by Chris Foss
Now that the Super Bowl has ended, the only game the NFL plays is musical chairs. The St. Louis Rams (re)became the Los Angeles Rams after the season ended. The San Diego Chargers will likely join the Rams in Los Angeles, albeit—oddly—after playing the 2016 season in San Diego. The Oakland Raiders were rumored to be exploring a $1 billion stadium deal with a Las Vegas casino magnate, then suddenly opted to stay in the Bay Area—at least for one more season. This comes just after the San Francisco 49ers moved 50 miles down the road to the posh new Levi’s Stadium, the site of Super Bowl 50. Sports franchise relocation seems to be an almost constant threat, and occasionally, even in this era of multi-million and even billion-dollar teams and stadiums, a reality.
Sometimes teams don’t move, however. The city of Seattle has experienced the gauntlet of threatened team desertion. On the one hand, fans of the Supersonics still loathe owner Clay Bennett for packing up and moving to Oklahoma City in 2008. At 1.76 million “TV homes”, according to Nielsen, Seattle-Tacoma is the nation’s 14th-biggest television market, second only to Phoenix in the non-California West. But a big part of the problem there has been the stadium situation. The Sonics renovated the dank Seattle Center Coliseum into KeyArena in 1995, but just a decade later the building was considered antiquated and unsuitable for basketball. Meanwhile, as the Kingdome prematurely aged and crumbled, the city survived two close calls in the 1990s with the Seahawks and the Mariners.