Kansas City is well-known for having energetic sports fans that are enthusiastic about a wide range of sports. But, due to market size, there can be some challenges when trying to attract NBA teams. In this article, we give a current outlook on the future possibilities of a Kansas City NBA team. This is where you can jump to the section where we discuss the chances that Kansas City gets an NBA team soon.
Does Kansas City Have an NBA Team?
No, Kansas City does not currently have an NBA team. Although the city has made a push to be in the running to add an NBA team should expansion or relocation occur, there are no imminent plans for Kansas City to add an NBA team. This is where you can read more about the chances that Kansas City gets an NBA team soon.
Has Kansas City Ever Had an NBA Team?
Yes, Kansas City has had an NBA team in the past. Kansas City was home to the Kansas City/Omaha Kings from 1972 to 1975 and then the Kansas City Kings from 1975 to 1985.
The team was previously known as the Rochester Royals, but changed their name to the “Kings” when they moved to Kansas City to avoid confusion with the Kansas City Baseball Royals.
While in Kansas City, the Kings did make one trip to the Western Conference Finals, but they were probably best known for their Point Guard Nate “Tiny” Archibald. He left the team in 1976 but went on to a have a great NBA career.
Will Kansas City Get an NBA Team?
Currently, there are no definite plans for Kansas City to get an NBA team. However, that does not mean they won’t get an NBA team at some point in the future.
But, before Kansas City can even be considered, the NBA must first choose to expand, or an NBA team must choose to relocate. Before we discuss further the chances that Kansas City gets an NBA team, let’s discuss how probable it is that the NBA expands soon.
Will the NBA Expand with New Teams?
Before Kansas City can be considered to host a new NBA team, the NBA has to decide to expand to new markets with new teams. In recent years, especially after the pandemic hit in 2020, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has spoken with more frequency about the possibility of adding at least two additional NBA teams for a total of 32.
Adam Silver is quoted by CNBC as stating, “I think I’ve always said that it’s sort of the manifest destiny of the league that you expand at some point. I’d say it’s caused us to maybe dust off some of the analyses on the economic and competitive impacts of expansion. We’ve been putting a little bit more time into it than we were pre-pandemic. But certainly not to the point that expansion is on the front burner.”
There are pluses and minuses to expansion, and clearly league officials are at least considering what an expansion of the current roster of NBA teams would look like.
Since the pandemic, the NBA has had to raise money to support current teams to the tune of $900 million. While there is an expected return to a post-pandemic normalcy, it could still take a while for the economics to catch up and for teams to become more profitable again. Economics is the main reason the NBA is potentially looking to expansion.
At the same time, however, there has to be new markets ready to accept new teams and there needs to be enough star power to support additional markets. The NBA believes they have done a better job of dispersing its star power, but to some the league still looks pretty top heavy.
Some of the most commonly mentioned markets that could get an NBA team (if expansion occurs) are Seattle and Las Vegas. However, at this point, this is all speculation and no official announcements or plans have been made.
What Cities Are More Likely to Get an NBA Team?
While Kansas City has a shot at getting an NBA team if expansion or relocation occurs, there are a couple cities that many experts feel are best positioned to get an NBA team: Seattle and Las Vegas.
Seattle has had an NBA team before with huge stars and a good fan base. There is money in Seattle to support an NBA team, and the city has a large television market and has proven to support other professional teams. Many believe that even if there is no expansion in the short term, Seattle could possibly lure a current NBA team to relocate there.
Las Vegas is another option. Vegas is quickly attracting many professional sports leagues. Ten years ago, and maybe even five years ago, Las Vegas would not have been an option. With all of the gambling and the nightlife in the city it seemed like a risk to put a major franchise there, but then the NFL did just that.
With the Raiders moving there just a couple of years ago, Las Vegas became a viable option for all three of the major sports and it is probably just a matter of time before a MLB and NBA team end up there (NHL also has a team in Vegas).
The Chances Kansas City Gets an NBA Team
There are a lot of reasons to believe that Kansas City will at least be in the running for an NBA team. Many prominent leaders in the Kansas City community support adding an NBA team and have taken initial steps to help Kansas City look more attractive to future NBA franchises.
The unofficial, informal grassroots committee that is trying to get a team to Kansas City has assured people that the money to both bring a team in and renovate the T-Mobile Center (if needed) would be available without issue. The NBA has not expanded since 2004 when the Charlotte Bobcats became an NBA team at the cost of $300 million.
If the money is in fact there, the next thing that Kansas City would have to prove is that there is a market for an NBA team in Kansas City. Because the city supported an NBA team for more than 12 years in the late 1970s and early 1980s, there is precedent for that.
On top of that, every professional sports team in Kansas City is well supported by fans. Kansas City currently has an NFL team (Chiefs), MLB team (Royals), MLS team (Sporting KC), NWSL team (KC Current). Kansas City is also home to one of the largest racetracks in the Midwest, and hosts several large races every year. Kansas City has proven to have great sports fans.
Still, getting an NBA team to Kansas City may be a challenge in the short term while there are larger markets at play.
Kansas City NBA Team Names
What are potential names for a Kansas City NBA Team?
Kansas City, based on past, current, and potential professional sports’ team names, is a very “royal” city. The Kansas City Royals have been there for decades, and when the city had an NBA team, they were the Kansas City Kings. The Kansas City Chiefs fanbase is known as the “Kingdom”.
With that being the case, it makes sense that a potential team name for a future NBA franchise would be rooted in royalty as well. Team names like the “Monarchs”, a throwback to the Negro League team that played in Kansas City starting in the 1920s, and the “Reign” are some that have been thrown around by local media and fans alike. One particularly eager graphic artist even designed and promoted a Kansas City Reign basketball team complete with uniform and player renderings (source).
Where Would Kansas City’s NBA Team Play?
The T-Mobile Center located in downtown Kansas City would be the likeliest home for an NBA team.
The T-Mobile Center has been used as a site for the Big 12 tournament for years, and it is located in a growing area of the city called the “Power and Light” district.