Sports franchises move all the time: the Oakland Raiders went to Los Angeles for a few years, and the L.A. Dodgers once played in Brooklyn. The following were never meant to be.
Anaheim Kings (or Royals)
In 2011, the NBA announced that the Maloof family, owners of the Sacramento Kings, had met with city officials in Anaheim, just outside of Los Angeles, to discuss relocation. (A trademark had even been filed for “Anaheim Royals,” harkening back to the franchise’s name when it played in Cincinnati in the 1960s). Just before the move was made official, Sacramento mayor (and former NBA all-star) Kevin Johnson announced that a group of billionaires had bought the team and would keep it in Sacramento.
But despite the Kings sale, other cities tried to lure the team out of California. In 2012, the Virginia Beach city council passed legislation to partially fund an 18,000-seat, oceanfront arena to house an NBA team. An agreement couldn’t be reached, and the team stayed in Sacramento.
Indianapolis Twins (or Arrows)
In the early 1980s, a group of Indianapolis investors (including Fred Simon, owner of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers) made an offer to buy baseball’s Minnesota Twins, with the intent to move the team to Indiana and rename it the Arrows. More than 12,000 people put down deposits on season tickets for games to be played at the Hoosier Dome. The deal fell apart when it was revealed that baseball couldn’t be played at the Hoosier Dome. For example, the right field wall was just 184 feet from home plate, about half of the needed distance. Adding to the deal’s end: other baseball team owners felt an Indianapolis team would infringe on the territorial rights of teams based in Chicago and Cincinnati.
St. Petersburg White Sox
A Florida-based group of investors aggressive pursued several baseball teams looking to move in the 1980s, including the Seattle Mariners and Chicago White Sox. Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf told the city of Chicago he’d move the team to St. Petersburg to get out of the crumbling Comiskey Park. The team stayed…when the city paid for a brand new, $167 million stadium.
In 1995, Nashville built a brand new arena with the stated purpose of bringing an NHL team to the city. It offered a $20 million bonus to the struggling New Jersey Devils to move there. But then the Devils went and won the Stanley Cup, igniting fan interest. Owner John McMullen backed out of the move. (Nashville got an NHL extension team just two years later.)