Tampa is becoming a sports powerhouse

When will the Big Apple get another? And will Buffalo and San Diego experience their first title parade since the 1960s?

This article was updated on March 15, 2021.

Some cities are used to major professional sports parades and enjoy a wealth of teams for fans to follow.

Tampa has not been, until the past year.

With the Bucs winning the Super Bowl and Lightning taking the Stanley Cup, that marks two major titles in the past year. And Tampa’s baseball team also reached the finals of a third. Will Tampa be the Boston of the South?

Meanwhile, San Antonio, with only one major pro sports team for fans to support, has had a championship parade more recently than New York, which has seven teams.

Some cities have really known sports misery. Before the Cavaliers won the NBA championship in 2016, Cleveland sports fans had suffered through 144 major sports pro seasons of the Browns, Cavs, and Indians since their last title in 1964. San Diego and Buffalo teams last won a crown in 1964 and 1965, respectively, and some don’t even consider the old AFL to count.

As for including soccer as a major sport, the MLS Cup champ deserves to be recognized on roughly equal footing to the so-called Big Four [NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL]. The average MLS attendance of 21,265 per game in 2019 exceeded that of the NBA [17,750] and NHL [17,423], and the league’s average franchise value of $240 million is not exactly peanuts anymore. Some scribes, such as SB Nation’s Nate Scott, recognize an MLS crown as a major one. Count me among those.

Some would count big-time college programs among this group, especially when the coaches get paid millions, as the players have to settle for dreams of a big future payday. And there are other soccer, football and basketball pro leagues that are not as popular as the Big Five. But I don’t want to make this list even more complicated than it is.

I separate certain cities that many don’t; for instance, some lump Newark and Brooklyn in with New York, Arlington with Dallas, Anaheim with LA, and even Green Bay with Milwaukee. But those smaller cities usually don’t like those associations and seek their own identities. That is only fair.

San Diego continues to top the miserable fan base list, but its pro sports suffering index is balanced with near-perfect weather, cool beaches, and the Bill Walton clan. Meanwhile, Buffalo fans deal with not just major pro sports futility, but brutal winters with only the Gronkowski clan to cheer them up. However, nearby Niagara Falls is picturesque so there is that.

Here is the list with the most miserable at the top and happiest at the bottom:

North American cities with most major pro sports seasons [NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS] since last championship, as of January 2021

City ……... Number ……….. Last title …………… Leagues represented
San Diego …..115…….. 1964, Chargers AFL…………. MLB, NFL*, NBA*
Buffalo …….. 114……. 1965, Bills AFL …………………NFL, NHL, NBA*
Milwaukee ….99 ………1971, Bucks NBA …………………..MLB, NBA
Minneapolis …91 ……..1991, Twins MLB …………….MLB, NFL, NBA, MLS*
Phoenix ………76……. 2001, Dbacks MLB ……………MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL
Vancouver ……65 …………..Never…………….……… NHL, MLS, NBA*
New York City ..64 ... 2012, Giants NFL …..MLB(2), NFL(2), NBA, NHL, MLS
Cincinnati …….63 ….1990, Reds MLB ………………………MLB, NFL, MLS
Charlotte ……..59 …………..Never ………………………….NBA, NFL
Detroit ………..50 ……..2008, Red Wings NHL ……….MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL
Arlington ……..49………….. Never …………………………….MLB
Montreal ……..48 …….1993, Canadians NHL ………….MLS, NHL, MLB*
Newark ………44 …….2003, Devils NHL ……………..NHL, MLS, NBA*
Nashville …….45…………….. Never………………………. NFL, NHL, MLS
Dallas ………..39……. 2011, Mavs NBA ……………….NFL, NBA, NHL, MLS
Ottawa ……….36……..1927, Senators NHL ……………………..NHL
Orlando ………36………….. Never …………………………….NBA, MLS
Sacramento ….35 …………….Never……………………………… NBA
San Jose ………34……. 2003, Earthquakes MLS………………. NHL, MLS
Calgary ………..31 …….1989, Flames NHL ……………………..NHL
Edmonton……. 30 ……..1990, Oilers NHL ……………………….NHL
Miami …………31……… 2013, Heat NBA……… MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, MLS
Indianapolis ….28……….2007, Colts NFL ………………………NFL, NBA
Anaheim ……..27 ……….2007, Ducks NHL ……………………MLB, NHL
Jacksonville ….26 ……………Never ………………………………NFL
Winnipeg ……..25…………… Never……………………………… NHL
Denver ………..25 ………2016, Broncos NFL…… MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, MLS
Chicago ……….25 ………..2016, Cubs MLB…. MLB(2), NFL, NBA, NHL, MLS
St. Paul……….. 22 …………….Never …………………………..NHL, MLS
Salt Lake City ….22 ……….2009, Real MLS …………………..NBA, MLS
New Orleans …..22 ………2010, Saints NFL…………………. NFL, NBA
Memphis ……….19 …………….Never………………………….. NBA
Baltimore ……….18……… 2012, Ravens NFL ………………..NFL, MLB
Brooklyn ……….15 ………1955, Dodgers MLB …………..NBA, NHL, MLB*
Oklahoma City ….14 ……………..Never ……………………………NBA
Raleigh…………. 14 ……….2006, Hurricanes NHL………………… NHL
Philadelphia …….15 ……….2018, Eagles NFL …MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, MLS
Cleveland ……….14………… 2016, Cavs NBA…………. MLB, NFL, NBA
San Francisco….. 13 ………….2014, Giants MLB ……………MLB, NFL
Houston …………13………. 2017, Astros MLB……MLB, NFL, NBA, MLS
Pittsburgh……… 11………. 2017, Pens NHL ……………MLB, NFL, NHL
Portland …………..10 ………….2015, Timbers MLS ………….NBA, MLS
Green Bay …………10……….. 2010, Packers NFL…………….. NFL
Boston ………….10 ………..2019, Patriots NFL …MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, MLS
Atlanta ………….9………2018, United MLS….. MLB, NFL, NBA, MLS, NHL*
Oakland……….. 8………..2018, Warriors NBA ………..MLB, NFL, NBA
San Antonio ……6…………. 2014, Spurs NBA………………… NBA
Toronto………… 6………. 2019, Raptors NBA ………MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS
Washington, D.C. ..7 …….2019, Nationals MLB ..MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, MLS
Seattle ………….4 ………..2019, Sounders …………MLS NFL, MLB, MLS
Kansas City …….3 …………2020, Chiefs NFL………. MLB, NFL, MLS
Los Angeles… 4 ...2020, Dodgers MLB… MLB, NFL(2), NBA(2), NHL, MLS(2)
Las Vegas ………..3 …………………Never ……………………..NHL
St. Louis …………3 ……….2019, Blues NHL…………. MLB, NHL, NFL*
Tampa ………….0 ………..2021, Bucs NFL ………..….…NFL, MLB, NHL
Columbus ……. 0 ……..… 2020, Crew MLS …………………….NHL, MLS

* Formerly in this league

NOTE: Teams are divided among cities where the championship parade would be held if that team won the title. For instance, if the Texas Rangers won, the parade would not be in Dallas but in Arlington or even Fort Worth. That’s why Arlington takes the Rangers’ years rather than Dallas. A Cowboys parade would likely be in Dallas even though they now play in Arlington — or there could be celebrations in both cities. New York takes most of its area pro teams, even though some like the Giants play in New Jersey. The 2012 SB parade for the Giants was in NYC.

Written for 45+ newspapers/mags. Written some books — see https://www.amazon.com/Kevin-J.-Shay/e/B004BCQRTG. Visited 48 states, 30+ countries.

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