Will an NBA team come to the Virginia Beach Oceanfront? SB Nation says it could happen

Will an NBA team come to the Virginia Beach Oceanfront? SB Nation says it could happen
As seen in The Virginian-Pilot

The door to NBA expansion, which has been slammed shut for years, opened slightly recently when commissioner Adam Silver said that expansion by two teams to 32 is "inevitable."

"I think it's just a question of when the right time is to seriously start thinking about expansion," Silver said in an interview with The Players' Tribune. "I don't want to put a precise timeline on it, but it's inevitable at some point we'll start looking at growth of franchises."

SB Nation, a sports Web site, thinks Virginia Beach has a legitimate shot at landing one of those two franchises, and had some fun with the subject on Wednesday when it published a mock expansion draft that included Seattle and Virginia Beach.

 

The Beach would have a pretty intriguing team. The starting five: guards Tim Hardaway Jr. (New York Knicks) and George Hill (Sacramento Kings); forwards C.J. Miles (Toronto Raptors) and Taj Gibson (Minnesota Timberwolves) and center Robin Lopez (Chicago Bulls).

But before you pull out your credit card to order season tickets, here's a reality check: Virginia Beach remains a long shot for an NBA franchise.

United States Management, a private group, has plans to build an 18,000-seat arena at the Oceanfront. But the group has yet to close on a loan to finance the arena, and the city's deadline is less than a month away.

The arena would also need an $80 million upgrade to meet NBA standards, and the terms of the deal with United States Management would need to be re-negotiated. USM is slated to receive most of the revenue, from concessions to fees for suites, that an NBA team would need.

It's also questionable, as I noted a few months ago, as to whether the Oceanfront is a suitable site for a team that would need to draw fans from all over Hampton Roads.

Nor is the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News metro area, as Hampton Roads is known nationally, the most coveted of expansion markets.

SB Nation rated Hampton Roads fourth among the top expansion candidates, behind Seattle, Mexico City and Louisville. I agree that Seattle and Mexico City are the favorites, but believe Kansas City ought to be third instead of Louisville.

Seattle is a shoe-in for the first expansion franchise. It has a metropolitan area population of 3.8 million that is growing quickly, a ton of major corporations and is a great sports town.

Seattle lost its NBA team, the SuperSonics, to Oklahoma City in 2008. Seattle officials recently announced they've cut a deal with the Oak View Group, a Los Angeles-based company that has advised Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander on options for expanding Scope, to do a $564 million renovation of its downtown arena.

Silver said that Seattle is "on a shortlist of cities we'll look at."

Mexico City has a 5-year-old arena, and with a metropolitan area population of 21 million, is larger than the New York City area. As the Hispanic population of the United States continues to increase, a team in Mexico City could entice millions of Hispanic-Americans to follow the NBA more closely.

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