A total of 12 metropolitan areas across the United States and Canada have just one professional sports team. In these cities, fans must resort to cheering for the area’s sole representative of either the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, or MLS. Today, we’re ranking all 12 of these cities based on the score given to their only “Big 5” venue.
Each venue is ranked according to our patented FANFARE rating system, which takes into account a facility’s food, atmosphere, neighborhood, fans, access, value and more. Our current correspondent’s review produces the primary score, with ties broken by crowd reviews. Where two or more venues remained even, a discussion among members of Club 123 was held to break the tie.
It’s a different way of looking at venues, and produces some variability in our lists that you don’t see elsewhere. It should be noted that Las Vegas is the most recent city to drop off this list, as the Oakland Raiders recently completed a move to Sin City and plan to open Allegiant Stadium this fall. San Diego is the latest addition to the list, after the Chargers left the city for nearby Los Angeles in 2017.
Bell MTS Place – 4.86
The original Winnipeg Jets were a professional hockey team that started out in 1972 in the World Hockey Association, which later merged with the NHL. However, due to financial struggles, the team would relocate to Phoenix in 1996. Then, in 2011, the Atlanta Thrashers headed north to the tundra of Manitoba to become the Jets once more. This second incarnation of the franchise would move into Bell MTS Place, a venue they’ve shared with their AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, since the 2015-16 season. The provincial capital is also home to the Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League, and baseball’s Winnipeg Goldeyes of the independent American Association.
Rogers Place – 4.43
The legendary Oilers recently debuted their new CAN$460 million arena in 2016, replacing the aging Rexall Place. Rogers Place, which holds 18,500 people for hockey games, is also the home ice of the Edmonton Oil Kings, a major junior team that plays in the Western Hockey League. Elsewhere in Alberta’s capital, the Edmonton Eskimos are the city’s CFL representative.
Golden 1 Center – 4.29
Cali’s capital almost lost the NBA’s Kings forever, after three relocation proposals were pitched between 2006 and 2013. But Sacramento held onto their beloved basketball franchise, ultimately building the team a new state-of-the-art arena in downtown. The Golden 1 Center, opened in 2016, is home to the city’s only major league sports franchise, although an MLS team is in the works. The Sacramento Republic FC, currently in the second tier of the American soccer pyramid, will move into a new stadium and move up to the majors in 2022. Sactown is also home to the Sacramento River Cats, a Triple-A baseball team that plays at Sutter Health Park.
4. San Antonio
AT&T Center – 4.29
Although Dallas and Houston both have their fair share of pro sports teams, the second-most populous city in Texas has only one. San Antonio, stomping grounds of the NBA’s Spurs, lacks any other professional franchises. The Spurs play at the 18,000-seat AT&T Center, along with the AHL’s Rampage – at least, until the latter moves to Las Vegas to become an affiliate of the Golden Knights. The San Antonio Commanders of the failed Alliance of American Football also made their home in Bexar County, but folded along with the rest of the league in 2019.
5. San Diego
Photo By Andrei Ojeda, Stadium Journey
Petco Park – 4.14
Sunny San Diego has had a rocky sports history, having lost the NFL’s Chargers to Los Angeles in 2017. The Chargers had been beloved by the city since they’d arrived in 1961. This relocation left San Diegans with MLB’s Padres as their only professional team. The Friars, as they’re sometimes called, have played downtown at beautiful Petco Park since 2004. The city also has the AHL’s San Diego Gulls and the National Lacrosse League’s San Diego Seals to cheer for.
6. Oklahoma City
Photo by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Chesapeake Energy Arena – 4.14
Although Oklahoma’s capital hosted NBA games when the New Orleans Hornets were displaced due to Hurricane Katrina, the city didn’t get a professional franchise of their own until the Seattle SuperSonics moved to the Sooner State in 2009. The rechristened Oklahoma City Thunder have played at Chesapeake Energy Arena, which also sometimes hosts NHL exhibition games, ever since. The Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers also plays in the city’s Bricktown neighborhood, at the acclaimed Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
7. Green Bay
Lambeau Field – 4.00
The smallest city in the nation with a professional sports team, Green Bay, Wisconsin is home to the iconic Packers of the NFL and their historic stadium, Lambeau Field. Despite threats to move south to the much larger market of Milwaukee, where the team even played several home games each season, the Green Bay Packers have withstood the storm. They continue to provide the town of 104,000 people with at least 8 incredible Sundays in the winter, “packing” out the 81,000-seat Lambeau each week.
PNC Arena, Carolina Hurricanes Warming Up, Photo by Kaytlyn Drummond, Stadium Journey
PNC Arena – 3.86
The Hartford Whalers ditched Connecticut and headed south in 1997, making their nest in North Carolina. Although initially playing at the Greensboro Coliseum, the rebranded Carolina Hurricanes would move into the newly-constructed PNC Arena in Raleigh in time for the turn of the Millenium. The Raleigh-Durham area can also claim two Minor League Baseball franchises: the Triple-A Durham Bulls and the High-A Carolina Mudcats, who play in nearby Zebulon.
Scotiabank Saddledome Entrance, Photo by Jim Flannery, Stadium Journey
Scotiabank Saddledome – 3.71
Like Winnipeg, Calgary is the recipient of a relocated NHL franchise from Atlanta. The Flames moved to Alberta in 1980 and began play three years later at what was then the Olympic Saddledome. Now, Flames ownership is seeking to replace this aging facility, with plans to begin construction on a new arena in 2021. The potential destruction of the Saddledome will also displace the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen and the NLL’s Calgary Roughnecks, although both teams may also move into the new facility. Alberta’s largest city is also home to the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL.
FedEx Forum – 3.57
The Grizzlies first relocated to the Home of the Blues in 2001, after departing Vancouver. The team made their den at the Memphis Pyramid until the sparkling FedEx Forum replaced that arena in 2004. Memphis has never had another permanent professional sports franchise, although XFL and CFL teams have passed through. In the minor leagues, AutoZone Park in downtown is home to both the Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, the Memphis RedBirds, and Memphis 901 FC, a tier-2 soccer franchise.
Photo By Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Canadian Tire Centre – 3.57
The national capital of Canada has been attempting to replace the aging Canadian Tire Centre, where the Ottawa Senators skate, for quite some time. Opened in 1996 as The Palladium, this venue in the Ottawa suburbs has served its tenant well, but inaccessibility and the arena’s distance from downtown have been the chief detractors. The city also has their Redblacks, a CFL franchise that plays at TD Place Stadium.
TIAA Bank Field, Photo by Chris Green, Stadium Journey
TIAA Bank Field – 3.57
The Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL have been at the center of many relocation rumors, most recently cropping up during speculation that the team may move to London. The Jags have played at least one game in the United Kingdom each season since 2013, and they’re slated to participate in two more in 2020. The team’s current home in Florida, TIAA Bank Field, opened in 1995 and is also the site of the Gator Bowl and the annual Florida-Georgia college football rivalry game. Jax has two minor league teams as well: the Jumbo Shrimp, Double-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins, and the Icemen, ECHL affiliate of the Jets of Winnipeg, another one-pro team city.