We've already shared the stories of Quebec City, Hartford, Conn., and Hamilton, Ont., after the National Hockey League left. We also highlighted what became of Portsmouth, Ohio, after its National Football League franchise fled to Detroit and what became of Syracuse, N.Y., after the shot clock ran out on its time with the National Basketball Association. But major leagues consistently looking for bigger sources of revenue are never above turning thriving markets into sports ghost towns if there's more money to be had elsewhere. The NFL's flirtation with Toronto and London continue to get that message across, while the NBA and NHL's pre-season test drives of arenas in Kansas City, St. Louis and elsewhere are a reminder to their home cities that there's a price to pay if you want to stay in the game.
Since 2000, six franchises from Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League have pulled up stakes and switched towns. While baseball's Montreal Expos jumped to Washington in 2005 and the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers left for Winnipeg in 2011, the NBA has seen the Vancouver Grizzlies flee to Memphis in 2001, the Charlotte Hornets break for New Orleans in 2002, the Seattle Supersonics slip off to Oklahoma City in 2008 and the New Jersey Nets pay a few tolls on the way to Brooklyn in 2011. Even the Atlanta Braves and San Francisco 49ers made it clear that they're willing to represent those cities in name only if Cobb Country, Georgia, or Santa Clara, Calif., makes a better offer.
Meanwhile, for every town that has a faltering franchise, there's another with an empty or somewhat-empty building waiting to steal a pro team away. What well-funded investors in Seattle made very clear during their pursuit of the Sacramento Kings, meanwhile, is that fans in Salt Lake City, New Orleans, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Ariz., and Portland, Ore., shouldn't take their professional teams for granted.
It hasn't only happened before, but it's happened to more U.S. cities than any league cares to mention. Here are five more that bid farewell to big-time sports forever: