The NBA has seen a tremendous increase in interest and revenue over the past few decades. Their growth in popularity is evident by skyrocketing player salaries, as well as franchise ownership prices that exceed $1 billion. Thanks to social media and fantasy sports, fans can connect with the league in a multitude of ways that were not available at the turn of the century.
With that being said, the level of competition between franchises exists both on and off the floor. Owners are always looking to formulate the most lucrative and sustainable business models for their teams, so they can have leverage on their peers.
One part of that corporate structure is the arena where a team plays its home games. We’ll take a look at three current or potential NBA markets that should look to build new arenas that measure up to the other facilities in the United States.
For NBA fans that are a part of the millennial generation or older, fond memories of the Seattle SuperSonics are a part of basketball’s fabric. Fans of the team would pack the Tacoma Dome and later Key Arena, rooting their Sonics on and creating one of the most raucous atmospheres in the league. It was a special experience, considering that fans in the Pacific Northwest included the Sonics as part of their identity.
While the franchise’s relocation to Oklahoma City has been a noted success, there are still a lot of people who feel sad that Seattle doesn’t have a professional basketball team. There have been a lot of rumblings in recent years that the NBA has been preparing to bring the sport back to Seattle, and possibly introduce a team to the Las Vegas market as well. If and when the Sonics are revived, it would be ideal for them to play in a new arena that they can share with the Storm, the city’s highly respected WNBA team.
One of the sticking points that drove the Sonics out of Seattle was the lack of modern attributes that Key Arena features. There have since been some renovations but considering the wealth boom in the area thanks to technology industry companies, it makes sense to start fresh. The city doesn’t need to go for a building that is too large; something relatively small and intimate would suit the fanbase well.
NBA odds show the Los Angeles Clippers as a fringe contender to be a part of the championship mix. They have a couple of megastars on the wing with Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, and will need both players to stay healthy in order to make it through the Western Conference. Los Angeles will also need some of their complementary players to step up in order to find that third scoring option. However, when looking at the Clippers franchise from a macro perspective, there is one thing that they’ve needed more than anything else; a brand refresh.
They’ve been known as Los Angeles’ second team for the better part of four decades, thanks to their lack of success and sharing Staples Center with their crosstown rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers. Perhaps more than any other franchise, the Clippers need their own facility that they can mold for themselves, without any interference or collaboration with the Lakers.
Since he purchased the team, Steve Ballmer has done an excellent job prioritizing success on the floor while trying to create a fun environment during games. To that end, the Clippers are building a new arena in Inglewood, which promises to be one of the gems of the league. Its completion can’t come soon enough, and the Clippers will hope to be able to unveil a championship banner during its grand opening.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have been in existence as a franchise since 1989, and are hoping to have a team that consistently makes the postseason year in and year out. Their best stretch came during the Kevin Garnett years, culminating in a Western Conference Finals appearance in the 2004 campaign. Since then, the product on the court has been mediocre at best, but things are looking up with a core of Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards.
Before Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore teamed up to funnel money into the franchise, there were rumors that the Timberwolves were a candidate for relocation. It doesn’t seem like that’s a possibility anymore, which is a good thing for fans of Twin Cities basketball. However, it would be a pleasant gift for the area if they could move into a newer building.
The city has a great relationship with Target, considering that both their basketball and baseball facilities are sponsored by the retailer. The Timberwolves could work out a deal that keeps Target’s name on any new arena.