50 largest cities without a major sports team
In the lead-up to the 2017 NFL season, the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers — each franchise having returned to the City of Angels within the past calendar year — launched a social media campaign dubbed the “Battle for Los Angeles.” The two teams not only had to contend with each other for the attention of fans across the Southland, but with the plethora of other Los Angeles-based professional sports franchises in other leagues. Across football, basketball, baseball, hockey and soccer, L.A. has nine professional teams in the area, with a 10th on the way when the expansion MLS team — Los Angeles FC — debuts in 2018.
That’s a lot to take in for sports fans in the area, so much so that the overflow of sports options might have oversaturated the market. Whereas people in Los Angeles have too many pro teams to choose from, other cities aren’t so lucky. To remind Angelenos how lucky they are for their overload of rooting interests, here’s a look at the 50 largest American cities without a major sports franchise. We’ll focus on cities that don’t have a single NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS or WNBA franchise, ranking each by population, according to the 2016 U.S. Census.
#50. San Bernardino, California
- 2016 Population: 216,239
- Overall US Population Rank: #100
Best sports destinations: Baseball fans can watch the Inland Empire 66ers play at San Manuel Stadium. The 66ers have been the Class A-Advanced affiliate for the Los Angeles Angels since 2011.
#49. Boise, Idaho
- 2016 Population: 223,154
- Overall US Population Rank: #99
Best sports destinations: The Colorado Rockies’ Class A minor league affiliate — the Boise Hawks — play at Memorial Stadium as part of the Northwest League. The Boise State Broncos football team, famous for its blue turf field, stands as one of the most successful Group of Five programs in major college football.
#48. Richmond, Virginia
- 2016 Population: 223,170
- Overall US Population Rank: #98
Best sports destinations: The Washington Redskins have held their annual training camp in Richmond since 2013. The Richmond Flying Squirrels — the Double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants — have played in the city since 1972. The city also has a women’s professional football team: the Richmond Black Widows of the Women’s Football Alliance. Richmond also has two universities that compete at the Division I level of the NCAA: the University of Richmond Spiders and the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams.
#47. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- 2016 Population: 227,715
- Overall US Population Rank: #97
Best sports destinations: The LSU Tigers rule the sports world in Baton Rouge, particularly the school’s football program. The Southern University Jaguars also call the city home, competing in football at the FCS level.
#46. Fremont, California
- 2016 Population: 233,136
- Overall US Population Rank: #96
Best sports destinations: There are no professional teams located in Fremont, but there was a time when that appeared to be a possibility. The Oakland Athletics have long been rumored to be on the move, and talks of a new stadium in Fremont were tossed around in the mid-2000s. Those plans were halted in 2009, and Fremont residents must drive the 26 miles to Oakland to watch the A’s instead.
#45. Garland, Texas
- 2016 Population: 234,943
- Overall US Population Rank: #95
Best sports destinations: There are no college athletics in Garland, though the city is less than 20 miles from Dallas. The Garland High School Owls football team has a strong history, a point of pride in the football-crazed state.
#44. Hialeah, Florida
- 2016 Population: 236,387
- Overall US Population Rank: #94
Best sports destinations: Hialeah is home to the famed Hialeah Park Race Track, which holds quarter horse races. The venue opened in 1922 and is one of the oldest recreational facilities in Florida. It was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
#43. Gilbert, Arizona
- 2016 Population: 237,133
- Overall US Population Rank: #93
Best sports destinations: There aren’t any semi-professional or college teams located in Gilbert, so sports fans in the area have to cling to teams in the Phoenix area. Thankfully, downtown Phoenix is just 22 miles away.
#42. Chesapeake, Virginia
- 2016 Population: 237,940
- Overall US Population Rank: #92
Best sports destinations: There are no professional sports franchises in the entire state of Virginia. The closest to pro sports residents of Chesapeake can get is via the Norfolk Tides — the Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. The Tides play just six miles from Chesapeake at Harbor Park as members of the International League.
#41. Irving, Texas
- 2016 Population: 238,289
- Overall US Population Rank: #91
Best sports destinations: Irving was the site of Texas Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys from 1971 to 2008. The team moved to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas — about 15 miles away — in 2009, and Texas Stadium was demolished in 2010. Irving is also the site of the Big 12 Conference’s headquarters, though there are no member schools located in the city.2018 All rights reserved.