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Relocation celebrations

NFL, NHL franchises find success in new cities

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Posted: Friday January 26, 2001 2:46 AM
Updated: Friday January 26, 2001 4:03 AM

  Baltimore residents lost the Colts but are ecstatic about their Super Bowl-bound Ravens. Doug PensingerAllsport

By Jacob Luft,

Franchise relocations are generally frowned upon, with the team owners pilloried and exiled from the deserted town for all eternity.

It's too bad for the Clevelands and Quebecs of the world that those same owners have been laughing all the way to the bank -- and to championships.

Recent Super Bowl and Stanley Cup history shows that teams have benefited from leaving one city in the dust in favor of sweetheart deals elsewhere.

Three teams in two years -- the Ravens, Titans and Rams -- have used revenue windfalls from new stadiums in new cities to vault themselves into the Super Bowl.

The 1990s saw two NHL teams -- Quebec and Minnesota -- leave small-market cities for greener pastures and end up with Stanley Cup titles.

But not all relocation stories end happily. The Whalers couldn't win in Hartford and they can't win now in Carolina, despite a new stadium and city. The Colts endured years of misery after leaving Baltimore, the city where they had claimed two NFL titles and a Super Bowl, for Indianapolis.

The Good ...

From Cleveland ... ... to Baltimore
Years: 1950-95
Super Bowls: 0
Playoff Gms Won: 10
Years: 1996-
Super Bowls: 1
Playoff Gms Won: 3
The Story: Before there was such a thing as a Super Bowl, the Browns were champs of the old NFL in 1950, '54, '55 and '64. Since moving from Cleveland, they have taken advantage of a sweetheart stadium deal from Baltimore to dole out big signing bonuses to key players and now find themselves in Super Bowl XXXV.
From L.A. (Anaheim) ... ... to St. Louis
Years: 1946-94
Super Bowls: 1
Playoff Gms Won: 12
Years: 1995-
Super Bowls: 1
Playoff Gms Won: 3
The Story: The Cleveland and then L.A. Rams won NFL titles, in 1945 and '51, respectively. Their only Super Bowl chance came in '79 when they lost to the Steelers. They moved to St. Louis and into the brand new TWA Dome only to post four consecutive losing seasons before winning Super Bowl XXXIV.
From Houston ... ... to Nashville
Years: 1960-96
Super Bowls: 0
Playoff Gms Won: 9
Years: 1997-
Super Bowls: 1
Playoff Gms Won: 3
The Story: The Houston Oilers won the first two AFL titles but not much else after that. They have gone 26-6 and made a Super Bowl appearance -- losing to the Rams in XXXIV -- since moving into Nashville's Adelphia Coliseum.
From Oakland ... ... to L.A. (and back)
Years: 1960-81; '95-
Super Bowls: 3
Playoff Gms Won: 16
Years: 1982-94
Super Bowls: 1
Playoff Gms Won: 6
The Story: The nomadic Raiders moved to L.A. in 1982 and won their third Super Bowl a year later. It was all downhill after that, however. They moved back to Oakland in '95 but have won only one playoff game since then and still can't sell out any games.
From Atlanta ... ... to Calgary
Years: 1972-80
Stanley Cup Finals: 0
Playoff Series Won: 0
Years: 1980-
Stanley Cup Finals: 1
Playoff Series Won: 7
The Story: The Flames have been a perfect fit in Calgary, averaging at least 16,000 fans at every game since moving into the Saddledome in '83. A Stanley Cup title in 1989 only strengthened the bond.
From Quebec ... ... to Colorado
Years: 1979-95
Stanley Cup Finals: 0
Playoff Series Won: 6
Years: 1995-
Stanley Cup Finals: 1
Playoff Series Won: 10
The Story: The closest the Quebec Nordiques got to the Stanley Cup was losing conference championships in 1981-82 and '84-85. As the Colorado Avalanche, they won the Cup in their first season.
From Minnesota ... ... to Dallas
Years: 1967-93
Stanley Cup Finals: 2
Playoff Series Won: 14
Years: 1993-
Stanley Cup Finals: 1
Playoff Series Won: 10
The Story: The North Stars reached the finals twice but failed to bring home the Cup. Then they broke Minnesota's collective heart by moving to Dallas, where the renamed Stars won the 1998-99 Cup for their new adoring fans. At least the good people of Minnesota have another NHL team, the expansion Wild.

The Bad ...

From Hartford ...  ... to Carolina  
Years: 1979-97
Stanley Cup Finals: 0
Playoff Series Won: 1
Years: 1997-
Stanley Cup Finals: 0
Playoff Series Won: 0
The Story: When the Whalers left Hartford to become the Carolina Hurricanes, they had won only one playoff series in their history. Four years later, they still have only that one playoff win.
From Winnipeg ... ... to Phoenix
Years: 1979-96
Stanley Cup Finals: 0
Playoff Series Won: 2
Years: 1996-
Stanley Cup Finals: 0
Playoff Series Won: 0
The Story: The Winnipeg Jets hoped to duplicate the success of the Colorado Avalanche by moving to the United States' wild, wild West. Instead of a Stanley Cup title, all they have to show for it is a series of first-round playoff ousters and an arena where 4,283 of 16,210 seats have an obstructed view.

... and the Ugly

From Baltimore ... ... to Indianapolis
Years: 1950-83
Super Bowls: 2
Playoff Gms Won: 8
Years: 1984-
Super Bowls: 0
Playoff Gms Won: 2
The Story: The Colts slinked away under cover of darkness from a winning tradition in Baltimore, where they won NFL titles in 1958, '59 and Super Bowl V. They have come nowhere near repeating that success as the Indianapolis Colts.
From St. Louis ... ... to Arizona
Years: 1960-87
Super Bowls: 0
Playoff Gms Won: 0
Years: 1988-
Super Bowls: 0
Playoff Gms Won: 1
The Story: Neither St. Louis nor Phoenix ever received the best this team had to offer -- the Cardinals (1925 and '47) won two NFL titles while in Chicago. If awards were given for empty upper decks at home games, the Cardinals would be the runaway winners.

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