3 pro sports franchises Coyotes fans can look to for hope that the team will return

With the Arizona Coyotes likely going to Salt Lake City, not all hope is lost for the fans who value the organization’s brand and history.
Arizona Coyotes v Edmonton Oilers
Arizona Coyotes v Edmonton Oilers / Leila Devlin/GettyImages
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Cleveland Browns, NFL

By far our most well-known example, the Cleveland Browns looked like they were on the verge of contending to make their first Super Bowl following a successful 1994 season. But midway through the 1995 campaign, then-owner Art Modell stunned everyone when he revealed he intended to move the team to Baltimore, Maryland, and continue the franchise as the Baltimore Browns. 

But, Modell had a lease on the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium, and the city filed a lawsuit when the move all but became a finalized deal. In a settlement, Modell left the Browns identity in Cleveland, and the “expansion” Baltimore Ravens were born in 1996, setting the stage for the Browns to return, most likely through expansion itself. 

And expansion it was, as the organization was resurrected in 1999, complete with what was then its 50-year history. While the Browns have only enjoyed a handful of good seasons since the team’s return, it hasn’t stopped its fans from supporting one of the AFC’s more storied franchises. 

The NHL, fortunately, has more lenient expansion draft guidelines, so if the Coyotes returned complete with their name and history intact, they could be far more competitive than the Browns have been. But regardless of how the team would perform on the ice should they return via expansion, it would be safe to say fans in the desert would be glad to have their team back.