called "The Move" by fans - was caused by the announcement from then-Browns owner Art Modell that he intended to move the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League from its long-time home of Cleveland to Baltimore during the 1995 NFL season.
This article is a timeline of the National Football League (NFL). It tracks the history of each of the league's 32 current franchises from the early days of the league, through its merger with the American Football League (AFL). The history of franchises that began as independent teams, or as members of the Ohio League, New York Pro Football League, and other defunct leagues are shown as well.
The Baltimore Colts were a professional American football team that played in Baltimore from its founding in 1953 to 1984. The team now plays in Indianapolis, as the Indianapolis Colts. The team was named for Baltimore's history of horse breeding and racing. It was the second incarnation of the Baltimore Colts, the first having played for three years in the All-America Football Conference and one in the National Football League (NFL). The 1953–83 Baltimore Colts team played its home games at Memorial Stadium.
The following is a timeline of the expansion and evolution of franchises in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The league was formed as the Basketball Association of America (BAA) in 1946 and took its current name in 1949. The histories of NBA franchises that were also members of the American Basketball League (ABL), National Basketball League (NBL), National Pro Basketball League (NPBL), and American Basketball Association (ABA) are also included.
The expansion of the National Basketball Association has happened several times in the league's history since it began play in 1946. The most recent examples of the expansion of the NBA are the Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat in 1988, Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando Magic in 1989, Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies in 1995, and New Orleans Pelicans in 2002. In June 2022, Commissioner Adam Silver confirmed that while there are no current plans to expand beyond 30 teams, the NBA "invariably will expand."
Relocation of professional sports teams occurs when a team owner moves a team, generally from one metropolitan area to another, but occasionally between municipalities in the same conurbation. The practice is most common in North America, where a league franchise system is used and the teams are overwhelmingly privately owned. Owners who move a team generally do so seeking better profits, facilities, fan support, or a combination of these.