I was out in Arizona for work recently, and I noticed that the Phoenix metro-area teams all have their own philosophy on where exactly they claim to be from. You have the Arizona Diamondbacks, who play their home games in the city of Phoenix. The Arizona Cardinals, who used to be called the Phoenix Cardinals, who played their games in Tempe and now in Glendale. The Phoenix Suns, who play their games in Phoenix, and the Phoenix Coyotes, who played their games in Phoenix but now also moved out to Glendale.
Now this sort of a norm in sports. Some teams would rather name their team after their state to market to the entire state instead of just a specific city. I think this makes a lot of sense for all of the Minnesota teams, who are all called "Minnesota" and are Minnesota's only team in all 4 sports (and Minneapolis is annoying the say); the Utah Jazz, Utah's only pro team (I don't recognize the MLS); the Tennessee Titans, because it can unite the Memphis/Nashville rivalry; and both teams that are just called "Carolina" because both Carolinas are loaded with a lot of medium sized markets. But there are some other odd uses of this naming technique....let's take a look by sport, discussing each from most to least sensible....MLB:
There are 6 teams with regional or just bizarre names: The Twins, Angels, Rangers, Marlins, Diamondbacks, and Rockies. As I said above, I think Minnesota is the best use of a state's name because it rolls off the tongue a lot easier than Minneapolis. Arizona and Colorado are also acceptable names because the nickname is something closely associated with the entire state (the mountain range is often called "the Colorado Rockies"), and it could be assumed that they play in Phoenix and Denver, respectively. I'm going to give the Florida Marlins a bit of a pass because they decided to name themselves "Florida" before the Tampa Bay Rays existed, but now they would probably be better off as the alliterative Miami Marlins. The Texas Rangers name is the opposite situation as the Marlins, because when they moved to the Dallas area, the Astros were already in Texas. I understand the name choice because of the famous Texas Ranger lawmen, but what's wrong with being proud of coming from Dallas? The Cowboys play in Irving, but they are still Dallas. The Angels need their own category....The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:
The dumbest name in all of sports. It all started going downhill in 1965, when they announced their move to Anaheim and a name change to "California" even though the state had 2 other teams at the time. They kept the California name all the way to 1996, when there were 5 teams in the state. When Disney took over the team, they wanted to market the city of Disneyland by correctly calling them "Anaheim," even though that would be like Arlington Rangers or St. Pete Rays in other cities. The city of Anaheim also agreed to renovate their stadium only if "Anaheim" became part of their name. When they were sold again, Los Angeles returned to market to the whole LA area (probably the right move) but stubborn old Anaheim forced them to keep Anaheim in the name....whew...NFL:
There are 5 teams with regional names in football: Patriots, Titans, Vikings, Panthers, and Cardinals, and 3 other noteworthy names. Like I said above, I think the use of Tennessee, Minnesota, Carolina, and Arizona are all good representations because all 4 are representing an entire state(s) and in the case of Tennessee and Carolina, are trying to group 2 or more small markets into 1 large inclusive group. I also don't mind the name New England for the Patriots. Foxborough is actually closer to Providence, Rhode Island, than it is to Boston, and they are the only team in the 6-state New England region. There are 3 interesting teams in this mix too, the Giants, Jets, and Redskins, who all are named after a large city but actually play in an entirely different state than the city they are named for. I think they got this right too, sticking with the traditional "New York" and "Washington" over "New Jersey" or "Landover" or "Maryland." All 3 of these teams originated in the cities they are named for too.NBA:
There are 5 teams with regional names in basketball, and 4 of them make a lot of sense. As I said before, Minnesota and Utah are the only game in town. Also, calling the Pacers "Indiana" is smart in a basketball crazy state that needs to fight off Bulls fans in the northwest and Pistons fans in the northeast. The use of "New Jersey" for the Nets is interesting instead of their former name, New York. They do indeed play in Jersey, and are claiming the state for themselves to fight off Knicks fans I guess. Quite possibly the dumbest name in sports falls back to another California team, the Golden State Warriors. Not only are they taking a state's nickname
, there are 3 other teams that play in their state. It all used to make sense when they were called "San Francisco" (Even if their uniforms just said "The City" on them) but it wasn't like they were moving off to a far away land when they build their stadium in Oakland. Thanks to the Raiders and A's, Oakland is a well known city in sports and would work fine for the Warriors, or they could just stick with San Francisco since that is the general metro-area name.NHL:
There are 5 teams in the hockey with a regional name: Devils, Hurricanes, Panthers, Wild, and Avalanche. Minnesota, Colorado, and Carolina work here for reasons I already mentioned, and I think this is an even better use of "New Jersey" since there are already 2 other "New York" teams, and Newark is just an awkward name. The Florida Panthers are the big violators here, joining the NHL and naming themselves after a state when the Tampa Bay Lightning were already playing there, but at least there is an actual animal
with that name.
So in the end, my advice to teams looking for a name is that if you're the only team in your state or region and its easier to market than the small to mid size city you play in, then go for the state/regional name. Otherwise, stick to the city or nearest large city you play in. It will be interesting to see if the Sonics go with Oklahoma City or Oklahoma for their name. Just try to avoid calling yourself the Grand Canyon State Coyotes of Glendale.