By Big Man Mike
With the Oakland Raiders impending move to Las Vegas, the Los Angeles Chargers recent move from San Diego, and many other rumored moves, the potential for a team moving in the near future is not an unheard of concept. Additionally, the last team to be inducted into the NFL was the Houston Texans in 2002, which means that if no new teams are added by 2021 that we will be in the longest period of time without a new addition to the NFL. With both those points in mind, here are the top 10 potential expansion or relocation cities.
10. Mexico City, MEX
The NFL has made it no secret that it enjoys international series with a passion, and a potential NFL team in Mexico does not seem out of the conversation. The turnout is typically pretty high, the ratings are almost always excellent, and the atmosphere at the games seems to be pretty intense. The only issues seem to be the excessive amount of travel necessary as the round trip from the furthest NFL team, the New England Patriots, would be approximately 5,500 miles. That amount of travel distance, especially given that Estadio Azteco in Mexico City is approximately a mile higher in altitude than Mile High in Denver. I’d rate this one as a sneaky pick, but a possible one nonetheless
9. San Antonio, TX
As the 7th most populated city in the United States, San Antonio would be a key grab for a new market team to take advantage of. The city has already shown that they have the environment to nurture a winning sports team, as seen with the Spurs. In addition, San Antonio’s AAF team averaged approximately 27,720 attendants per game, showing that the fan base is there for the city. The only issue comes with the market competition. The Texans and Cowboys are already dominant fan bases in the area, and the prevalence of high school football and college football in the state somewhat hinder the possibility, but doesn’t completely eliminate it.
8. London, ENG
Another city that has been a favorite of the NFL board for the international series, the possibility of a team in London has been hinted at for many years. Jaguar’s owner Shad Khan has been vocal about the ability for the sport to be popular in England and the attendance showed that, with approximately 85,870 fans watching the Jaguars take on the Eagles in 2018. Much like with Mexico City, logistics prove to be a serious issue as a game between the 49ers and the team in London would mean one team would have to make a 10,000 mile trip. The popularity of the sport is there, but there will certainly be backlash from teams should a team be put in the UK.
7. Birmingham, AL
A state that bleeds football, Alabama might be a sneaky spot for a new team to be established. It has deep roots in the history of the sport, has essentially two football factories in Alabama and Auburn as local colleges, and has a ravenous potential fan base. A significant issue might come from trying to poach the college fans away from the Crimson Tide, as many people in the state view Bear Bryant as a near equal to Jesus Christ. Despite that, Alabama could be a potential spot for a new franchise to pop up.
6. Honolulu, HI
One of the more interesting choices on this list, Hawaii has shown an increasing amount of interest in the game of football in recent years due to the immense amount of talent coming out of the state. Players such as Marcus Mariota, Tua Tagovailoa, and DeForest Buckner have improved the status of Hawaiian football, and the untouched fan base might make the state ripe for a new team. Similar to London and Mexico City, the key issue is travel. A potential 10,000 mile plane trip from Honolulu to Foxborough might be enough to scare teams off the proposal. Additionally, it seems like Hawaii football is more prevalent at the college level, but we’ve seen that change when an NFL team comes to town. I’d say that Hawaii is one of the more intriguing possibilities, and should be seriously considered if a new team arises.
5. Oakland, CA
The Raiders are packing their bags for Vegas, but the city of Oakland might seriously be a contender should another team want to move or be established in the next decade or so. One undercut reason why the Raiders are leaving is because the city did not want to curb the costs for an upgraded stadium, possibly due to the team’s lack of success and the dominance of the Golden State Warriors right across the bay leaving the team lacking on fans and better investment opportunities available nearby. Should Golden States dynasty end in the near future, I could see the city try to entice a new team in order to create new revenue to compensate. It would definitely be out of left field, but similar things happened when the Cleveland Browns became the Baltimore Ravens, and then the new look Browns were brought back to Cleveland as essentially a new team.
4. Montreal, CAN
Montreal as an NFL team is an interesting option that people seem to overlook. As a CFL team, Montreal has hosted 9 out of the top 10 most attended CFL games in history, and has played in 9 out of those 10 as well. Montreal also avoids many of the more significant issues facing an international team, as the city is barely 330 miles away from Foxborough. The only issue facing Montreal as an NFL team is the fact that the CFL will fight to the death to prevent this team from happening. However, the same thing was said of Jerry Jones fighting against the Texans becoming an expansion team, and that happened. Never say never.
3. Portland, OR
Portland lends itself into an interesting place in American sports culture. The Trailblazers are a very solid NBA team, the NHL and the MLB have been rumored to be interested in the city for nearly a decade, and the University of Oregon has proven to be one of the most well rounded and dominant sports universities in the nation. The only issues with Portland as an NFL city are that the team may struggle in a region with a zealous fan bases for the Seahawks and the University of Oregon football team. Time will tell, but I’d put Portland near the top of the list for realistic teams that will get an NFL team in my lifetime.
2. Oklahoma City, OK
With the Rams departure from St. Louis, the Midwest is starting to look slightly barren in terms of professional sports teams to support. The Chiefs and Broncos are the sole NFL teams while the Nuggets and Thunder are the only NBA teams. This is all in spite of the obsessive fan culture in the Midwest, as the Chiefs and Broncos have one of the more passionate fan bases in the NFL. A team in Oklahoma City would provide a solid option in an unsaturated market, while simultaneously not interfering with the fan bases of the Oklahoma City Thunder as much due to the different schedules between the NFL and the NBA. However, similar to Honolulu and Birmingham, the prevalence of Sooner football in the state may hurt the profitability of a potential NFL team.
- Toronto, CAN
My personal pick for a future expansion or relocation team lies just north of the border in Toronto. The biggest issue facing many of these international teams is that many investors may not be convinced that an international team can draw media attention and successful television numbers in the US. The Raptors run in the NBA finals has helped ease these doubts. Toronto has shown to have potentially one of the more passionate fan bases in the NBA, NHL, and the MLB. Additionally, much like Montreal the team is very close to the US and would not have the similar travel issues of other international spots. While a team in Toronto would also irk the CFL, if the NFL is looking to expand no better options are available than the city of Toronto.