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The Foreword

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The Foreword

The Student News Site of Allderdice High School

The Foreword

Should Pittsburgh Get an NBA Team?

AI-Generated Pittsburgh NBA stadium in full use | Midjourney

The National Basketball Association has a long history of expansion. Since the NBA and ABA merger in 1976, the NBA has added 7 more teams: The Hornets (now Pelicans) and Heat in ‘88, Magic and Timberwolves in ‘89, Grizzlies and Raptors in ‘95, and finally the Bobcats (the current Hornets) in ‘02. With the talent pool in the League being deeper than ever and the total revenue mark of ten billion dollars recently being passed in the 2022 season, the NBA is looking poised to expand to at least a couple new cities in the near future.

During a press conference in the summer of 2023, the league’s commissioner, Adam Silver, confirmed that the NBA will be looking into expansion as soon as the current media rights deal ends after the 2024-2025 season. While he floated the upcoming sports market of Las Vegas and the historic basketball city of Seattle as two obvious contenders, there’s another big sports market that has lots of criminally untapped potential: our very own Pittsburgh.

To many’s surprise, Pittsburgh had a pro team in the past. The Pittsburgh Pipers, later changed to the Pittsburgh Condors, were an inaugural team of the American Basketball Association (ABA), a rival to the NBA. They even won the first ABA championship in the league’s history during the 1967-1968 season. While the team was very successful in its first season, it went so downhill that when the Condors played their final game in Civic Arena, only 689 fans showed. The team started out hot, but only lasted for a total of four seasons and was promptly shut down after the owners could not find another city to host them.

Even though the Steel City hasn’t had a pro basketball team in the modern era, it doesn’t mean the city doesn’t love the sport. University of Pittsburgh basketball made the NCAA tournament for ten straight years from 2002 to 2011. This streak led to the Panthers being the hottest ticket in town, with two hundred consecutive games sold out and over eleven thousand names on the season ticket waiting list during the Panthers’ prime.

Additionally, if an NBA franchise were to come, PPG Paints Arena is a perfect stadium to hold potential games. It’s already proven it can handle a successful franchise with the Penguins and can host large basketball games with a huge crowd. The March Madness games it held in 2022 were a major success. In fact, PPG’s capacity is over nineteen thousand, a full one thousand seats larger than the average NBA stadium. If it joined the NBA’s list of arenas it would be the seventh biggest in the league.

Despite all the signs pointing to Pittsburgh being a strong candidate for expansion, there are very mixed opinions within Allderdice. “Nashville, Seattle, Vegas, Austin all deserve it way more.” says sophomore Gabe Seldin, who argues against the idea. “It’s just a declining city,” he claims, citing the fact that Pittsburgh lost about 16,000 residents from 2021 to 2022 according to US Census Data.

CTE teacher Mr. Rickets brings up a kind of chicken and egg situation. “I’m not a basketball fan. There wasn’t a pro team to root for growing up,” he says. He explains that If there’s not a team for people to like in their formative years, they grow up not being a basketball fan and don’t like the idea of a new team. The cycle will keep repeating for as long as there’s not a new team.

Junior Malcolm Brown says “It’s just a bad idea, the teams we already have suck. It also would mean higher taxes, I don’t want to pay that.”

Freshman Barak Raz sums up the argument simply: “We don’t need another sports team. We already have enough.”

Sophomore Akiva Camp supports the idea, telling the Foreword, “I don’t like Cleveland, Philly, or really anyone else. If there was a team here it would actually give me a team to root for. I’d be way more interested.”

Junior Sofia Leggett explains how it would bring more tourists into the city. “Pittsburgh’s already a pretty popular city with a lot of tourist attractions. It’s a really nice place that people could fly to for a game and a day in the city.” In 2019, Pittsburgh attracted over 12.7 million overnight visitors and generated 6.5 billion dollars in revenue from tourism, something that adding a popular pro sports team would certainly help boost.

Allderdice students also came up with many different names that could be used for a potential team. The Pittsburgh Phantoms, Ironmen, and Force were all brought up as team names that fit the traditional NBA naming scheme. Sophomore Aviv Davidson came up with the Pittsburgh Bridges or Pittsburgh Point, but naming a team off of a landmark has never been done before, that’s like if the Chicago team was the Chicago Bean. Another name that was brought up more than once is the Pittsburgh Pioneers, which was actually selected in a naming contest when the Pittsburgh Pipers of the ABA were undergoing ownership change. The reason it couldn’t be used is because Point Park University, whose mascot is a pioneer, threatened a lawsuit.

Overall, there are many differing opinions on whether or not the Steel City should get an expansion franchise. The one thing everyone should be able to agree on, however, is that NBA expansion is indeed coming, and Pittsburgh will be somewhere on that list. All we can do now is wait and see if it’s on the very top or somewhere near the bottom.

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About the Contributor
Sam Stavchansky
Sam Stavchansky, Staff Writer
Sam Stavchansky is a sophomore at Pittsburgh Allderdice High School. He comes from Austin, Texas, and has lived in Pittsburgh for a year. He runs for the Allderdice Cross Country and Track teams and plays basketball outside of school. He enjoys playing video games, reading, and playing chess in his free time.

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  • A

    Alex KigerNov 29, 2023 at 5:06 pm

    How bout them Pipers man?

    • W

      Wilson WillliamsonFeb 4, 2024 at 10:58 am

      I’m a huge Pittsburgh sports fan, and I just hope that the Steel City gets a basketball team! I the movie the fish that saved Pittsburgh with Julius Erving and ever since then I’ve hoped for a NBA team in the Steel City!