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An expansion team is a term used for a brand new team in a sports league. The term is most commonly used in reference to the North American major professional sports leagues, but is applied to sports leagues worldwide that use a closed franchise system of league membership. The term comes from the expansion of the sport into new areas. This sometimes results in the payment of an expansion fee to the league by the new team, and an expansion draft to populate the new roster.

In North America, expansion takes place in response to population growth and geographic shifts of population, driven by the resulting financial opportunity made possible by such demographic change. For example, Major League Baseball was limited to 16 teams located north and east of St. Louis, Missourimarker for the first half of the 20th century. During this time, the United Statesmarker population doubled and expanded to the south and west. Rival interests explored the possibility of forming a rival league in these untapped markets. To forestall this possibility, one of the measures MLB took was to expand by four teams in 1961 and 1962. Over the past four decades, MLB expanded further to its current 30-team membership. In the context of MLB, the term "expansion team" is also used to refer to any of the 14 teams enfranchised in the second half of the 20th century.

When an expansion team begins play, they are generally stocked with less talented free agents and inexperienced staffs. Additionally, prospective owners may face expensive fees to the league as well as high start-up costs such as stadiums and facilities. As a result, most expansion teams are known for their poor play during their inaugural season. This can be exacerbated by the fact that leagues often expand by two or four teams in one season, to eliminate the possibility of a bye-week in the draw from having an odd number of teams. In those cases, expansion teams must compete with their expansion rivals for available talent.Expansion teams are not usually doomed to mediocrity forever, as most leagues have policies which promote parity, such as drafts and salary caps, which gives some expansion teams the opportunity to win championships only a few years after their first season.

Most teams are considered as an expansion team usually in their first season and sometimes in their second season. A team that moves to another location and/or changes its name is generally not considered an expansion team. They are known as relocated teams. If the name changes they are known as renamed teams. In response to a negative attitude some fans have towards relocated teams, there have recently been instances where relocating clubs change their identity completely; name, colours and mascot, but because the roster is the same, and because the league does not expand as a result, they are not regarded as expansion teams. Teams which have been 'reborn' in this manner include the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL, the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA and Houston Dynamo in the MLS.

Cities and regions with large populations that lack a team are generally regarded to be the best candidates for new teams. For example, the National Football League (NFL) has recently considered Los Angeles, CAmarker to be the best possibility for a brand new NFL team and Torontomarker as a second choice. The European Super League has added teams from Francemarker and Walesmarker to cover a great demographic spread.

List of expansion teams in history

1890s

1899

 CC:


1900s

1905

CC:


1910s

1910

NSWRL


1920s

1920

NSWRL


1921

NSWRL


1922

 :CC


1924

 NHL


1925

 NHL


1926

 NHL


1930s

1933

NFL






1935

NSWRL


1940s

1947

NSWRL


1960s

1960

NFL:


1961

 MLB:


 NBA:


NFL:


1962

 MLB:


1966

 NBA:


NFL:


American Football League:


1967

 NBA:


NFL:


 NHL:


NSWRL


1968

 NBA:


AFL:


1969

 MLB:


1970s

1970

 NBA:


 NHL:


1972

ABA:


 NHL:


1974

 NBA:


 NHL:


1976

NFL:


1977

 MLB:


1978

PBA:
  • Filmanbank Bankers


1979

PBA:


1980s

1980

 NBA:


PBA:
  • CDCP Shippers


1982

NSWRL


1983

PBA:
  • Manhattan


1984

PBA:
  • Manila Beer


1985

PBA:


1986

PBA:


1987

Australian FL:


1988

 NBA:


NSWRL:


PBA:


1989

 NBA:


 NLL:


1990s

1990

PBA:


1991

 NHL:
  • San Jose Sharks (Officially an expansion team although the roster of Minnesota was divided between the North Stars and the Sharks. Both clubs participated in a draft to fill the remainder of the rosters.)


AFL:


1992

CC:


 NHL:


 NLL:


1993

 MLB:


 NHL:


PBA:


1995

 NBA:


NFL:


 NLL:


 ARL


AFL:


1996

NFL:


PBA:


 NLL:


1997

 Super League:


WAFL:


1998

 MLB:


 NHL:


 MLS:


 NRL


VFL


1999

 NHL:


NFL:
  • Cleveland Browns - officially reactivated. As part of the deal which permitted former Browns owner Art Modell to move to Baltimore, the Browns name and colors remained with Cleveland.


PBA:


2000s

2000

 NHL:


 NLL:


PBA:


NRL:


2001

 NLL:


VFL:


2002

CFL:


 NLL:


PBA:


NFL:


2003

 WHL:


2004

 NBA:


2005

 MLS:


 NLL:


 QMJHL:


2006

NTFL:


  Super 14:


 MLS:
  • Houston Dynamo (though they maintained the roster of the San Jose Earthquakes)


 NLL:


 WHL:


 Super League:


PBA:
  • Welcoat Dragons (from the PBL, note that the promotion and relegation system was not used .)


MLL:


2007

New South Wales Cup:


 A-League:


 NRL:


  NBL:


 MLS:


 NLL:


2008

Jim Beam Cup:


Queensland Cup:


 MLS:


 NBA:


WNBA:


2009

 A-League:


 MLS:


  Super League:
  • Celtic Crusaders – An expansion team only in the sense that they were invited into Super League. The club have existed since 2005.
  • Salford City Reds – Also technically not an expansion team; they have existed since 1873, and played in Super League as recently as the 2007 season.


2010

 A-League:
 MLS:
CFL:
UFL:


2011

 A-League:
AFL:
 MLS:


2012

AFL:



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