In professional team sports, a traveling team (also called a road team) is a member of a professional league that never or rarely competes in its home arena or stadium. This differs from a barnstorming team in that the latter does not compete within a league or association framework. While leagues may designate a traveling team prior to the start of competition, some teams become road teams by simply not scheduling any home games.
While the use of traveling teams has been sparing on the upper levels of professional sports, the National Football League had such road teams (such as the Hammond Pros, Oorang Indians, and Columbus Panhandles) in the formative years of the league. Other professional sports leagues on the major league level have employed traveling teams, the most recent being World Team Tennis, with "The Soviets" nominally being based in Philadelphia.
Traveling teams in major professional American football
Below is a list of the traveling teams that were members of the National Football League, the first American Football League, or the second American Football League. No other major professional league of American football had such road teams, the last of which was the 1952 Dallas Texans of the National Football League. To qualify for the list, the team must have played a complete season of at least four games on the road. Teams that had the traveling team status imposed upon them in midseason are noted.
- Columbus Panhandles - 1920-22 (two home games out of 22 played)
- Hammond Pros - 1920-24 (one home game out of 24; became Akron Pros in 1925)
- Rochester Jeffersons - 1920, 1925 (no home games these two seasons - team active in NFL 1920-1925)
- Cincinnati Celts - 1921 (no home games out of four)
- Oorang Indians - 1922-23 (one home game out of 20)
- Columbus Tigers - 1924-26 (two home games out of 24)
- Dayton Triangles - 1924-29 (three home games out of 42)
- Kansas City Blues - 1925 (no home games out of eight)
- Los Angeles Buccaneers - 1926 (based in Chicago; no home games out of 10)
- Louisville Colonels - 1926 (no home games out of four)
- Los Angeles Wildcats (AFL I) - 1926 (based in Moline, Illinois; no home games out of 14, played one designated "home game" in Toronto and also had a post-season "home stand" in California in early 1927)
- Rock Island Independents (AFL) - 1926 (after three games at home, became a traveling team, playing remaining six games on the road)
- Duluth Eskimos - 1927 (no home games out of nine)
- Brooklyn Tigers (AFL II) - 1936 (sole home game as Brooklyn Tigers was moved from Ebbets Field to Yankee Stadium for a game with the New York Yankees; Tigers moved to Rochester for first actual home game (at Silver Stadium), then folded. Team played seven games total.)
- Dallas Texans - 1952 (after drawing poorly in five home games, the NFL declared them a road team, with one designated "home game" in Akron, Ohio. The last five games were on the road)
- Michigan Coyotes (Stars Football League)- Placed originally in Silverdome but converted into traveling team in 2011 due to the distance between Pontiac and the other southern teams.
Though there have been no NFL traveling teams since 1952, owing to the increased stability of the league, the 1973-75 New York Giants, 1997 Tennessee Oilers, 2002 Chicago Bears, 2005 New Orleans Saints and 2010 Minnesota Vikings were forced to temporarily move to alternate stadiums for various reasons. In the case of New Orleans, forced to move because of Hurricane Katrina, there was discussion of making the team a traveling team for the season (and, in fact, one of its designated home games was moved to Giants Stadium in New Jersey, the home stadium of its opponent), but because of concerns over home field advantage, alternate stadiums in Texas (San Antonio's Alamodome) and Louisiana (Baton Rouge's Tiger Stadium) accommodated the team instead for the rest of the season. All of these teams moved into permanent stadiums the next year.
The Canadian Football League has had only one road team, the Las Vegas Posse (a CFL USA team), which was converted into "road team" status for the last few weeks of the 1994 season. The team had drawn very poorly in Las Vegas (its last game drew less than 2,500 fans) and was folded at the end of the season.
Traveling teams in Major League Baseball
In 1994, after a roof collapse occurred at the Kingdome, the Seattle Mariners were forced to play the remainder of the season on the road after the player's union rejected a number of proposed temporary homes. However, the season was cut short due to a player's strike, which resulted in the Mariners playing only 20 games as a road team.
- David S. Neft, Richard S. Cohen, and Rick Korch, The Football Encyclopedia: The Complete Year-By-Year History of Professional Football From 1892 to the Present (St. Martin's Press 1994) ISBN 0-312-11435-4
- Race and Sport: The Struggle for Equality on and off the Field ISBN 1-57806-897-5
- Last Team Standing: How the Steelers and the Eagles - "The Steagles" - Saved Pro Football During World War II ISBN 0-306-81472-2
- Los Angeles Football Story from nfl.com
- Pigskin: The Early Years of Pro Football ISBN 0-19-511913-4
- Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League ISBN 0-06-039232-0
- The Landry Legend: Grace Under Pressure ISBN 0-8499-0728-4
- Las Vegas loses CFL team. New York Times. 22 October 1994.