10 Things: Defunct sports franchises

1) Montreal Expos

The Montreal Expos, named after the Expo ’67 World's Fair, began play in 1969 as the first Major League Baseball franchise outside the United States. After posting 10 straight losing seasons, the Expos enjoyed moderate success in the early ’80s and the early ’90s, capped by their league-leading record in the strike-shortened 1994 season. After 1994, the Expos deteriorated rapidly, selling off their best players and losing fans and money. MLB bought the team out from its desperate owners in 2002, relocated the Expos to Washington in 2005, and rebranded them as the Nationals.

2) Minnesota North Stars

The Minnesota North Stars were an NHL franchise from 1967 to 1993. The team made the NHL playoffs 17 times, appearing in the Stanley Cup Finals twice. In 1992, owner Norm Green tried to move the team to Los Angeles, but the NHL chose to grant The Walt Disney Company the right to an expansion team instead—The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Green decided to move his team to Dallas instead, where they won the 1999 Stanley Cup as the Stars.

3) Seattle SuperSonics

The Seattle SuperSonics were an NBA team from 1967 until 2008, when they relocated to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. The team won its lone championship in 1979, against the Washington Bullets (now Wizards). After failing to find public funding to construct a new arena in Seattle, the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City before the 2008–09 season, one year after drafting six-time All-Star, four-time scoring champion, and 2014 league MVP Kevin Durant.

4) Sacramento Gold Miners

The Canadian Football League admitted its first United States-based franchise in 1993, the Sacramento Gold Miners. By 1995, there were seven American CFL teams in a brand new South Division. The only successful expansion franchise, was the Baltimore Stallions, winners of the Grey Cup in 1995. Only a month after the Stallions' Grey Cup triumph, Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell announced his plans to move to Baltimore for the 1996 season. Knowing that the new Ravens would be overwhelmingly more popular to fans, the Stallions relocated to Montreal to revive the Montreal Alouettes, and the rest of the American CFL teams folded within the year.

5) Quebec Nordiques

The Quebec Nordiques played in the NHL from 1979 to 1995, made the playoffs nine times, and enjoyed a passionate fan base in their home market. But they lacked marketability, a large enough population or a nearby market from which to draw additional fans, as the Green Bay Packers have with Milwaukee. The team was losing money—they generated revenue in weak Canadian dollars and paid salaries in stronger American dollars—and they found it difficult to attract non-Francophone players. The Nordiques were forced to become the Colorado Avalanche in 1995.

6) Vancouver Grizzlies

The Vancouver Grizzlies, one of two Canadian NBA expansion teams created in 1995, moved to Memphis in 2001 after six dismal seasons on the Canadian west coast. The team finished last in its division five times, never qualified for the playoffs and never managed to win more than 30 per cent of its games in any season. Low attendance, and a weak Canadian dollar forced the team’s owners to cut their losses and sell the team to a Memphis-based buyer.

7) Los Angeles Raiders & 8) Los Angeles Rams

1995 was a bad year for Los Angeles football fans. At the end of the ’94 season, the city’s two NFL teams—The Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Raiders—both left for greener pastures. Both teams cited stadium financing issues as their reasons to move to St. Louis and Oakland, respectively.

9) Brooklyn Dodgers

The Brooklyn Dodgers, named after the reputed skill of Brooklyn residents at evading the city's trolley streetcar network, played in the MLB from 1884 to 1957. They largely dominated the league from 1946 onwards with Jackie Robinson leading the way until their move to Los Angeles due to a stadium ownership dispute.

10) Winnipeg Jets

The Winnipeg Jets first played in the NHL from 1979 to 1996 before moving to the desert to become the Phoenix Coyotes. In 2011, however, the Atlanta Thrashers franchise relocated to Winnipeg to restore the Jets as Winnipeg’s team. The first Jets’ records, retired numbers and history belong to the Coyotes and the new franchise is considered a separate team with the same name.

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