- Additional two franchises would net existing teams US$167m each
- Expansion not “on the front burner” yet, says commissioner Adam Silver
- NBA last added a franchise in 2004
The National Basketball Association (NBA) is floating the idea of a US$2.5 billion price tag for two new expansion franchises, according to ESPN.
League commissioner Adam Silver had revealed on the eve of the 2020/21 season that the NBA had looked at the “economic and competitive impacts of expansion”, adding that it was the “manifest destiny of the league” to expand beyond 30 teams eventually.
Silver acknowledged that while the NBA had been putting more efforts on expansion pre-coronavirus, adding more franchises was not “on the front burner”.
Despite this, ESPN reports that the league is considering expansion as one way to help teams offset the financial impact of Covid-19.
The NBA has already distributed US$30 million to each of its teams, which followed the North American basketball league’s move to raise its borrowing allowance from US$650 million to US$1.2 billion when the pandemic struck in March. The NBA is looking to extend the measures by more than two years until October 2023.
ESPN previously reported in October that the league saw its 2019/20 revenues slump by ten per cent to US$8.3 billion and it could be facing a US$4 billion fall in revenue this season if it continues without spectators.
A US$2.5 billion expansion fee for each new team would likely appeal to existing franchises, given it would net them close to US$167 million apiece.
Exactly which cities would throw their hat into the ring to join the NBA is unclear, but Seattle and Las Vegas have been touted as potential locations.
Seattle had a team in the NBA from 1967 to 2008, winning the league championship in 1979, before the SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City, where they play as the Thunder.
Las Vegas, meanwhile, has already entered the National Hockey League (NHL) with the Golden Knights in 2017, while the National Football League’s (NFL) Raiders relocated to the city last year.
The NBA last added a franchise in 2004 with Michael Jordan fronting a US$300 million expansion bid to create the Charlotte Bobcats, who now compete as the Hornets. Prior to that, the league welcomed two new teams in 1995 with the Toronto Raptors and the Vancouver Grizzlies, the latter moving to Memphis for the 2001/02 season.