Get Expansion Team essential facts below. View Videos or join the Expansion Team discussion. Add Expansion Team to your PopFlock.com topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
Sports team added after the founding of its league
An expansion team is a new team in a sports league, usually from a city that has not hosted a team in that league before, formed with the intention of satisfying the demand for a local team from a population in a new area. Sporting leagues also hope that the expansion of their competition will grow the popularity of the sport generally. The term is most commonly used in reference to the North American major professional sports leagues but is applied to sports leagues in other countries with a closed franchise system of league membership. The term refers to the expansion of the sport into new areas. The addition of an expansion team sometimes results in the payment of an expansion fee to the league by the new team and an expansion draft to populate the new roster.
Reasons for expansion
In North America, expansion often takes place in response to population growth and geographic shifts of population. Such demographic change results in financial opportunities to engage with the new market as consumers of sports demand local teams to support. Major League Baseball (MLB) was limited to 16 teams located north and east of St. Louis, Missouri for the first half of the 20th century. During that time, the United States population doubled and expanded to the south and west. Rival interests explored the possibility of forming a rival league in the untapped markets. To forestall that possibility, one of the measures that MLB took was to expand by four teams in 1961 and 1962. Over the past four decades, MLB expanded further, to its current 30-team membership. In the context of MLB, the term "expansion team" is also used to refer to any of the 14 teams enfranchised in the second half of the 20th century.
Leagues that are new and/or financially struggling may also admit large numbers of expansion teams so that the existing franchises can pocket more revenue from expansion fees. Indoor American football leagues are notorious for doing so: the leagues can double the number of teams and have many new teams fail within a year or two. Major League Soccer, after spending most of its first decade of existence with relatively stable membership and struggling finances, adopted a policy of continuous expansion beginning in 2005, a policy that the league as of 2017 has no intention of stopping.
When an expansion team begins play, it is generally stocked with less talented free agents, inexperienced players, and veterans nearing retirement. Additionally, prospective owners may face expensive fees to the league as well as high startup costs such as stadiums and facilities. The team is also at a disadvantage in that it has not been together as a team as long as its opponents and thus lacks the cohesiveness other teams have built over years. As a result, most expansion teams are known for their poor play during their first seasons. Expansion teams must also compete with any expansion rivals for available talent, a common problem since leagues often expand by two or four teams in one season.
The National Football League (NFL), despite being considered the most generous in its revenue sharing and the strictest with its salary cap, has had far more difficulty bringing expansion teams up to par with their more established brethren. Of the six teams to have been added to the NFL since the AFL-NFL merger, the fastest turnaround between an inaugural season and the team's first Super Bowl victory was 27 seasons (the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, established in 1976, won Super Bowl XXXVII in the 2002 season); none of the four teams to hold expansion drafts since 1995[note 1] have ever won that contest, with only one, the Carolina Panthers (who reached the game in their 9th and 21st seasons of existence) playing in the game. In 1996, the Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars each made it to their respective conference championship games in their second season in the league.
Expansion teams are usually considered as such in their first season and sometimes in their second season. A team that moves to another location and/or changes its name is not an expansion team. If it moves, it is known as a relocated team, and if the name changes, the team is known as a renamed team. In response to a negative attitude that some fans have towards relocated teams,[according to whom?] there have recently been instances where relocating clubs change their identity completely; name, colors, and mascot; but because the roster is the same and the league does not expand as a result, they are not regarded as expansion teams. One exception is the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League (NFL): when the Cleveland Brownsmoved to Baltimore, an agreement was reached for which the trademark and history of the pre-1996 Cleveland Browns remained in that city and was claimed by the post-1999 Browns when the league placed a new franchise there, even though the personnel and roster had moved to Baltimore to become the Ravens. Another exception is the New Orleans Pelicans, who were previously known as the New Orleans Hornets after relocating to New Orleans from Charlotte, N.C., in 2002. After the 2012 sale of the Hornets, new owner Tom Benson changed the name, colors, and mascot from Hornets to Pelicans. The Charlotte Hornets segment of the franchise's history was sold to the then-Charlotte Bobcats (themselves formerly considered a 2004 expansion team) and the 2002 New Orleans Hornets are now officially regarded as an expansion team.
The National League had an eight-team lineup established in 1900, mirrored by the eight charter franchises of the American League in 1901. This list enumerates franchises added since this "Classic Eight" era.
2002 - Franchise moves to New Orleans, keeping the Hornets name until becoming the New Orleans Pelicans prior to the 2013-14 season.
2004 - The NBA returns to Charlotte with the expansion Charlotte Bobcats franchise.
2014 - Following the New Orleans team's name change, the Bobcats reclaim the Hornets name effective with the 2014-15 season. In addition, the Hornets, Pelicans, and NBA agree that all history and records of every previous NBA team in Charlotte (including the original Charlotte Hornets) would belong to the revived Hornets.
2002: New Orleans Hornets (now New Orleans Pelicans) - Following the 2014 assumption of the original Charlotte Hornets' history by the revived Charlotte Hornets, the Pelicans are now officially considered an expansion team that began play in the 2002-03 season.
1996: Baltimore Ravens -- The Cleveland Browns move to Baltimore and become the Ravens. Following the 1999 assumption of the Cleveland Browns' history by the revived Cleveland Browns, the Baltimore Ravens are officially considered an expansion team that began play in the 1996 season, though they did not hold an expansion draft.
1999: The Cleveland Browns are revived, hold an expansion draft, and receive sole possession of the history and records of the Browns prior to 1996.
2006: Houston Dynamo - In 2005, the San Jose Earthquakes relocated to Houston, considered to be a new expansion team, while the Earthquakes were put on hiatus. A new San Jose Earthquakes team launched in 2007 as an expansion team under new ownership, but maintained the history of the original Earthquakes.
Baltimore Stallions (technically defunct) - The Stallions were the most successful team in the CFL's U.S. experiment, winning the Grey Cup in 1995. However, the impending relocation of the NFL's Cleveland Browns to Baltimore led the team to depart for Montreal, where it became the current version of the Montreal Alouettes. Despite this history, the CFL does not recognize the link between the Stallions and Alouettes, instead treating the Alouettes as a continuation of past CFL teams in Montreal.
2014: Florida Launch (Though the league considers it an expansion, it was a relocation of the management and player assets from the Hamilton Nationals, though the name, colors, and team history remained in Hamilton) (defunct)
AFL Women's, launched in 2017, is operated by the Australian Football League, with all teams fielded by AFL clubs. The first expansion occurred prior to the 2019 season, with a second expansion set for the 2020 season.
The Cheetahs and Force were both dropped from Super Rugby after the 2017 season. The Cheetahs immediately became an expansion team in Pro14. The Force later moved to Australia's National Rugby Championship.
2011: Lev Poprad - This team, based in Slovakia, was purchased after its first KHL season (2011-12) by Czech interests. It was disbanded and replaced by the similarly named Lev Praha. The latter team folded at the end of the 2013-14 season.
Aironi - A team formed specifically for the competition by several existing clubs in Northern Italy, with Viadana the lead side. The team folded when the Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) revoked its professional license effective with the end of the 2011-12 Pro12 season; it was replaced by the FIR-operated Zebre.
Benetton Treviso - Founded in 1932, it competed in Italian domestic leagues before joining the competition originally known as the Celtic League, later known as Pro12 and now as Pro14.
These teams had played in Super Rugby before that competition's governing body, SANZAAR, axed three teams at the end of the 2017 season. Both had themselves been Super Rugby expansion teams; the Cheetahs entered in 2006 and the Kings in 2013.
Celtic Crusaders (later Crusaders Rugby League) - An expansion team only in the sense that they were invited into Super League. The club were established in 2005. After the 2011 season, the club folded due to financial problems; their effective successor club, the North Wales Crusaders, currently compete in League 1, two levels below Super League.
2012: Widnes Vikings - An expansion team only in the sense that they have been invited into the now-franchised Super League. The club have existed since 1875, were founding members of what is now the Rugby Football League in 1895, and participated in Super League as recently as 2005.
Welwitschias (a developmental side for the Namibia national rugby union team) - This was the second time Namibia participated in the competition; it entered a team from 1999 to 2001. The team withdrew from the competition after the 2011 season due to financial constraints. They remained in the Vodacom Cup until the competition was scrapped after its 2015 season. The team now features in the Vodacom Cup's successor competition, the Rugby Challenge.
Pampas XV (a developmental side for the Argentina national rugby union team) - Argentina left the Vodacom Cup after the 2013 season, choosing instead to enter the IRB Pacific Cup from 2014. At that time, it was also expected that Argentina would be added to Super Rugby in the near future, and the country would eventually receive a Super Rugby team beginning in 2016.
^While the Baltimore Ravens are officially considered an expansion franchise that began play in 1996, they did not stock their roster with an expansion draft, instead taking on the contracts of the former Cleveland Browns players, while the Browns suspended operations for three seasons. The Ravens later won the Super Bowl in their 5th and 17th seasons of existence. Conversely, when the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999, while not an expansion franchise, their initial roster was stocked by an expansion draft and they were given the top pick in the 1999 NFL Draft. The Browns have not appeared in the Super Bowl since returning to the league.