Cities with the most professional sports leagues

May 9, 2022

With the playoffs in the NBA and the National Basketball Association in full swing once again, this spring will see the coronation of new champions in two of the major sports in the United States. And with each title come bragging rights and community pride in the cities the winning teams call home.

A few select US metro areas have enjoyed bouts of success across multiple sports in recent years. In 2021, Tampa saw the NHL Lightning win their second consecutive Stanley Cup while the NFL’s Buccaneers captured the Super Bowl. Los Angeles has had recent titles from the NFL’s Rams (2022), MLB’s Dodgers (2020), and NBA’s Lakers (2020). The 2000s saw strong run in the Bay Area, where the MLB’S San Francisco Giants and NBA’s Golden State Warriors each claimed three titles, and in Boston, which enjoyed three titles for the NFL’s Patriots, two for the MLB’s Red Sox, and one for the Bruins in the NHL since 2010.

But the geographic dominance of major sports in the United States is nothing new. Across 421 championships awarded across the MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL and NHL, teams from just six metropolitan areas have won half: New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit and San Francisco. These metros are among the largest and most historic, and in some cases have multiple teams competing in the same sport, increasing the chances of bringing the title home. But each of these sites also enjoys a continuous advantage over time from one or more of their hometown teams.

Nowhere is this more visible than the New York subway. Behind 27 New York Yankees — more than a quarter of the World Series titles MLB has ever awarded — and two more from the New York Mets after the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants won six World Series titles before both franchises after moving to California, baseball helped cement the region New York metropolitan is at the top of the list of metropolitan areas with the most titles. In fact, only Boston (39) has more total championships than New York has MLB championships. Only Montreal, which has won 25 NHL titles alone, comes close to New York’s dominance of individual sports in baseball.

The success of the teams in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Boston, respectively, has propelled California, New York and Massachusetts to the top of the list of states with the most titles. Some other sports markets have been less fortunate. For example, Tennessee has four professional sports teams that have never won a championship in a major sport, while North Carolina is home to four teams that combined for one title.

HotDog.com researchers ranked the US and Canadian metropolitan areas according to total professional sports leagues. The website attributed a tournament to a tournament won by a team that was rated as being from the website at the time it won the tournament. All NFL Championships have been included since the founding of the NFL in 1920; All NBA tournaments included since the founding of the NBA in 1946; All world championships dating back to 1903 are included; All NHL leagues have been included since the founding of the NHL in 1917, and all MLS tournaments have been included since the first MLS season in 1996. Only central districts with at least one active NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, or MLS team were considered.

Data were obtained from pro-football-reference.com, basketball-reference.com, baseball-reference.com, hockey-reference.com and fbref.com. In the event of a tie, the position with the most recent tournament is ranked higher.

The analysis found that sports teams in the Philadelphia metro area have won a total of 17 championships. Of all the American and Canadian metro stations with at least one active professional sports team, the Philadelphia Metro won the ninth place in the number of championships. Here is a summary of the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD metro area data:

  • Total professional sports leagues: 17
  • Total NFL Championships: 4
  • Total NBA Championships: 4
  • Total MLB Championships: 7
  • Total NHL Championships: 2
  • Total MLS Championships: 0
  • Latest Championship: 2017

For reference, here’s the tournament total through history:

  • Total professional sports leagues: 421
  • Total NFL Championships: 102
  • Total NBA Championships: 75
  • Total MLB Championships: 117
  • Total NHL Championships: 101
  • Total MLS Championships: 26
  • Latest Championship: 2021

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