Tori Foster, Staff Writer
There have been many rumors and talk about St. Louis acquiring a NBA team. Surprisingly, if they did this would not be the first time St. Louis had a professional basketball team.
St. Louis was home to the St. Louis Hawks for 13 years. They played their first game Nov. 5, 1955, and played their last game April 2, 1968.
While the Hawks were in St. Louis, they had 10 different coaches. They were Red Holzman, Slater Martin, Alex Hannum, Andy Philip, Ed Macauley, Paul Seymour, Andrew Levane, Bob Petit, Harry Gallatin and Richie Guerin. Each coach served a least a one- or two-year term with the Hawks. The Hawks played in the Kiel Auditorium which was located where the Enterprise Center is now.
In only 13 years, the Hawks made 12 playoff appearances, won six division championships, played in 10 conference finals and four NBA finals, and won one NBA championship. We hosted three All Star games in 1958, 1962, and 1965, and had 10 halls of famers. Only one of the 10 halls of famers was a St. Louis native, Charles Edward Macauley. Many people referred to him as “Ed Macauley” or “Easy Ed” on the court. The other nine hall of famers are from different states throughout the United States. There best season was 1967/68 (56-26) and their worst season was 1961/62 (29-51).
The Hawks were good in St. Louis but eventually they flew to Atlanta and have been there ever since 1968. St. Louis could have had an American Basketball Association team, the Spirit of St. Louis, but the NBA did not invite them to join. Besides they would have only received a small percent of every television contact from the four teams that joined the NBA.
However, St. Louis still pops up in conversation when people talk about possible locations for NBA teams to expand or relocate.
In August, Richard Chaifetz, Chicago businessman and St. Louis University benefactor, tweeted “St. Louis would be a great city for NBA team,” and his opinion still has not change. One of Chaifetz’s passion is basketball and he believes St. Louis is a suitable spot for an NBA team. The St. Louis University Billikens Basketball Arena is named after Chaifetz due to his tremendous contributions to the sports field in the St. Louis area.
Patrick Rishe, director of Washington University’s sports business program, had an interview with KMOX news radio 1120 “The Voice of St. Louis” talk show host Michael Calhoun about NBA in St. Louis and Rishe highlighted “Las Vegas, which just added two sports and has a new arena, and Seattle, which is renovating its arena and has a more recent legacy with professional basketball. St. Louis, as about the 20th ranked media market, is pretty full with baseball, hockey, potentially Major League Soccer, and the XFL.” Rishe thinks the NBA’s “G League,” is more appropriate for St. Louis, because the size of G-League crowds would be a perfect fit for Chaifetz Arena. The only team that is on sale is the Memphis Grizzles but Rishe doubts that Chaifetz would buy them and move them to St. Louis since they are one of the weak performing markets.
CBS news discuss the pros and cons of the NBA expansion and their possible prospective. They stated about St. Louis, “They just lost the Rams, so there’s a gap there, but that also likely makes the market less appealing. Meanwhile, they have an arena, Scottrade Arena, where the Blues play, but it’s 22 years old. They need a new one, and fast. Ownership is also a question. St. Louis might welcome an NBA team to fill the hole the Rams left in their collective heart, but not everyone is so sure.”
Hopefully one day the NBA will either expand or relocate to the St. Louis area again and bring out the city’s love for basketball.