Forget LA, These Are The Cities That Deserve An NFL Team
The Rams are bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles. All 32 owners convened in Houston, Texas to decide whether the St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers, or Oakland Raiders would make the jump to Hollywood.
America’s second largest media market has been devoid of the nation’s most popular sport since 1994 when both the Rams and Raiders left town. Just two years following the Los Angeles evacuation, the Houston Oilers became the last NFL team to relocate upon its move to Tennessee.
Reviving the partnership between the NFL and Los Angeles has been on the table for years. For one reason or another, the league was unable to find a solution. Until now.
But why do the Rams deserve another chance in Hollywood? What about these other great cities?
Yes, it would be the fourth NFL franchise in Florida; just as the Rams headed to Los Angeles would make them the fourth team in California. Otherwise, Orlando seems like a perfect fit for football.
The stadium conundrum is set, at least for the time being, with the Orlando Citrus Bowl already in town. Orlando is the 18th largest media market in the country, well ahead of would-be state rival Jacksonville. The city is buzzing with tourists on a regular basis thanks to Mickey and Minnie. Plus, the Magic must be lonely as the only big four professional franchise in town.
Damian Lillard just announced he plans to play his entire career with the Trail Blazers. A move that will alone keep the city of Portland sports relevant. Unfortunately, it takes some purposeful time on Google to figure out the reigning MLS champion Timbers also hail from Portland.
Football would put Portland on the map. Known for mostly for its micro-breweries and eco-friendliness, the city is sure to attract the NFL’s burgeoning hipster demographic. Ndamukong Suh is from Portland. Maybe if his hometown is gifted a team he would stop being so angry. With Nike’s headquarters just down the road in Beaverton, the league could certainly save a ton on shipping.
Salt Lake City
More love for the west coast. Utah isn’t on the top of anyone’s list when thinking about football. In fact, it isn’t at the top of anyone’s list when thinking about anything. But, Salt Lake City has proven it can handle being in the spotlight. If the season ended today, the Jazz would make the NBA playoffs in a surprisingly week western conference. Oh, and the SLC was once home to a little thing called the Olympics.
Salt Lake City is the 34th largest media market in the country. Above several teams, including the recently eliminated Cincinnati Bengals. The Utes are always in the conversation on the college level. Fans would be sure to welcome Sunday football with open arms.
The closest thing Richmond, Virginia has to professional sports is the Flying Squirrels, a minor league affiliate of the San Francisco Giants.
Often touted for its arts and culture, a professional sports team would add a new dynamic to the state’s capital. Not mention, the state itself isn’t home to a single professional sports team. Virginians deserve better than having to resort to rooting for their racist next-door neighbors. As the only professional team in the state, the Richmond (insert politically correct name here) would rather quickly gain a fanbase by default.
If the NBA is allowed to be running through the six, the NFL shouldn’t confine itself to the continental United States either. Aloha Stadium is basically begging to be used for more than just the Pro Bowl.
Sure the travel and time zone serve as logistical threats to this ever happening, but Johnny Manziel poses logistical threats to the NFL every day. It goes without saying that Hawaii is gorgeous, just ask the POTUS. Part of what makes Hawaii so special might be its lack of infiltration from professional sports, but if the 50th state wants to keep up there is no better way than welcoming America’s favorite sport.
A version of this story was originally published on January 13, 2016 on Slant.