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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.
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.
|Metropolitan Area||Media Market|
4 teams since
|NFL Team(s)||MLB Team(s)||NBA Team(s)||NHL Team(s)|
|Boston, Massachusetts||7||1960||Patriots (Foxborough, MA)||Red Sox||Celtics||Bruins|
|Dallas–Fort Worth, Texas||5||1993||Cowboys (Arlington, TX)||Rangers (Arlington, TX)||Mavericks (Dallas)||Stars (Dallas)|
|Detroit, Michigan||11||1957||Lions||Tigers||Pistons (Auburn Hills, MI)||Red Wings|
|Miami, Florida||16||1993||Dolphins (Miami Gardens, FL)||Marlins||Heat||Panthers (Sunrise, FL)|
|Minneapolis–St. Paul, Minnesota||15||2000||Vikings (Minneapolis)||Twins (Minneapolis)||Timberwolves (Minneapolis)||Wild (St. Paul)|
|New York City, New York||1||1946||Giants (East Rutherford, NJ)|
Jets (East Rutherford, NJ)
Islanders (Uniondale, NY)
Devils (Newark, NJ)
|Phoenix, Arizona||13||1998||Cardinals (Glendale, AZ)||Diamondbacks||Suns||Coyotes (Glendale, AZ)|
|San Francisco Bay Area, California||6||1991||49ers (Santa Clara)|
|Giants (San Francisco)|
|Warriors (Oakland)||Sharks (San Jose)|
|Washington, DC||8||2005||Redskins (Landover, MD)||Nationals||Wizards||Capitals|
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 Washington, D.C. area, three of the teams play in Washington, D.C. and one plays in nearby Landover, Maryland a neighborhood on the core city's subway line. 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.
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).
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, which 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 Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson-Asheville (SC/NC) area.
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 sports is the Las Vegas Valley area. But Las Vegas, the U.S.'s sports gambling capital, is unlikely to get a franchise because American professional sports interests refuse to have any open connection to the gambling industry. Currently the Hartford, CT - Springfield, MA metropolitan region ranks 2nd (although it once hosted the Hartford Whalers NHL team, and currently is the home to ESPN, the world's largest sports media conglomerate,) and the Hampton Roads metro area (near Norfolk, Virginia) ranks third.
The most populous metropolitan area that lacks a team in one of the four major sports is the Greater Los Angeles Area, whose 17,877,006 people makes it the country's second-largest. This area has two baseball teams (the Dodgers and Angels), two basketball teams (the Lakers and Clippers), and two hockey teams (the Kings and Ducks), but has not had an NFL franchise since 1995, when both of its franchises moved (the Raiders to Oakland and the Rams to St. Louis). Los Angeles is also the only metro area to have major-league baseball, basketball, and hockey teams, but none in football. Like New York, the Greater Los Angeles Area had two teams in each sport after the NHL awarded the expansion Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (now the Anaheim Ducks) and before the departure of the football teams. In 1999, the NFL wanted to grant its 32nd franchise to Los Angeles, but no workable ownership and stadium plan materialized, while Houston (which had lost its NFL franchise in a controversial move as well) presented such a plan and was awarded the Houston Texans franchise. Houston, which lacks an NHL team, is the second-largest metropolitan area that does not have a franchise in all four major professional sports.
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.
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. Four of the metro area's nine major-sports franchises play outside the city limits: the NFL's Jets and Giants, and the NHL's Devils all play in New Jersey; the NHL's Islanders play in Uniondale (though they are currently planning to move to 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.
The most recent city to be added to this list is Washington, D.C., which hosts the Nationals, formerly the Montreal Expos. Washington had not had an MLB team since 1972, when the Senators moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth area as the Texas Rangers.
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.
After the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, on May 31, 2011, Georgia became the most populous state without teams in all four sports. Metro Atlanta became the third-largest metro area not to have teams in all four sports (after Los Angeles and Houston). Georgia is now home to the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, the Atlanta Braves of MLB, 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.
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.
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 third-largest city in North America without an NFL team, but the NFL insists it has no plans for expansion. The NFL currently allows the Buffalo Bills to play one regular-season game a year at Toronto's Rogers Centre, 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; however, future games may be scheduled during the CFL season as Argonauts-Bills doubleheaders. How such a doubleheader would work is an issue that would need to be resolved in that case, since CFL's field dimensions differ from NFL's.
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 league 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 B.C. Lions and MLS's Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Cities that have lost, then regained four-sport status are Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis–St. Paul, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Atlanta.
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 in the United States was founded in 1993, and had been active since 1996. Of the 12 metro areas with Big 4 teams, eight also host MLS franchises as well.
MLS teams that play outside city limits are indicated in italics, followed by their locations of play.
|Metropolitan Area||Media Market|
|Since||MLB Team(s)||NFL Team(s)||NBA Team(s)||NHL Team(s)||MLS Team(s)|
|Boston, Massachusetts||7||1996||Red Sox||Patriots (Foxborough, MA)||Celtics||Bruins||Revolution (Foxborough, MA)|
|Bears||Bulls||Blackhawks||Fire (Bridgeview, IL)|
|Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex, Texas||5||1996||Rangers (Arlington, TX)||Cowboys (Arlington, TX)||Mavericks||Stars||FC Dallas (Frisco, TX)|
|Denver, Colorado||16||1996||Rockies||Broncos||Nuggets||Avalanche||Rapids (Commerce City, CO)|
|New York, New York||1||1996||Mets|
|Giants (East Rutherford, NJ)|
Jets (East Rutherford, NJ)
Islanders (Uniondale, NY)
Devils (Newark, NJ)
|Red Bulls (Harrison, NJ)|
New York City FC [planned for 2015]
|Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||4||2010||Phillies||Eagles||76ers||Flyers||Union (Chester, PA)|
|San Francisco Bay Area, California||6||2008||Giants (San Francisco, CA)|
|49ers (San Francisco)|
|Warriors (Oakland)||Sharks (San Jose)||Earthquakes (Santa Clara, CA)|
|Washington, D.C.||8||2005||Nationals||Redskins (Landover, MD)||Wizards||Capitals||D.C. United|
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 a MLS expansion team, Miami MLS team, scheduled to begin playing in 2017.
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 once held four-sport status, only Los Angeles and Kansas City have current MLS franchises; none has had four-sport status since MLS operations began. Both of Los Angeles's MLS franchises play outside of city limits, in Carson.
No Ohio city can claim five-sport (or four-sport) status, but the state itself can via Cleveland & Columbus (as well as Cincinnati) sports teams with the Columbus Crew.
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. Once a year the Buffalo Bills play a game at Rogers Centre in Toronto.