Rumors are swirling about the Tampa Bays Rays moving, for at least part of the season, to Montreal. This serves as a reminder that, though the franchises in the four major U.S. sports may seem like long-standing and solid institutions, many teams have moved, failed or disappeared over the years. The history books of the NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB are littered with long-forgotten franchises that once played at the highest levels of their sports.
Unlike some current teams that never make the playoffs, however, some of these now-defunct franchises were very successful on the court, rink, or field, winning many games and bringing home championships for their fans.24/7 Wall St. reviewed historical win-loss records and championship counts using the Sports Reference family of sites to determine the greatest pro sports teams that disappeared.
Teams can disappear for a number of reasons. Most of the recently-defunct franchises moved to a new town and changed their name, effectively making them a different team. Franchises like the Houston Oilers and Seattle SuperSonics were relocated and renamed, despite years of success in their original homes.
Each of the four major sports leagues added several franchises in the past few years as the number of U.S. sports fans continued to grow. Over the past four decades, professional sports have become more and more lucrative, due in large part to multibillion dollar TV contracts. Even a team, like the one mentioned here, that draws practically no fans to its games can be profitable.