Statwide Office party strength in U.S. states

U.S. states without major sports teams

There are currently 25 U. S. states without major sports teams, when U.S. major league sports are defined as MLB, the NFL, the NBA, and the NHL.


The reasons for this are mixed. Often it is because of a lack of population density or size in a single city or even an entire state. The lack of density hurts TV contracts, advertising, ticket sales, attendance, and city/state funds for the required facilities and salaries of the players. Often many states are grouped together, in the case of the New England Patriots (and, though not in name, the Boston Red Sox). Even though both teams play in the Boston area, there are many fans in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Similarly, fans of Pittsburgh franchises can be found in West Virginia (mainly in the northern half of the state), Philadelphia fans in Delaware, Minneapolis and Minnesota fans in North and South Dakota, Kansas City fans in Kansas and Nebraska, Dallas fans in Oklahoma and Arkansas, Atlanta and New Orleans fans in Mississippi, and Alabama, fans of Denver and Colorado in Wyoming, Phoenix and Arizona fans in New Mexico, and Chicago fans in Iowa. For franchises based in California, many fans can be found in Hawaii, and likewise with Seattle teams in Alaska.

Special cases

Virginia is by far the most populous state without a major sports team. There are 15 less-populated states (including Washington, D.C.) with pro-sports franchises. However, a large portion of Virginia's population supports Washington, D.C. teams (though those in the Hampton Roads area tend to support teams in or near North Carolina or Atlanta). The second-largest state without a team, Alabama, is the largest without any major sports teams either within or near its boundaries. Northern Alabama's population supports Atlanta teams and Southern Alabama's population supports New Orleans teams, but the entire state shows much more support for either of the state's two major university athletic teams. There are only three states smaller than Alabama with any permanent teams and only four teams between the three states (Louisiana, Oregon and Utah).

Nevada's major city, Las Vegas, more than qualifies for at least one major league team, as its population has exploded in the last 10 years. However, the major leagues have always been apprehensive of Las Vegas' gambling reputation, and the possibility that if Las Vegas had a franchise, illegal gambling would rise among the players and staff. Also, Nevada's overall population remains below that of any state hosting a major league team. Still, all four leagues have explored the possibility of adding a team in Las Vegas. The city hosted the NBA All-Star Game in February 2007, in part to convince NBA officials that the city will support a team. Sports fans, mainly Las Vegas-area natives, support Phoenix teams, any Los Angeles or San Diego teams, San Francisco Bay Area or Sacramento teams, Seattle teams, Oregon teams, Denver teams, Utah teams (a large Mormon population is found in the city and state), and a large college team following as well. In the more recent years, the Las Vegas population has been found to have many fans from teams all over the United States, Mexico and Canada, due to the diverse population of residents from all over North America moving to rapidly growing Las Vegas.

Outside the continental United States

Alaska and Hawaii have never had a major league team, mainly due to their distance from the U.S. mainland, and that the states were admitted to the union in 1959, when most of the major sports leagues were emerging leagues. While Anchorage, Alaska's chances of getting a team are very slim, due to its relatively small population, unattractive cold climate, and undersized venues, Honolulu, Hawaii has adequate population and large enough venues to host a team. Honolulu used to be home to a WFL franchise, and currently hosts the annual NFL Pro Bowl. Nowadays, most of Hawaii's population tends to support Los Angeles or San Francisco Bay Area teams, and Alaska's population tends to support either Seattle teams or Western Canadian-based teams such as the Vancouver Canucks and the Edmonton Oilers.

Recent developments

The latest addition to this list is Oklahoma, since the New Orleans Hornets of the NBA ended their temporary stay in Oklahoma City brought on by the Hurricane Katrina disaster. The Hornets played 36 of 41 home games in Oklahoma City during the 2005-06 NBA season, and played 35 home games in both Oklahoma City and nearby Norman in the 2006-07 season. The franchise has returned to New Orleans permanently for the 2007-08 season, leaving Oklahoma again without a major team. However, Oklahoma could be removed from this list as soon as the 2008-09 season, as the Seattle SuperSonics received conditional approval to move to Oklahoma City pending litigation over the team's lease.

If the unique situation of the Hornets is discounted, the latest addition becomes Connecticut, after the NHL's Hartford Whalers moved to North Carolina in 1997. Though fan support for a return to Hartford is big, issues have risen over arena quality, cash, and lack of interest from potential team owners. The Connecticut Sun WNBA team does play in the state, but the WNBA is not considered a major sports league.

Currently, two states have only one major league sports team. Coincidentally, both of these teams are in the NBA, which led the other leagues in expansion to fast-growing Western U.S. markets such as Phoenix and Seattle. The states are Oregon (the Portland Trail Blazers) and Utah (the Utah Jazz). Each team is healthy enough to remain in its current location, and Utah was viable enough to support the creation of the Real Salt Lake franchise of Major League Soccer.

In place of major league teams, college, minor league, and high school teams enjoy quite a lot of attention, such as high school football teams throughout Alabama, The University of Alabama football and basketball, Nebraska's college football team, Kentucky's college basketball team, and so on.

Of course, many states without professional team sports still boast celebrated sports institutions (e.g. Churchill Downs in Kentucky, boxing in Nevada, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska, the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii). This list also does not take into account NASCAR — the second-most watched spectator sport in the US, behind NFL football. Several states without major sports teams do host NASCAR Sprint Cup races, including Alabama, Delaware, Kansas, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Virginia.

List of U.S. States without major sports teams

NOTE: The asterisk denotes a state that used to have a team in one of the major leagues; see below.

Teams formerly located in one of these states





Rhode Island

South Carolina

See also

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