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States with Major League Pro Sports Teams


B-Rich

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Bored at work and trying to pass the time before I leave and go to the Pelicans-Spurs game....Just something I was thinking about and did a quick visual of.

 

With the recent NHL expansion to Las Vegas (as well as proposed move of the Raiders to that locale) we've added not only another city/metro area to the ranks of major league pro sports, but another STATE to those ranks.  A quick look at a map shows that such states are now the majority (26 states with major league teams; 27 if you include DC):

US Pro Team state map.JPG

 

If you were to include states "included" in regional names (New England, Carolina) as as well as states immediately bordering host cities (Kansas for Kansas City, Kentucky for Cincinnati, Arkansas and Mississippi for Memphis, and Virginia for DC) the number is even higher: 38 states are "represented", and only 12 are not:

US PRO TEAM MAP 2.JPG

 

 

Going back in time, it is interesting to see the changes. In 1989, shortly after the NBA 80's expansion, there were only two less states represented than now-- 24 states (proper, not including regions or bordering cities). You have Connecticut in there at that time (Hartford Whalers), but not Tennessee, Oklahoma or Nevada.

US MAP 1989.JPG

 

 

 

1969, twenty years earlier, just before the addition of the Portland Trail Blazers.  20 states; you have Kentucky in there at this time (Kentucky Colonels, ABA):

 

US MAP 1969.JPG

 

 

The last one is the real kicker, 1959 - before all the big expansions of the 1960s. Only 11 states had pro sports teams:US Map 1959.JPG

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26 will probably be the max, too.  About the only two states I could see getting a pro team in the somewhat-distant future would be Kentucky (Louisville getting a basketball franchise) and Virginia (baseball).  Don't see Hartford ever getting hockey back, and the rest of the pro-less states just have no chance, and are likely happy with college sports and minor league teams.

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It's an interesting look at history.

 

I think a surprise might be South Carolina and New Mexico. If I were to guess a future host, it'd be one of those two. New Mexico simply because of the growth of the southwest probably won't stop for the foreseeable future. And Albuquerque is growing. South Carolina for similar reasons that North Carolina and Georgia are growing. They're south, but not the 'deep south' like Mississippi and Alabama.

 

If Walmart had been founded in Little Rock and U of Arkansas was in Little Rock instead of Fayetteville, Arkansas would've been a major league spot for NBA or NHL by now. Just as it took years for Nashville (over Memphis) to get a team, Arkansas is done in by geography. Had they had the 'perfect storm' of 'major corporate headquarters', 'major university' and 'state capital' all in the same vicinity, the number of people would've been closer to the likes of Columbus or Indianapolis. Instead, you get the far northwest part of the state isolated, and central part of the state just too small to handle a major league team because of it.

 

Everyone talks about Louisville getting NBA.... but the best venue there is basically controlled by U of Louisville, who will see an NBA team as a competitor. The Cards are top dogs there, I can't imagine them being happy to lose the market to an NBA team. Would Ohio State be happy if the NFL suddenly dropped an expansion team in Columbus?

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7 hours ago, Sykotyk said:

It's an interesting look at history.

 

I think a surprise might be South Carolina and New Mexico. If I were to guess a future host, it'd be one of those two. New Mexico simply because of the growth of the southwest probably won't stop for the foreseeable future. And Albuquerque is growing. South Carolina for similar reasons that North Carolina and Georgia are growing. They're south, but not the 'deep south' like Mississippi and Alabama.

The hell they aren't.

 

Take away any sports reference and you wouldn't be able to differentiate Columbia from Montgomery, Charleston from Mobile or Biloxi, Greenville from Jackson, etc.

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New Mexico's economy has been in the toilet since the recession and its growth has stagnated.

 

Current government policies at the state and national level are unlikely to facilitate a rebound, and the state lacks the resources to attract business.

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On ‎1‎/‎27‎/‎2017 at 8:30 PM, Gothamite said:

Hey, go back another decade and California drops out.  It becomes the Northeast-Midwest Show. 

Actually, you'd have to go back further than that.  The 1949 map would've been the same as 1959.  The Rams had been in L.A. since 1946; the 49ers were in the AAFC in 1949 before switching over to the NFL in 1950,  the "original" Colts were in Baltimore in 1949 prior to them joining the NFL in 1950 (albeit only for only 1 year), and the Lakers were in Minneapolis.

 

The talk about other states "might have" or maybe eventually being in the bigs makes me think about which ones at one point are another WERE in the major leagues, at least ones that merged into existing leagues.  Of course there was Connecticut (Hartford Whalers), and Kentucky (in the early days of the NFL, MLB; and most recently the ABA at the time of the merger, when they had a real shot at entering the NBA), Virginia (ABA Squires), and there was Alabama (Birmingham, with the WHA Bulls).  Birmingham in the 70s and early 80s also seemed to always be knocking at the door of (NFL) pro football, with teams in the WFL and USFL, the Birmingham Americans/Vulcans (and Memphis Southmen/Grizzlies) requesting to be admitted to the NFL when the when the WFL folded, and the crazy rumor of the Dolphins moving there in the late 70s (I remember Jimmy the Greek making a comment to that effect on The NFL Today way back then-- turns out it was a lot of nothing--see: https://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=DS19770301.2.91).... There was also the WLAF Fire and CFL Barracudas, but I think those two teams only showed that Birmingham's time as a possible NFL (or any other major league) team has clearly passed.

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13 minutes ago, B-Rich said:

Actually, you'd have to go back further than that.  The 1949 map would've been the same as 1959. 

 

Check that, it would actually have one more state for sure-- Indiana.  The Pistons were in their original home of Ft. Wayne both for the 1948-49 season and the 49-50 season,

 

The Indianapolis Jets were also in the BAA in the 1948-49 season, as were the Providence Steamrollers, so there is an argument that Rhode Island would be in for 1949 as well.

 

Also, forgot the NBA Bullets were in Baltimore back then, too, solidifying Maryland as a major league state at that time.

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Crud, the original Denver Nuggets played in the NBL in 1948-49 and the 1st year of the NBA in 1949-50.  Add Colorado to 1949.

 

And the Waterloo Hawks also played in the NBL in 1948-49 and the 1st year of the NBA in 1949-50 (only major league pro team Iowa has ever had).  Add Iowa to 1949.

 

So arguably, 1949 actually had 15 states represented.  Wow.

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13 hours ago, B-Rich said:

Crud, the original Denver Nuggets played in the NBL in 1948-49 and the 1st year of the NBA in 1949-50.  Add Colorado to 1949.

 

And the Waterloo Hawks also played in the NBL in 1948-49 and the 1st year of the NBA in 1949-50 (only major league pro team Iowa has ever had).  Add Iowa to 1949.

 

So arguably, 1949 actually had 15 states represented.  Wow.

 

Very true, although it's arguable as to whether the NBA really qualified as a major league in 1949.   I'd say they were a lot less important politically, economically, and culturally at the time than, say, MLS is today. 

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Basketball was just a few decades behind football, that had a similar beginning. Mostly regional, a lot of small cities mixed with big cities. It took about 15 years to slough off the small towns (other than Green Bay that has extenuating circumstances for surviving). Basketball had a similar trajectory. Teams in Syracuse, Rochester, Fort Wayne, etc weren't much different than NFL teams in their early years in Toledo, Dayton, Akron, Portsmouth, Rock Island, etc.

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If you count MLS as 'major league', Kansas is taken via Sporting KC playing across the border.

 

Odds are, HI, AK, ID, MT, ND, SD, IA, WV, DE, CT, RI, VT, NH, and ME aren't going to ever have teams. For all the talk of Hartford getting their Whalers back, the NHL seems deadset on trying to expand outward form the north/northeast, and dropping another team between Boston/NYR/NYI/NJ isn't likely.

 

Rhode Island and Connecticut were off-the-wall ideas when the Patriots were considering where to build what would become GIllette Stadium.  The three New England states of VT, NH, ME probably will never see a pro team. Population is not increasing in those areas near as fast as it is in some underserved areas of the contry.

 

Delaware might only attract a team if a Philadelphia team in the distant future is looking to move out of Philadelphia and were to get a sweetheart deal. But, with modern stadium design angling toward 'near the city center' (though Atlanta is bucking that trend), it's probably not going to happen.

 

Virginia falls in the same category. The Hampton Roads/Tidewater area probably could support a major team. But, in all likelihood, the best bet is if one of the "DC" teams ever moves south of the border. But, as long as the Tidewater/Chesapeake/Norfolk/etc area remains 'major league teamless', they're always a distant possibility.

 

The northern prairie states go without saying. Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and west to Idaho just don't have one big city that could host such a team. And those shale production in northern North Dakota is seeing an uptick, it's in an area of the state devoid of people to begin with and will probably never see that region ever grow enough, even a hundred years from now. Though, global warming might see it as the tropical resort destination by then, so who knows.

 

Kansas is pegged by MLS, but get the same general thought as Virginia. A KC team just has to move across the state line, for a new stadium, and it's done. Though, the Royals and Chiefs have a 'great' complex east of the city that will probably house their future stadiums if and when they ever build new ones and not just renovate.

 

Arkansas could support a team at some point if there's more growth. Sort of a Oklahoma City type situation where one team becomes the end-all/be-all of the state. But, with two competing metro areas, the capital and the booming region to the NW, their money is spread out. And with Memphis just east of there, it's doubtful NBA (the likeliest of leagues given startup costs and demographics) probably wouldn't step in.

 

Thirty years ago, most probably never thought of North Carolina as a major league host state. They had some times in big minor leagues and offshoot ventures like the WFL (Charlotte Stars), but it took the continual influx of people moving in to see it as a 'eh, it's not Florida, but it's warm a lot of the year' moving south. Between banking and insurance growth in the area, now there's two cities with major league teams in three of the major leagues.

 

South Carolina COULD do it, hell, they temporarily hosted the Panthers in Clemson, but they need to keep seeing their state, especially around Columbia, growing as a destination for northerners looking for better work, cheaper housing, and better weather. Maybe 20 years from now, they could. Plus, there's bound to be some eventual malaise from Georgians tired of the traffic nightmare known as Atlanta seeing a better, quieter, lazier  time away from the giant metropolis in an area like the stretch between Augusta and Columbia.

 

Alabama's best bet is Birmingham, but has seen alternative league after alternative league give it a shot and then fold. As with their neighbor, college football is king, so a football team would have the same issues as an NFL team in Columbus. Could they support an NFL team? Sure. Would they build a stadium? Probably not. Their best bet is basketball. Hockey's not really a southern sport and unlike the Florida teams, would fare as about as well as the Flames and Thrashers to the east.

 

Mississippi is in the same boat. No major cities. The economies aren't seeing the increases that states like Georgia or Texas have in the south. And there really isn't one major city capable of supporting a major league team. Jackson, Tupelo, and Biloxi aren't going to cut it. A possiblity is a Memphis team playing just south of the border.  There was talk long ago about the Saints moving to Biloxi and being a 'Gulf Coast' team without a real identifier of who they represent, akin to New England or "Golden State". But, LA ponied up the dough to keep them in the Superdome. And their best shot to flee was after Katrina and they stuck it out. And probably will never leave New Orleans or its suburbs ever at this point. Plus, New Orleans benefit the same way Las Vegas does, it's a tourist/destination city. Fans will travel to New Orleans when their team plays there because they can make it more than just the game.

 

And my thought for New Mexico is simply the same situation with Arizona, just on a slower boil. One major city really (Alubuquerque), one smaller city to the south-ish (Las Cruces), and a population expanding due to transplants not wanting to burn alive in Phoenix and businesses finding in New Mexico the same benefits they first found in Arizona. And with the higher elevations, the climate is better (and for northerners, there's still snow from time to time). And dust storms.

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