U.S. cities with teams from four major league sports
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- Major League Baseball (MLB), consisting of the National League founded in 1876, and the American League founded in 1901
- National Hockey League (NHL), founded in 1917
- National Football League (NFL), founded in 1920
- National Basketball Association (NBA), founded in 1946
The New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolis in the country, is the only region with at least two teams in each major sports league, and is home to three NHL clubs.
- 1 Overview by city
- 2 Analysis
- 2.1 Principal city versus metropolitan areas
- 2.2 Smallest population with all four
- 2.3 Largest population without a team
- 2.4 Largest population without all four leagues represented
- 2.5 Cities with two teams from one of the four leagues
- 2.6 Two teams in each of the four leagues
- 2.7 Most recent city with a team from each league
- 2.8 States with all four leagues represented, but not in one metro area
- 2.9 Most populous state without all four sports leagues represented
- 2.10 Most populous state without a single major league team
- 2.11 Canadian cities
- 3 Cities formerly with teams in all four leagues
- 4 Major League Soccer
- 5 See also
- 6 Notes and references
- 7 External links
Overview by city
Italicized teams play outside the city limits of the metropolitan area's core city or cities; the specific location is given in parentheses. The core city or cities of a metropolitan area are identified in this reference.
Principal city versus metropolitan areas
Of these metropolitan areas, the only ones with a team in each sport that plays within the limits of its principal city are Chicago, Denver, and Philadelphia. In the Twin Cities area, three of the teams play in Minneapolis and one plays in St. Paul, although all four teams are named after the state of Minnesota, not the individual cities. In the San Francisco Bay Area, the core cities of Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose together have at least one NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL team, so even though not all teams are within the core cities, all four sports are represented in the core cities. All other areas have at least one sport represented solely by a team (or teams) that plays in a city's suburbs.
Smallest population with all four
The least-populous metropolitan area with at least one team in each of the four major sports is Denver, whose estimated population is 2,552,195. Additionally, Colorado is the least populous state to have a team in each major sport. However, Denver is the hub of an urban corridor of approximately 4.5 million people, and is the largest metropolitan area for about 600 miles (970 km).
Largest population without a team
The largest market area with no teams in the four major leagues is the Hartford & New Haven (Connecticut) area. Hartford was formerly home to the NHL's Whalers, who moved to Raleigh in 1997 and are now the Carolina Hurricanes.
The largest market area that has never had a team in the four major leagues is the West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce (Florida) area, though that is usually considered part of the territory of Miami area teams.
Using the Primary Statistical Areas defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, the most-populous metropolitan area (as of the 2010 U.S. Census) without a team in any of the four major leagues is the Las Vegas Valley area, although several professional teams do play there. On June 22, 2016, the NHL announced that a new expansion team would begin playing in Las Vegas in the 2017–18 hockey season. With that, the Hartford, CT - Springfield, MA metropolitan region, currently ranked second, and the Hampton Roads metro area, ranked third, will become the first and second largest metro areas without a major sports team.
According to a 2016 article on ThePostGame, after Las Vegas, the ten metro areas with the largest populations that do not have any major league sports teams are Albuquerque, Omaha, Honolulu, Providence, Birmingham, Hartford, Louisville, Virginia Beach, Austin, and Riverside–San Bernadino
Largest population without all four leagues represented
Following the relocation of the St. Louis Rams back to Los Angeles, Houston, which lacks an NHL team, became the largest metropolitan area that does not have a franchise in all four major professional sports. Los Angeles had been the largest area without all four leagues from 1995 to 2015.
Cities with two teams from one of the four leagues
The sport that most commonly has two teams in one metropolitan area is baseball, with multiple teams in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, Boston, St. Louis and Philadelphia also had two baseball franchises (New York had 3 during this time), but one team from each city moved in the 1950s. In 2006, Philadelphia was the largest television market without two baseball teams, with Dallas being the next-largest.
Two teams in each of the four leagues
The only area with at least two franchises in all four sports is New York, which is both the largest city and the largest metropolitan area in the United States. Three of the metro area's nine major sports franchises play outside the city limits and by extension, outside the State of New York: the NFL's Jets and Giants, and the NHL's Devils all play in New Jersey; the NHL's Islanders used to play in Uniondale though they have now moved to the New York City borough of Brooklyn in 2015. However, all teams retain "New York" in their name except the New Jersey Devils and Brooklyn Nets.
New York is also the only city to host at least one team in each sport throughout the entire period that MLB, the NHL, the NFL and the NBA have coexisted (1946 to the present).
Greater Los Angeles had at least two franchises in all four sports for two years, from the creation of the Anaheim Ducks in 1993 to the departure of both its NFL teams in 1995.
Most recent city with a team from each league
The most recent city to be added to this list is Los Angeles, which regained the Rams in 2016 after they had played the prior 21 seasons in St. Louis.
States with all four leagues represented, but not in one metro area
Among those states that have no metropolitan areas with all four sports, only Ohio has teams in all four major sports: the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns; MLB's Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians; the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers; and the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets, the only one located outside Cleveland and Cincinnati.
Most populous state without all four sports leagues represented
After the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg and became the Jets in 2011, Georgia became the most populous state without teams in all four sports. Metro Atlanta became the third-largest metro area (at the time) not to have teams in all four sports (after Los Angeles and Houston). With the return of the Los Angeles Rams in 2016, Atlanta became the second largest metro area without all four leagues behind Houston. Georgia is now home to the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, the MLB's Atlanta Braves, and the NBA's Atlanta Hawks, all of which currently play within the city limits of Atlanta. In 2017, the Braves will move outside the city limits to the Vinings/Smyrna area in Cobb County, which is still within the metro area.
Previously, North Carolina had been the most populous state without teams in all four sports, having edged out New Jersey when the southern state's population surpassed the northern one's. Both lack a Major League Baseball team, though three teams (the New York Yankees, New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies) play in metropolitan areas that include parts of New Jersey. North Carolina is home to the NFL's Carolina Panthers and NBA's Charlotte Hornets, who both play in Charlotte, as well as the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes, who play in Raleigh. New Jersey is home to the NFL's New York Giants and New York Jets, who play in the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, as well as the NHL's New Jersey Devils, who play in Newark.
Most populous state without a single major league team
Virginia remains the most populous state without a single big-league team in any sport, although Northern Virginia residents, whose communities form much of the Washington, D.C. suburbs, have access to teams in Washington, D.C. and, at a stretch, Baltimore; and southern Virginia residents have access to the Carolina Hurricanes, the only major-league team in the Raleigh-Durham area. Additionally, two of the four D.C.-area teams, the Washington Capitals and Washington Redskins, have their operational headquarters and training facilities in Northern Virginia.
Iowa is the most populous state without either a major-league team or part of a media market area which has a major-league team.
Three of the four major leagues (MLB, the NBA and the NHL), have at least one team in Canada. Thus, although it is not a U.S. city, Toronto is notable because it has MLB (Blue Jays), NBA (Raptors), NHL (Maple Leafs) and MLS (Toronto FC) teams, plus a professional football team, the Toronto Argonauts. The Argonauts play in the Canadian Football League, which is currently an all-Canadian circuit, although the CFL had teams in the United States from 1993 until 1995. Calling the CFL a major league would be problematic since its lack of a U.S.-based team leaves it with a much smaller revenue base than the NFL. There has often been speculation of an NFL team in Toronto, which is larger than many NFL cities and the second-largest city in North America (behind Mexico City) without an NFL team, but the NFL insists it has no plans for expansion. The NFL allowed the Buffalo Bills to play one regular-season game a year at Toronto's Rogers Centre for several years in the early 21st century, as the Bills' profits depend on a considerable Southern Ontario fan base. The first two games in the Toronto series did not directly conflict with the CFL, as they were scheduled for December, after the end of the CFL season. The series was put on hiatus after the 2013 season; current Bills owner Terry Pegula, who bought the team after the 2014 death of founding owner Ralph Wilson, formally ended the Toronto experiment.
There are a further two Canadian cities which formerly had two major league teams plus a CFL franchise.
Montreal, the second-most populous Canadian city, had the Montreal Expos MLB team, which moved to Washington, D.C. It still hosts the NHL's Canadiens and the CFL's Alouettes. Montreal also once had an NFL farm team, the WLAF Montreal Machine, before the WLAF became exclusively European. Additionally, Montreal is home to Canada's third MLS team, the Montreal Impact since 2012.
Vancouver, the third-most populous Canadian metropolitan area, had the Vancouver Grizzlies NBA team, which moved to Memphis. It still hosts the NHL's Vancouver Canucks, CFL's BC Lions and MLS's Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Cities formerly with teams in all four leagues
- St. Louis was briefly a four-sport city (MLB's Cardinals, NFL's Cardinals, NBA's Hawks, and NHL's Blues) from the 1967 NHL expansion until the Hawks left for Atlanta the following year.
- Kansas City had all four sports (MLB's Royals, NFL's Chiefs, NBA's Kings, and NHL's Scouts) from 1974 to 1976. After two unsuccessful years in Kansas City, the Scouts moved to Denver (and later to New Jersey). The Kings moved to Sacramento in 1985.
- Cleveland briefly held four-sport status (MLB's Indians, NFL's Browns, NBA's Cavaliers, and NHL's Barons) when the Oakland Seals moved there in 1976 as the Cleveland Barons, only to lose it when the Barons merged with the Minnesota North Stars (currently the Dallas Stars) in 1978. The original Browns relocated to Baltimore to become the Ravens in 1996; however, Cleveland regained NFL football in 1999.
- Atlanta featured teams from all four sports from 1972 to 1980, as the home of the NHL's Flames (the team moved to Calgary) and from 1999 to 2011, as home of the Thrashers (who relocated to Winnipeg).
Cities that have lost, then regained four-sport status are Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis–St. Paul, and the San Francisco Bay Area.
- Boston had the Yanks of the NFL at the start of the four-major-sport era in 1946, along with the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, and Braves. Four-sport status ended when the Yanks became the New York Bulldogs in 1949, and then resumed with the formation of the New England Patriots in 1960.
- Detroit had a charter franchise of the NBA when it was called the Basketball Association of America at the start of the four-major-sport era in 1946. It folded after one season; Detroit rejoined the four-sport club when the Fort Wayne Pistons moved to Detroit in 1957.
- Chicago had a BAA/NBA team fold in 1950, then attracted an expansion franchise in 1961 only to see it move to Baltimore two years later. Chicago rejoined the four-sport club in 1966 with the expansion Bulls.
- The San Francisco Bay Area had teams in all four sports from the NHL expansion in 1967 until the Seals departed for Cleveland in 1976. It regained four-sport status when the expansion San Jose Sharks joined the NHL in 1991. Oakland alone had a grand slam without help from San Francisco from 1971 (when the Golden State Warriors moved to Oakland) to 1976.
- Minneapolis–St. Paul became a member with the arrival of the Minnesota Timberwolves as an expansion NBA franchise in 1989, only to see the NHL's North Stars depart for Dallas in 1993. The Twin Cities regained their status with the NHL's expansion Minnesota Wild in 2000.
- Greater Los Angeles became a four-sport city in 1967 and remained so for 28 years. In fact, for two years (1993–1995) it joined New York as the only cities with two teams in each of the four major sports (MLB's Dodgers and Angels, NFL's Rams and Raiders, NBA's Lakers and Clippers, and NHL's Kings and Ducks). However, Los Angeles lost both of its NFL teams in 1995. The Rams moved back to Los Angeles in 2016, restoring the city to four-sport status.
If the American Basketball Association (1967–1976) is considered to have been a major professional sports league, additional cities formerly made the list. In addition to the MLB Pirates, the NFL Steelers and the NHL Penguins; Pittsburgh also hosted the ABA's Pittsburgh Condors, originally called the Pipers, in 1967 and from 1969 until the team's demise in 1972. Similarly, if the ABA is counted, St. Louis would have regained four-sport status between 1974 and 1976, as the city was home to the Spirits of St. Louis. Also, Minneapolis–St. Paul was a four-sport city from 1967 to 1969 as they hosted the ABA's Minnesota Muskies in 1967–68 and the Minnesota Pipers in 1968–69.
If the World Hockey Association (1972–1979) is considered to have been a major league, Houston would have made the list; the Houston Aeros operated from 1972 to 1978, but were ultimately left out of the NHL-WHA merger negotiations and folded before the merger. Under the same assumption, Cleveland would have joined the four-sports club in 1972 with the arrival of the WHA Cleveland Crusaders, which were displaced in 1976 by the NHL's Barons.
If the ABA and WHA are both considered to have been major leagues, then San Diego would have made the list from Fall 1974 through Fall 1975. Alongside the MLB Padres (1969 to date) and the AFL/NFL Chargers (1961 to date), there were the ABA Conquistadors/Sails (1972-1975) and the WHA Mariners (1974-1977).
Major League Soccer
Major League Soccer in the United States was founded in 1993, and has been active since 1996. Of the 13 metro areas with Big Four teams, 9 also host MLS franchises as well. Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis–St. Paul, and Phoenix currently do not have Major League Soccer teams, though expansion teams for Miami and Minnesota are planned.
MLS teams that play outside city limits are indicated in italics, followed by their locations of play.
One other metropolitan area with teams in the four larger leagues also previously held five-sport status, Miami (Miami Fusion). Miami will resume being a five-sport city with an approved MLS expansion team.
The San Francisco Bay Area lost five-sport status after the Earthquakes moved to Houston to become the Dynamo in 2006 but regained it with the reactivated Earthquakes in 2008.
Of cities that formerly held four-sport status, only Kansas City has a current MLS franchise and Atlanta will join them in 2017 when the expansion Atlanta United FC begins play.
No Ohio city can claim five-sport (or four-sport) status, but the state itself can via Cleveland and Columbus (as well as Cincinnati) sports teams with Columbus Crew SC.
The debut of MLS's Toronto FC in 2007 gives Toronto five professional sports teams, although its football team plays in the Canadian Football League.
- Multiple major sports championship seasons
- List of American and Canadian cities by number of major professional sports franchises
- List of major professional sports teams in the United States and Canada
Notes and references
- Nielsen DMA Rankings
- "Population and Housing Occupancy Status: 2010 - United States -- Combined Statistical Area; and for Puerto Rico". United States Census Bureau. 2010. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- Belson, Ken (June 22, 2016). "With N.H.L. Expansion, Las Vegas Hits the Jackpot: A Pro Team", The New York Times. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
- "American FactFinder". Factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
- "10 Largest U.S. Markets Without a Major Pro Sports Team", ThePostGame, June 15, 2016. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
- "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2008". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
- "Commissioner announces Toronto plan for Bills". National Football League. Associated Press. 2008-02-01. Retrieved 2008-02-08.