Championships of cities with the most professional sports

May 9, 2022

With the NBA and NHL playoffs back in full swing, new champions will be crowned in two major U.S. sports this spring. And with each title comes the right to brag and boost community pride for the cities the winning teams call home.

Several select subway areas in the U.S. have achieved a surge of success in several sports in recent years. In 2021, Tampa saw NHL’s Lightning win its second Stanley Cup in a row, while the NFL’s Buccaneers won the Super Bowl. Los Angeles recently had titles from the NFL Rams (2022), the MLB Dodgers (2020) and the NBA Lakers (2020). And in 2010 they experienced strong streaks in the Bay Area, with MLB’s San Francisco Giants and NBA’s Golden State Warriors winning three titles each, and in Boston, which won three titles for the NFL Patriots, two for the MLB Red Sox and one for NHL’s Bruins since 2010.

But geographical dominance in major U.S. sports is nothing new. In the 421 championships awarded in the MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL and NHL, nearly half were won by teams from just six metropolitan areas: New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit and San Francisco. These subways are among the largest and most historic in the country, and in some cases have multiple teams competing in the same sport, increasing the chances of winning the title. But each of these locations has also enjoyed the enduring excellence of one or more teams from their hometown over time.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the New York subway. Behind 27 New York Yankees titles — more than a quarter of the World Series titles the MLB has ever awarded — and two more from the New York Mets after the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants combined for six World Series victories before moving both franchises to California, baseball has helped make New York’s metropolitan area at the top of the list of subways with the most titles. In fact, only Boston (39) has more overall championships than New York has MLB championships. Only Montreal, with just 25 NHL titles, is approaching dominance in one of New York’s baseball sports.

The success of the teams in Los Angeles and San Francisco, New York and Boston has pushed California, New York and Massachusetts to the top of the list of countries with the most titles. Some other sports markets were less fortunate. For example, Tennessee has four professional sports teams, but has never won a major sporting championship, while North Carolina is home to four teams that have teamed up for one title.

Researchers at HotDog.com ranked U.S. and Canadian metropolitan areas according to the total number of professional sports championships. The place attributed the championship to the championship won by the team marked as being from the location at the time she won the championship. All NFL championships since the founding of the NFL in 1920 are included; all NBA championships have been included since the NBA was founded in 1946; all world series, dating from 1903, are included; All NHL championships since the founding of the NHL in 1917 are included, and all MLS championships since the first season of MLS in 1996 are included. Only subways 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 case of a tie, the place with the last championship is ranked higher.

The analysis showed that the Philadelphia subway sports teams won a total of 17 championships. Of all the U.S. and Canadian subways with at least one active professional sports team, the Philadelphia subway won 9th place in the championship. Here is a summary of the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD subway data:

  • Total professional sports championships: 17
  • Total NFL Championships: 4
  • Total NBA Championships: 4
  • Total MLB Championships: 7
  • Total NHL Championships: 2
  • Total MLS Championships: 0
  • Last championship: 2017

For reference, here are the results of the championship throughout history:

  • Total professional sports championships: 421
  • Total NFL Championships: 102
  • Total NBA Championships: 75
  • Total MLB Championships: 117
  • Total NHL Championships: 101
  • Total MLS Championships: 26
  • Last championship: 2021

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