The NFL entertains and brings people together on Sundays like no other sport. The league has considered many expansion efforts through the years, but the cost of building a suitable stadium is usually the biggest roadblock that stands in the way. Some cities might not have the funds and infrastructure necessary to support an NFL team, but still earn points for this list for being deserving of one.
The following metropolitan areas make a strong case for hosting an NFL team. Many of them have healthy potential fan bases, television audiences, have very little competition to dilute the product and might even have experience with other professional sports franchises. Unfortunately, deserving and fan potential doesn’t necessarily equate to having the proper funding and facilities to accommodate an NFL team. Strong support is an essential ingredient to being able to overcome such shortcomings.
The population counts of the metropolitan areas are based on figures from the 2010 U.S. Census, while television markets are from the September 1, 2013 Nielson Company estimates. Starting with the locations earning honorable mention, there is something each metropolitan area could bring to the NFL’s table.
15 Riverside, San Bernardino, Ontario: 4,225,000 Metro population / Part of Greater Los Angeles Market
14 Louisville: 1,236,000 Metro population / 670,880 TV Households
13 Hampton Roads: 1,677,000 Metro population / 709,730 TV Households
12 Hartford, New Haven: 1,212,000 Metro population / 996,550 TV Households
11 Columbus: 1,902,000 Metro population / 930,460 TV Households
Columbus happens to be home to the consistent big draw Buckeyes and is also the biggest city in a state with two longstanding football teams. The population and healthy television market are hard to overlook, as well as the fact that both Cleveland and Cincinnati have multiple professional sports teams and Columbus only has the MLS Crew. This would be a great equalizer for the city of Columbus, as well as adding another solid fan base in a state of 11.5 million residents to the NFL fold. The "Horseshoe" can handle a big crowd, but to get it up to NFL standards might be difficult.
10 Birmingham: 1,128,000 Metro population / 717,530 TV Households
9 Sacramento: 2,149,000 Metro population / 1,378,710 TV Households
8 Salt Lake City: 1,088,000 Metro population / 917,370 TV Households
7 Austin: 1,716,000 Metro population / 705,280 TV Households
6 Oklahoma City: 1,253,000 Metro population / 717,770 TV Households
5 Portland: 2,226,000 Metro population / 1,182,180 TV Households
4 Orange County, CA: 3,010,232 / Part of Greater Los Angeles Market
3 Toronto: 5,583,064 Metro population / 2,703,000 TV Households
2 San Antonio: 2,143,000 Metro population / 881,050 TV Households
1 Los Angeles: 12,829,000 Metro population / 5,613,460 TV Households
Los Angeles might not be clamoring as loudly as other cities for an NFL team, but the NFL sorely wants a franchise in what is the second largest television market in the U.S.. The city has two successful baseball franchises, two NBA basketball teams that share the same arena, and two NHL hockey teams within its metropolitan area. Even the USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins draw big crowds on Saturdays. Los Angeles is by far the biggest metropolitan area without an NFL team. The NFL will do whatever it can to get a stadium built and a team in place to unlock this lucrative market and that is precisely why it tops this list.
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