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)
There have been no NFL traveling teams since 1952, owing to the increased stability of the league. Even in cases when an NFL team's home stadium has been rendered unusable due to damages or renovations, the teams have arranged and designated temporary home stadiums in each case and no NFL team has had to play more than two designated home games (out of eight in a season) outside their home stadium. Recently some "home" games have been played in London's Wembley Stadium as part of the NFL International Series. Some teams have even appeared as a "home" team in London in consecutive years.
The Canadian Football League has had two road teams. The first was 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. The second was the 2015 Toronto Argonauts; the Argonauts experienced multiple schedule conflicts at their home stadium, the Rogers Centre, which also hosted the 2015 Pan American Games and the Toronto Blue Jays that season, allowing only half of their ten home games to be played at the Centre and games to be moved to places such as Hamilton, Ottawa and Fort McMurray, Alberta. The Argonauts' scheduled move to BMO Field for the 2016 season is expected to resolve these scheduling issues.
Traveling teams in baseball
Traveling teams have existed at many times in baseball history, even into the 21st century. Traveling teams are periodically used by independent baseball leagues to maintain an even number of teams for scheduling purposes. Examples include the Road Warriors of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, the Frontier Greys of the Frontier League, and The Grays of the Can-Am League.
In 1994, after a roof collapse occurred at the Kingdome, Major League Baseball's 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.
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- 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
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- Las Vegas loses CFL team. New York Times. 22 October 1994.
- Argonauts release statement regarding Oct. 17 home game
- "OCTOBER 6 GAME MOVED TO OTTAWA". Toronto Argonauts. 2015-09-16. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
- No joke, CFL schedule takes turn for bizarre in 2015