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7 Towns That Really Want Your Sports Team

PORTLAND, Ore. ( TheStreet) -- For every North American city with a pro sports team, there's another green-eyed town just waiting to take it away.

This month, an National Basketball Association ownership committee voted against relocating the Sacramento Kings to Seattle, which lost its own beloved SuperSonics to Oklahoma City in 2008. Seattle businessman Chris Hansen and Microsoft (MSFT) Chief Executive Steve Ballmer had bid $365 million for 65% of the team and had made a separate deal with a bankruptcy court to pay $15 million for an additional 7% stake. They were also willing to pay millions more in relocation fees and arena development in Seattle's industrial section to move the Kings to a larger market.

Hansen and Ballmer are still determined to build an arena in Seattle and planning to pitch the NBA's board of governors before it votes formally on the matter Monday. But the league doesn't seem to mind having Seattle around as a bargaining chip to extort taxpayer cash of of cities including Portland, Ore., Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, New Orleans or Phoenix, Ariz., for arena upgrades and other sweet publicly funded amenities. It got $341 million out of taxpayers in Sacramento, Calif., so just consider that your starting point.

It's a game that's been played in just about every major sport in the country, but the winners of arena politics are never the same. Hartford, Conn., residents are still reeling from the National Hockey League's decision to move their Whalers to North Carolina in 1997. Hockey fans in Atlanta, meanwhile, have been stripped of their NHL team twice: In 1980 when the Flames left for Calgary and last year when the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg.

Major League Baseball teams used Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla., as a threat after the cities built a domed ballpark there in 1996. The Chicago White Sox, San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners all used the facility as leverage for their own new stadiums until 1995, when league owners finally added an expansion franchise in Tampa and cashed out.

The line for a pro sports team hasn't shrunk. In fact, here are just seven North American cities just waiting to snatch up one of the teams your metro area is taking for granted:
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