Going pro in Kentucky

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By Will Phillips

Enterprise correspondent

We’re in the midst of what is, in my opinion, the best time of the year when it comes to professional sports. The NFL playoffs are in full swing and providing some of the best football of the year, and the NBA season is finally heating up as the playoff picture begins to emerge.
However, as exciting as all this is, I find myself disappointed. No matter how interesting it all is, I can’t bring myself to care all that much (kidding, editors) because Kentucky has no team for which to root. Who is Kentucky’s team, anyway?
Well, that depends on who you ask. For the NFL, some will tell you that it’s the Bengals. Others, the Colts. Still others will cheer for the Titans.
No, I can’t explain that. And on top of all that, you have weirdos like me who say that it’s the Panthers. And then of course there’s the NBA, which leaves you with choices like the Pacers of Indiana and the Memphis Grizzlies.
I suppose you could throw St. Louis’s plethora of professional sports teams into the mix, but there’s no need to be silly. And really, that begs the question of why Kentucky has no professional sports teams.
No, the Louisville Bats don’t count.
For the life of me, though, I don’t know how the people who make these decisions think that cities like Jacksonville and Sacramento are better places for professional sports teams. Heck, Texas has three NBA teams, along with two in the NFL, and that’s barely even a real place. I have no doubt that a city like Louisville would support a team, especially in the NBA. As they say, we are a basketball state. The success of the old ABA’s Kentucky Colonels would seem to support that.
Now, there are plenty of obstacles for adding an expansion team or moving one to Louisville. For one, the fans have to go to the games and support the team, since the taxpayers are going to be paying to have that team in their city. And, if they’re not making a profit, they probably won’t stick around. Now, the problem with that is that expansion teams usually aren’t very good. And if a team is forced to leave their current city, they also probably aren’t very good, or else people would be going to watch them.
One notable exception to this is the move of the Seattle Supersonics to Oklahoma City, rebranded as the Thunder. The Sonics had a storied history in Seattle, and a large fan base. But, they decided to move to Oklahoma, to a city that showed how supportive they could be when the New Orleans Hornets were forced to play there during the rebuilding of their arena, following Hurricane Katrina.
Granted, that move was made because of a disagreement with local government about the state of their arena. Still, it is unusual.
Will there ever be a professional sports team in Kentucky? I don’t know. I do think that it could be a profitable venture if someone decided to risk it. I know I would.