There are many cities in the United States that do not have a single professional sports team. Some of these cities could be very profitable for a franchise. These cities have large populations and are in an area that is miles and miles away from another pro sports team. Because of this, there would definitely be a fan base that would pay good money to attend games.
Some cities without a professional sports team have populations that number into the millions. Compare this to Green Bay, Wisconsin, the smallest city with a pro sports team. It is a ridiculous thought. Green Bay has a population of just 305,000 people. Somehow, the Packers sell out every single game. If this is the case in such a small city, why would some of the most populated cities in the country not have a team of their own?
In order to be a good location for a professional sports team a city typically needs a large population. Ideally, that population should be growing. The city needs to have a good number of media outlets in order to broadcast games. It is also very helpful to be in a geographic location that is far away from any other sports teams. This is especially true for two teams of the same sport. This will limit competition between the two cities and give a team a far reaching fan base to tap into.
Here are ten untapped U.S. sports markets that could potentially support a pro team.
10. Norfolk, Virginia
There are no professional sports teams in the state of Virginia. The city of Norfolk shares a metropolitan area with Virginia Beach. Together these two cities make up the state’s largest metropolitan area. Norfolk already hosts the first two rounds of the NCAA’s Women’s Final Four which shows there is an interest in basketball in the city. It has the world’s largest naval base and a large gender imbalance in favor of males. These two factors would make selling tickets pretty easy.
9. Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque has a metro area population of 902,797; the largest of any city in New Mexico. Like Virginia, the state of New Mexico has no sports teams. In fact, fans must either cheer for teams in Arizona, Texas, or California; miles away from their home. The city has two minor league sports teams and the University of New Mexico. This would be a great market simply based on the land area a team would cover. People from all around would want to buy tickets for a sports team in this market.
8. Boise, Idaho
Though it has a lower population, Boise, Idaho is an even better market than Albuquerque. Though there are no sports teams in New Mexico, there are a number in the surrounding states. Idaho has no teams and nothing in a close proximity. Boise is the state’s most populous metropolitan area and hosts the Potato Bowl. This means there is a good amount of interest in football in the city. It also has four minor league sports teams. The interest is definitely there, unfortunately a professional sports team is not.
7. Tucson, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona has the 33rd largest city population and the 52nd most populated metropolitan area in the United States. The tourism industry brings in an estimated two billion dollars every year. Therefore, the city has the infrastructure to accommodate fans who would travel to watch games. The city is home to the University of Arizona Wildcats. It already hosts some major sporting events such as the El Tour de Tucson bicycling race and the Desert Diamond Cup. The Desert Diamond Cup is Major League Soccer’s biggest pre-season tournament. Combine this with a rapidly growing population; it would seem like a logical landing spot for a professional soccer team.
6. El Paso, Texas
El Paso, Texas is home to the largest bilingual work force in the Western Hemisphere. The city is known for its large military presence. It currently has an estimated population of 830,735 in its metro area. The main reason El Paso does not already have a team of its own is its close proximity to San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston. However, the city does have a large amount of people of many different backgrounds. This makes for some intriguing factors for those looking to start a professional sport franchise in this particular city. El Paso already has a stadium for a team and the city is home to the NCAA’s Sun Bowl, which is the second oldest college bowl game next to the Rose Bowl.
5. Omaha, Nebraska
Omaha, Nebraska seems perfect for a Major League Baseball team. The city already has two of the most popular college teams for football and basketball: the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Creighton Blue Jays. The metropolitan area has a population of 895,151 people. These people all gather together each year for the College World Series which is held in their city. The closest baseball team is the Kansas City Royals. The fans of Omaha deserve better.
4. Austin, Texas
With 1,928,998 people in its metropolitan area, the city of Austin, Texas is the largest untapped sports market in America. It is actually the 11th most populated city in the United States and it is still growing. The city is home to the Texas Longhorns and (disgraced) cycling legend Lance Armstrong. The economy is also booming. It is considered one of the best places for business in the country. Like El Paso, a new sports franchise would be forced to compete with San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston. But with so many people, it would be able to compete.
3. Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham is the most populated city in Alabama. In fact, about a quarter of all the people living in the state live in the Birmingham metropolitan area. The city has had a few professional football teams, but none of them have been involved in the NFL. It was also home to one of the most popular Negro League baseball teams, the Birmingham Black Barons. With a large population and no other team to compete with in the state, Birmingham is a prime location for a new franchise.
2. Las Vegas, Nevada
The main reason Las Vegas, Nevada, does not have a professional sports team is the same reason why one could be so profitable. Many people have considered starting a franchise in the city, but have decided against it because of the town’s rampant sports betting business. This just means there is a huge interest in sports in the city. Vegas has tons of hotels that could give shelter to those staying in town to catch a game, and its constant flow of tourists could definitely support a sports franchise.
1. Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky is a big time sports city. Unfortunately, it does not have a pro team of its own. Louisville is home to one of the most popular sports colleges in the country. It is also the home of the infamous Kentucky Derby. The city also has a major sports business located within its limits: Louisville Slugger. Louisville has actually had two NFL teams, the Louisville Breck and the Louisville Colonels. Both these teams were discontinued during the 1920s. Not only are sports in the nature of Louisville, but the city is growing. 1,334,872 people already call the Louisville metro area home and one third of the state’s population growth is a result of the immediate land area surrounding the city.
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