List of American and Canadian cities by number of major professional sports franchises
Major professional sports leagues
The major professional sports leagues, or simply major leagues, in the United States and Canada are the highest professional competitions of team sports in the two countries. Although individual sports such as golf, tennis, and auto racing are also very popular, the term is usually limited to team sports.
The term "major league" was first used in 1921 in reference to Major League Baseball (MLB), the top level of professional American baseball. Today, the major northern North America professional team sports leagues are Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL), and the National Hockey League (NHL).
These four leagues are also commonly referred to as the Big Four. Each of these is the richest professional club competition in its sport worldwide. The best players can become cultural icons in both countries and elsewhere in the world, because the leagues enjoy a significant place in popular culture in the US and Canada. The NFL has 32 teams, and the others have 30 each. The vast majority of major league teams are concentrated in the most populous metropolitan areas of the United States.
Every major league averages 15,000 fans in attendance per game or higher as of 2011.
Baseball, football, and hockey have had professional leagues for over 100 years; early leagues such as the National Association, Ohio League, and National Hockey Association formed the basis of the modern MLB, NFL and NHL respectively. Basketball is a relatively new development; the NBA evolved from the National Basketball League and its splinter group the Basketball Association of America, taking on its current form in 1949.
Other notable leagues include Major League Soccer (MLS), the Canadian Football League (CFL), the Arena Football League (AFL), Major League Lacrosse (MLL), the National Lacrosse League (NLL) and the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). The CFL and MLS are other popular leagues in both countries. Therefore, this list includes a ranking by teams in the Big Four (B4), and a separate ranking also including teams in the CFL and MLS, called the Big Six (B6).
Though teams are listed here by metropolitan area, the distribution and support of teams within an area can reveal regional fractures below that level, whether by neighborhood, rival cities within a media market or separate markets entirely. Baseball teams provide illustrations for several of these models. In New York City, the Yankees are popularly dubbed the "Bronx Bombers" for their home borough and generally command the loyalties of fans from the Bronx, parts of Brooklyn, Staten Island, Manhattan, Long Island, parts of North Jersey and Westchester County, New York, while the Mets play in Queens and draw support from Queens, Brooklyn and parts of Long Island, revealing a split by neighborhood. The San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics represent rival cities within the Bay Area, a single media market. Though the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles share a metro area, their cities anchor separate media markets and hold distinctly separate cultural identities. In Los Angeles, the Lakers and Clippers share an arena (Staples Center), and media coverage is split amongst different broadcasters in the metro area.
The largest metropolitan area without one of the Big Four teams is Las Vegas, which is the 34th largest market in Northern America. This is largely due to concerns of how a team in Las Vegas would affect the sports gaming industry. At the same time, football, basketball and baseball have all considered putting a team in the area, and for a brief time in 1994, the CFL (during its period of American expansion) had a team in the city; however, the Las Vegas Posse was a complete failure in the area and folded after one season. The smallest to have one of the Big Four is Green Bay as the 146th largest metropolitan area, though much of its fan base is drawn from nearby Milwaukee, the 35th largest; the smallest stand-alone metropolitan area to have one of the Big Four is 78th-largest Winnipeg (Jets, NHL), while 54th-largest New Orleans is the smallest to have more than one (New Orleans Pelicans and New Orleans Saints).
List of teams by urban area
The following list contains all urban areas in the United States and Canada containing at least one team in any of the six major leagues. The table contains the population rank based on their urban population as compiled by Demographia, the number of teams in the big four leagues (B4) and the big six leagues (B6), and the city's teams in the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Soccer (MLS) and the Canadian Football League (CFL).
|New York City||United States||1||20,661,000||9||10||Giants
|Red Bulls[note 1]||—|
|Los Angeles||United States||2||15,250,000||6||7||[note 2]||Dodgers
|San Francisco Bay Area||United States||6||5,996,000||6||7||49ers
|Dallas-Fort Worth||United States||5||6,077,000||4||5||Cowboys||Rangers||Mavericks||Stars||FC Dallas||—|
|Toronto||Canada||4||6,054,000||3||5||[note 6]||Blue Jays||Raptors||Maple Leafs[note 7]||Toronto FC||Argonauts|
|Washington, D.C.||United States||11||4,792,000||4||5||Redskins||Nationals||Wizards||Capitals||D.C. United||—|
|Boston||United States||12||4,499,000||4||5||Patriots||Red Sox||Celtics||Bruins||Revolution||—|
|Miami||United States||7||5,817,000||4||4||Dolphins||Marlins||Heat||Panthers||[note 8]||—|
|Detroit||United States||14||3,738,000||4||4||Lions||Tigers||Pistons||Red Wings||—||—|
|Minneapolis–Saint Paul||United States||18||2,683,000||4||4||Vikings||Twins||Timberwolves||Wild||—||—|
|Atlanta||United States||10||4,849,000||3||3||Falcons||Braves||Hawks||[note 9]||[note 10]||—|
|Tampa Bay Area||United States||19||2,592,000||3||3||Buccaneers||Rays||—||Lightning||[note 11]||—|
|St. Louis||United States||22||2,194,000||3||3||Rams||Cardinals||[note 12]||Blues||—||—|
|Cleveland||United States||29||1,774,000||3||3||Browns||Indians||Cavaliers||[note 13]||—||—|
|Pittsburgh||United States||30||1,738,000||3||3||Steelers||Pirates||[note 14]||Penguins||—||—|
|Seattle||United States||16||3,208,000||2||3||Seahawks||Mariners||[note 15]||—||Sounders||—|
|Kansas City||United States||32||1,581,000||2||3||Chiefs||Royals||[note 16]||[note 17]||Sporting||—|
|San Diego||United States||17||3,077,000||2||2||Chargers||Padres||[note 18]||—||—||—|
|Baltimore||United States||21||2,257,000||2||2||Ravens||Orioles||[note 19]||—||—||[note 20]|
|Cincinnati||United States||31||1,649,000||2||2||Bengals||Reds||[note 21]||—||—||—|
|Milwaukee||United States||37||1,392,000||2||2||[note 22]||Brewers||Bucks||—||—||—|
|Buffalo||United States||51||932,000||2||2||Bills||—||[note 23]||Sabres||—||—|
|New Orleans||United States||53||911,000||2||2||Saints||—||Pelicans||—||—||—|
|Portland||United States||26||1,956,000||1||2||—||—||Trail Blazers||—||Timbers||—|
|Columbus||United States||36||1,418,000||1||2||—||—||—||Blue Jackets||Crew||—|
|Salt Lake City||United States||44||1,097,000||1||2||—||—||Jazz||—||Real Salt Lake||—|
|Orlando||United States||25||1,983,000||1||1||—||—||Magic||—||[note 26]||—|
|San Antonio||United States||27||1,881,000||1||1||[note 27]||—||Spurs||—||—||[note 28]|
|Sacramento||United States||28||1,837,000||1||1||—||—||Kings||—||—||[note 29]|
|Oklahoma City||United States||39||1,262,000||1||1||—||—||Thunder||—||—||—|
|Memphis||United States||43||1,099,000||1||1||[note 30]||—||Grizzlies||—||—||[note 31]|
|Green Bay||United States||—||207,000||1||1||Packers||—||—||—||—||—|
- New York City FC intends to begin playing in the 2015 MLS season.
- Los Angeles has hosted two NFL teams over the years. However, L.A. has not hosted a team since the 1994 season when the Los Angeles Rams moved to St. Louis, Missouri, and the Los Angeles Raiders returned to Oakland, California. The Los Angeles Chargers also played a single season in the American Football League before relocating to San Diego.
- CD Chivas USA was a Major League Soccer club that existed between 2005 and 2014 before folding. A second Los Angeles team intends to begin play in 2017.
- The California Golden Seals were an NHL expansion team which played from 1967–76. Initially named California Seals, the team was renamed Oakland Seals part-way through the 1967–68 season, and then to California Golden Seals in 1970. They eventually moved to Cleveland to become the Cleveland Barons in 1976. In 1978, the Barons merged with the Minnesota North Stars. In 1991, the former owners of the Barons – George and Gordon Gund – returned NHL ice hockey to the Bay Area with the expansion San Jose Sharks.
- Chicago has had two prior NBA teams: the Stags existed from 1946 to 1950 before folding, and the Chicago Packers/Zephyrs played from 1961 to 1963, before moving to Baltimore and, later, Washington, D.C. (now playing as the Wizards).
- Toronto-based Rogers Communications has a sharing agreement with the NFL's Buffalo Bills to lease the team for one regular season game each year. It is not counted in this tally as a Toronto team.
- The Hamilton Tigers played in the NHL from 1920–1925. They relocated to New York City in 1926 to become the New York Americans.
- Miami Fusion F.C. was a MLS club located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida that played from 1998 to 2001 when they folded. Also, the Miami MLS team was founded in 2014, and the year scheduled to play is pending due to a stadium agreement.
- The NHL expanded to Atlanta in 1972 with the Atlanta Flames, but the team departed for Calgary, Alberta in 1980 to become the Calgary Flames. In 1999 another expansion franchise, the Atlanta Thrashers, was established but this team moved to Winnipeg and became the Winnipeg Jets in 2011.
- Atlanta MLS team intends to begin playing in the 2017 MLS season.
- The Tampa Bay Mutiny was a charter franchise of MLS in 1996. However, the league folded the franchise in 2001.
- St. Louis has been home to two NBA teams: the St. Louis Hawks, who moved to Atlanta, Georgia and became the Atlanta Hawks in 1968, and the St. Louis Bombers. St. Louis was also home to the American Basketball Association's Spirits of St. Louis before the ABA–NBA merger in 1976.
- The California Golden Seals of the NHL relocated to Cleveland for the 1976–77 season and were renamed the Barons. However, the team was merged into the Minnesota North Stars following the 1977–78 season.
- Pittsburgh had one of the founding members of what became the NBA: the Pittsburgh Ironmen; however they only played a single season (1946-47) before folding.
- The expansion Seattle SuperSonics of the NBA began play in 1967. However, in 2008 the team moved to Oklahoma City and were renamed the Oklahoma City Thunder.
- Kansas City had an NBA team from 1972-1985. The team originated in Rochester, New York in 1948 as the Rochester Royals before moving to Cincinnati, Ohio and becoming the Cincinnati Royals in 1957. The team moved and was known as the Kansas City-Omaha Kings from 1972 to 1975 because it played home games in both Kansas City, Missouri and Omaha, Nebraska. In 1975, the team played exclusively in Kansas City, and was known as the Kansas City Kings. The Kings moved to Sacramento, California in 1985.
- In 1974, the Kansas City Scouts were granted an NHL expansion franchise. However, the franchise became the Colorado Rockies in 1976 before settling on the east coast as the New Jersey Devils in 1982.
- San Diego has had two NBA franchises: the San Diego Rockets and the San Diego Clippers. The Rockets represented San Diego from 1967 until 1971 when they moved to Houston, Texas to become the Houston Rockets. Seven years later, the Buffalo Braves moved to town and were renamed the San Diego Clippers, where they played until 1984, when the team relocated to Los Angeles and became known as the Los Angeles Clippers.
- Baltimore was home to two NBA teams, both named the Bullets. The original Bullets played in the American Basketball League and NBA from 1944 to 1955. The second Baltimore Bullets team was founded in 1963, following the relocation of a prior Chicago-based franchise (the Zephyrs) to Maryland. For the next 11 seasons, the Bullets played in Baltimore before moving to Landover, Maryland, within the Washington metropolitan area. in 1973. They played under the "Capital Bullets" and "Washington Bullets" names before becoming the Wizards in 1997.
- Baltimore was granted a CFL expansion franchise in 1994, the Baltimore Stallions, which relocated to Montreal after the 1995 season to become the Montreal Alouettes.
- The Cincinnati Royals were a NBA team originally founded as the Rochester Royals before moving to Cincinnati in 1957. Upon moving to Kansas City, Missouri, the team was renamed the Kansas City-Omaha Kings. In 1975, the team ceased playing games in Omaha, Nebraska, and became known as the Kansas City Kings. The team is currently known as the Sacramento Kings.
- The Green Bay Packers played a portion of their home schedule in Milwaukee on a regular basis from 1933 until 1994.
- The Buffalo Braves were a NBA team that moved to San Diego, California in 1978 to become the San Diego Clippers. In 1984, the Clippers franchise moved to Los Angeles, where they became the Los Angeles Clippers.
- Montreal was home to a Major League Baseball team, the Montreal Expos, beginning in 1969. However, the team moved to Washington, D.C. in 2005, where it was renamed as the Washington Nationals.
- The expansion Vancouver Grizzlies of the NBA began play in 1995, but moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 2001 to become the Memphis Grizzlies.
- Orlando City SC intends to begin playing in the 2015 MLS season.
- The city served as a temporary home for the New Orleans Saints during the 2005 NFL season due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina.
- The San Antonio Texans were a CFL team that played in 1995 CFL season before folding. They had relocated from Sacramento, California, where the team had been called the Sacramento Gold Miners.
- The Sacramento Gold Miners were a CFL expansion team based in Sacramento, California for two years before relocating and becoming the San Antonio Texans.
- The NFL's Houston Oilers relocated to Memphis for one season (as the Tennessee Oilers) in 1997 before moving to Nashville to become the Tennessee Titans.
- The Memphis Mad Dogs were a CFL expansion franchise existing for only the 1995 season.
- The Hamilton Tigers played in the NHL from 1920 - 1925. They relocated to New York City in 1926 to become the New York Americans.
- New York City FC and Orlando City SC will become the 19th and 20th MLS teams in 2015. Atlanta has also been granted an MLS team that will begin play in 2017 in a new stadium shared with the NFL franchise, the Atlanta Falcons. Los Angeles Football Club (working name) was awarded in 2014 and is scheduled to begin play in 2017, while the Miami MLS team was announced in 2014, with their launch pending due to a stadium agreement.
Teams by state/province/territory
The number of Big Four teams based on their home state is shown in the map below:
The number of Big Six teams based on their home state/province/territory is shown in the map below:
a Washington DC would have the 50th largest population if it were a state
b Toronto-based Rogers Communications currently has a sharing agreement with the Buffalo Bills to lease the team for one regular season game each year. It is not counted in this tally as a Toronto team per se.
c The New York Giants and Jets both play their home games at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey
d The New York Red Bulls play their home games in Red Bull Arena in New Jersey
e The Washington Redskins play their home games at FedEx Field in Maryland
f Sporting KC play their home games at Sporting Park in Kansas
- U.S. cities with teams from four major league sports
- List of auto racing tracks in the United States by city
- List of professional golf tournaments in the United States by city
- List of professional sports teams in the United States and Canada
- Major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada
- U.S. states without major sports teams
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- "Clubs". Major League Soccer. Retrieved March 26, 2011.
- "CFL.ca – Official site of the Canadian Football League". Canadian Football League. Retrieved March 26, 2011.
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- – MLSsoccer.com Press release
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- Associated Press (September 28, 2004). "Announcement will come Wednesday". ESPN.com.
- "Major League Soccer names Orlando City SC as 21st franchise, set for 2015 debut". Major League Soccer.
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- North American Pro Sports Teams – Lists every league that has operated in Canada and/or the United States. Grouped by city.