The National Football League is far and away the biggest sports league in all of North American professional sports. Viewership in the United States grows with every NFL season, and the league continues to spread all around the world. NFL RedZone has become an international sensation and has helped turn casual observers into fans who follow the NFL, and that station combined with fantasy football has helped make the NFL a coveted property among television executives in the US and overseas. While there is no question that the NFL is far from a flawless business, those who are forecasting the demise of the league are, to put it bluntly, far off.
There are a plethora of cities in the United States and in other countries that would happily welcome a moved or expansion NFL franchise with open arms. At least a couple of those cities could be home to a team in the near future. We could, a decade or even sooner than that from now, find ourselves watching an NFL club play home games overseas, and some within the league are convinced that the NFL is headed in that very direction. The NFL is already a global brand thanks to streaming websites and television deals, and expanding overseas could prove to be worth billions of dollars in profits if the league is able to complete that move.
10 Mexico City
We start with a city that may not have come to your mind at first. The truth of the matter is that Mexico City has everything the NFL could desire from a city. Mexico City has the population needed to support multiple sports franchises. Putting an NFL team there would give the league additional international audiences without having to worry about time zones and travel across oceans. The truth of the matter is that Mexico City makes more sense, on paper, than does the NFL putting a third team somewhere in the state of Texas. Get on this idea, NFL executives.
It has become commonplace for Montreal to be mentioned by analysts and by fans whenever discussions about Major League Baseball expanding or moving a team arise. Here is a thought: The NFL should beat MLB to the punch. It is seemingly automatically assumed that Toronto would be the destination if the NFL did choose to put a team in Canada. Why does that absolutely have to be the case? Montreal remains a great sports town regardless of what happened with the Expos, and the city should have more than the Canadiens to rely on for its sports fixes.
One has to wonder, if the NFL could go back in time and redo things, would the league put the Jaguars in Orlando rather than in Jacksonville? Orlando is, no offence meant to those who live in Jacksonville, a better tourist destination. Orlando City Soccer Club serves as proof that sports fans in the Orlando region will spend money to follow a local sports team. A franchise owner would probably have to be willing to put a dome on a newly-built stadium for home games that take place in August and September, but that shouldn't be a problem for any entity that can afford an NFL club.
Just think of the possibilities of what could be if the NFL were to put a franchise in Portland. Portland and Seattle are great natural rivals, and the Seattle Seahawks would instantly become the most hated pro team in Portland if Portland was to have its own NFL franchise. Look at how well the Portland Timbers have done since joining Major League Soccer. An NFL team would be even more successful, and it would be embraced by fans in the region. Heck, the Timbers could even play a few home games at the new NFL stadium as the Sounders do in Seattle.
6 San Antonio
Remember when it was rumored that the Oakland Raiders could move to San Antonio rather than to Los Angeles or Las Vegas? There were several reasons why that was the case. Texas is arguably the top state in the country as it pertains to fans attending football games, and the Houston Texans have thrived over the past decade and a half. There may be concerns about the Dallas Cowboys and Texans losing some fans to a shiny new toy that would be a franchise going to San Antonio, but there are more than enough football fans in the region for everybody to profit and sell games out.
While there are sports franchises within driving distance of Louisville, it is strange that the city does not have any big-league team. There is no question that college sports and pro sports are different in many aspects, but local fans have gone out of the way to embrace college athletics in the area. Why would anybody believe that would not happen if an NFL team were to one day be dropped in Louisville? Louisville may not be perceived to be a major media market when combined with cities such as New York or Los Angeles, but an NFL team in the city would sell out every game for years and years to come.
American football fans living in Toronto were likely bummed to learn that the owner of the Buffalo Bills currently has no plans to move the team anywhere, let alone up north to Toronto. This does not mean, however, that the NFL should completely abandon Toronto. Toronto is a tremendous sports town, one that would support a winning NFL franchise if one were to fall into its lap. It has been widely speculated that the NFL wants to expand overseas, and that expansion may happen within a decade or so. The NFL would be wise to not forget about the league's friends in Toronto.
3 Oklahoma City
Some people may have had doubts about the NBA moving the Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City. While Seattle probably deserves to have a franchise all of its own, there is no question that the Oklahoma City Thunder have thrived since making that transition. Truth be told, Oklahoma City has left no doubt that it would embrace an NFL franchise if given the chance. Say, for argument's sake, that the Jacksonville Jaguars do relocate one day but do not make the move overseas to the next city on the list. Putting the Jaguars in Oklahoma City could make all kinds of sense for the NFL.
The very first thing that every logical person should have realized when Tottenham Hotspur and the NFL put pen to paper on a ten-year deal is that the NFL has an idea in mind on where it would put a franchise in Europe. Regular season NFL games already take place in England on a yearly basis, and even more games will be played overseas once the new Tottenham stadium opens for business. Unless the NFL changes course and moves in a different direction, a franchise will eventually land in London. Here is hoping that team has more success than Tottenham; sorry, fellow Spurs supporters.
1 Las Vegas
If certain rumors and reports are accurate, Las Vegas will be the home of an NFL franchise before the end of the decade. We could soon be seeing the Raiders making a move to Las Vegas, or maybe the San Diego Chargers will pick up and head a little bit east. Las Vegas has been calling for a pro sports franchise literally for decades, and US sports leagues embracing gambling, particularly daily and weekly fantasy football websites, means that not having a team in Las Vegas is more illogical than ever. Sit tight, Las Vegas football fans. Your future football team is coming.