The Reality Of Pittsburgh Receiving an NBA Franchise

Beyond the Arc

by Ben Fiore

Growing up as a kid in Pittsburgh, I’ve always wanted to see an NBA team play in my city, along with many others like me.  Throughout the years, it’s been rumored that Mark Cuban would possibly move the Mavericks there, or that there was a city budget planned around an expansion team prospect, but those clearly never happened.  So just how realistic is it that we could ever see an NBA franchise here in our life time?  Probably not too good, and here’s why;

COMMUNITY INTEREST: As many people as we have that are pro basketball, there’s sadly a majority of Pittsburgh citizens that simply do not care enough to even sign a petition.  As prominent as hockey, baseball and especially football reign supreme, people have a mindset that they don’t really NEED a basketball team despite the mass of us that feel we do.

THE MARKET: Pittsburgh simply doesn’t have the funding to put into a team.  At least right now anyway.  Pittsburgh is by no means a poor city, but with so much money tied up in city renovations, businesses, and an already bloated professional sports budget, it’s hard to see a way for them to fund an entire new franchise with players, equipment, facilities and events that would create enough revenue for the city to immediately profit.  They can’t afford the risk of the money they’d lose at the beginning and the wait time for them to see a profit margin.

Although those two points are valid enough to keep the NBA out of western PA, there are a few possibilities of how we COULD get a team there.  Let’s take a look;

STRONG COMMUNITY SUPPORT: If we can influence enough people to get on board to support a team, especially a buyer/owner, there’s possibility for us to make enough noise to get the NBA to notice.

AN NBA EXPANSION: If the NBA naturally decides to expand the league past 30 teams, Pittsburgh is a hot landing spot for where the professional sport might end up.

FIT IN ATLANTIC DIVISION: A concern by some is what division we would fit into.  It would easily be the Atlantic.  That division is comprised of the Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks.  Although it is a tough division, Pittsburgh could make a great fit based off of proximity and (hopefully) market size if we could achieve a decent salary.

PLAYING AT THE PETE: The University Of Pittsburgh Panther football team shares Heinz Field with the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL.  So why couldn’t the same concept be adapted by the University Of Pittsburgh Panthers basketball team and the pro NBA team?  The Pittsburgh NBA franchise could play at the Petersen Events Center, sharing the court with the college in turn saving the city money and not having to pay for a brand new arena.  It’s not the best option, but it is a realistic one.

Sadly I don’t really see Pittsburgh ever being able to build an NBA team, but I sure would love to see it.  And if you’re a believer, go ahead and share this article.  Also, Josh Elsass sucks at cornhole.

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Written by benfiore

Sports writer for Thoughts From the Bench. Specializing in NBA and UFC coverage. Author of the NBA focused column, "Beyond the Arc". Bridging the gap between comedy and accurate sports content for your enjoyment.

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