In the world of professional sports, there are multiple reasons why a franchise may disappear. A team may fail to attract fans, which leads to low revenues, and an unprofitable team. The Atlanta Thrashers faced this problem in 2011 and were sold to a Canadian ownership group, who promptly moved the team to Winnipeg. In the NBA, Seattle lost their beloved SuperSonics because the city would not help subsidize a new arena. Despite the team’s history in Seattle, the lack of an NBA-quality arena resulted in the franchise moving to Oklahoma City. Currently, there are still many teams in the Big Four sports in North America that face the threat of relocation. The Tampa Bay Rays and Florida Panthers play in front of empty seats almost every night. Meanwhile, the Oakland A’s and Oakland Raiders may flee the city for a new stadium, leaving Oakland without a professional sport franchise. At the end of the day, if a franchise has problems making money, or does not have a suitable stadium to play out of, they become a candidate for relocation.
The Blue Jackets entered the NHL in 2000 as an expansion franchise. Since then, they have made the playoffs twice – never finishing higher than 7th in their conference – and have yet to win a playoff game. An expansion franchise is not expected to have immediate success, but the Blue Jackets haven’t had any. Building a fan base with a losing team is a challenge. According to Forbes, they are the least valuable team in the league and filled their arena, on average, to 80% capacity for the 2012-13 season – last in the NHL. Though their attendance figures stayed the same this season, their young prospects are starting to reach their potential, and they finally have an exceptional goaltender to carry the load. A lengthy playoff run may be difficult this year, but fans may finally see a light at the end of the tunnel, which may help them avoid the threat of relocation.