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Geography of Pro Sports in the U.S. and Canada

Posted: 04/27/00

The 120 professional hockey, football, basketball, and baseball teams of North America are divided among a mere forty-four metropolitan areas in the United States and Canada. In the U.S. alone, these teams reside in only thirty-eight of the forty-eight metros with a population above one million.

Map of Sports in the U.S. and Canada

More Maps: Baseball | Basketball | Football | Hockey

The Winners

Eight of the nine largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. have at least one team in each of the four sports (only Los Angeles lacks four sports). The densly populated East Coast is home to many of the professional sports teams of North America.

The United States' largest metropolitan area, the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island metropolitan area (with more than 20 million residents), is home to three NHL (National Hockey League) teams, two NBA (National Basketball Association) teams, two MLB (Major League Baseball) teams, and two NFL (National Football League) teams. It is truly the central place of sports teams in North America.

Denver, Colorado is the smallest metropolitan area (ranked 19th with a population 2,365,345) in the U.S. to have one team in each sport. Buffalo, New York (ranked 38th with a population of 1,152,541) is the smallest metro with two teams. Tiny Jacksonville, Florida (ranked 45th with a population of 1,044,684) is the smallest metro of over 1 million with any team at all - it's the home to the Jacksonville Jaguars, a NFL team.

Last but certainly not least among the "winners" is Green Bay, Wisconsin. It's a community of a mere 215,373 people yet it's home to the Packers - now that's impressive!

The Losers

The country's number two metropolitan area, Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County (population 15,781,273) lacks a professional football team, placing it in a category of all its own among the other eight largest metropolitan areas.

Houston, the country's tenth largest metro (population 4,407,579) only has two teams - the Astros (baseball) and the Rockets (basketball).

Poor Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News, VA-NC, it's the largest metropolitan area (ranked 27th with a population of 1,542,143) in the U.S. without any professional sports teams in the four leagues. It's home to 500,000 more people than #45 Jacksonville yet it still lacks a team of its own. Las Vegas (ranked 33rd with a population of 1,321,546) also suffers from having no teams at all.

Additionally, relatively large #22 Portland, Oregon and #25 Sacramento each only have one basketball team. A total of 25 of the 50 U.S. states have no teams at all (but then again, 25 states are home to at least one team.) Vast areas of the western U.S., from Idaho through the Dakotas and Nebraska have no teams. Denver, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Dallas-Fort Worth, and San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose serve as the central places for sports in the team-barren western United States as each of these metros has four teams each.

Take a look at the individual sport maps: Baseball | Basketball | Football | Hockey

Visit my Entertainment and Sports Geography category of links for more information about this topic.

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