By Eduardo Monk Jr.
Sports leagues are places driven by the growth and the quality of their rosters, whether it be more cities added and awarded franchises or the names on those teams growing in national spotlight and general adoration. So it goes without saying that whenever any league adds a whole new team, every fan, hardcore and casual, is put on notice. A good expansion can breathe completely new life into a stale season.
The NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights are the latest in a long line of expansions in sports history. But where to next for the world of professional athletics? Which cities deserve to have an pro sports team call home?
That’s the question I have been wondering for while now and I think it’s time to do something about it. For the next five days, Sporting Daily will be analyzing, researching and experimenting to determine the six finest cities to house a new franchise in the five major sports leagues, the NBA, NHL, MLB, NFL and MLS.
The NFL is slowly returning, with training camps starting to get rolling and the preseason mere weeks from returning. They haven’t expanded since 2002 with the Houston Texans, which looking back was quite the success. Roger Goodell has yet to expand the league so if he were to, which are the best cities to award an NFL franchise?
So here are the six best cities for an NFL team.
The Rams were first wrongfully taken from LA to St.Louis and after 20 years, were wrongfully taken back to LA. The Rams had no matter to be in St.Louis but the fans made it work. The Rams were among the more storied franchises in the league, with the legendary Greatest Show on Turf taking place in the city. The city has shown how much they love football and they deserve to have an NFL team call home.
The state of Oregon has proven time and time again their love of football through their University of Oregon Ducks’ football team. The city of Portland itself is a pretty big sports market in their own right despite having only the NBA’s Trail Blazers to cheer for. The fanbase is there for a football team in Portland and the chance for failure is extremely low.
Also just imagine the rivalry this team could have with the Seattle Seahawks. This could be one of the best rivalries in the league, with both cities only 174 miles away from each other and if the fanbase is what we expect, would have two of the most hardcore fan bases in the league against each other. This city has NFL team written all over it.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a massive football state and has shown an equally massive sport following through their NBA’s Thunder and the University of Oklahoma Sooners. Honestly, there isn’t much more needed to warrant an NFL team. There is an instant fan base ready, a rivalry with the Cowboys or Chiefs just waiting to happen and the city loves their sports. What more could Roger Goodell want?
The NFL should be capitalizing on the success of the University of Alabama Roll Tide and setting up an NFL team there. The south has a massive football market and setting up shop in the heart of it will without a doubt rake in a large fanbase in not just Alabama, but in nearly the entirety of the south. All the people in Bama really have are the Saints in Louisiana and Falcons in Georgia, but they don’t have a hometown squad.
Though Birmingham has a relatively tiny population, this team wouldn’t be limited to Alabama at all. This team has the potential to be the heart and soul of football in the south.
The NFL is the only major sports league without a team in Canada. I think it’s time to change that. There’s no doubt the country loves their football with the strong popularity of the CFL. Sending a team up north automatically brings in millions of more fans to the NFL, something Canadians otherwise avoid because they have their CFL. Obviously, the NFL will have to compete with the established CFL, but there’s little doubt an NFL team would straight up fail if in Canada. Not to mention there’s potential for league crossovers, something that could be great for the more international spotlight of the sport.
Mexico City, Mexico
There’s a good reason football isn’t a global sport yet. The NFL hasn’t done enough to spread the sport around the world. Ignoring the tragic Tlatelolco massacre, Mexico is one of the few countries that has partaken in the world of football before. In the early 19th century, football was almost as big there as it was in the US. Bringing NFL football to the country would almost certainly succeed and with the right marketing job, could absolutely blow up in the country.
With a game between the Raiders and Texans taking place in the country from a season ago, it’s clear the NFL is finally trying to expose the sport on a global level. And there’s no better place to start than our friends down in Mexico.