Thursday, 31 May 2012
Why the NBA should return to Vancouver
The Vancouver Grizzlies have been gone from Vancouver since 2001, but now people are beginning to want them back. They left for several reasons, but many factors have people optimistic that a basketball team could flourish and succeed this time around.
When the Grizzlies left Vancouver and moved to Memphis in 2001, the Canadian Dollar was very low compared to the US Dollar, and since the NBA is American based, the team had trouble making money. Attendance was quite high in the first 3 years, hovering around the league average, but it began to drop after the 1998 lockout and was league-worst in the franchise's final season. The team never made the playoffs or had a winning percentage of over .300, which began to push away fans.
Why then, do people feel that the NBA would work in Vancouver the second time? The Canadian Dollar is doing great, and is actually worth more than the American. Rogers Arena is a premier sports stadium. and wouldn't be hard to configure for basketball games. Although the Canucks play there also, the schedules would need to work around each other. Vancouver has a large foreign population, and basketball is very popular among them, especially Asians. Imagine Jeremy Lin playing basketball in Vancouver! The Canucks sell out every game, and the number of basketball fans in the city has grown in the past 10 years (my own speculation), which would result in high attendance rates. The Winnipeg Jets returned this year, and they moved for some similar reasons as the Grizzlies. The NHL felt they could make the commitment due to the rabid fan base there and that the team would succeed this time around. Although the NBA is a lot richer and has more income than the NHL, they want to continue the international spread of their product. Over half of the population of Vancouver are of visible minorities, often coming from countries where basketball is more dominant then hockey.
It will be interesting to see how the next few years progress and if the city starts to rally to get a team back. There is a twitter account, website, and petition going around, which I will provide the links for below.