The United States is a nation that loves its sports. There are five major professional leagues for spectators to enjoy, including the National Football League, National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, and Major League Soccer (only recently added to the mix). Many cities throughout the country have franchises from four, or even all five of these leagues, sometimes multiples, and often a substantial women's franchise too. On top of this, several major cities have hosted the Olympic Games, and regularly host everything from collegiate championships, to marathons, to triathlons, to tennis tournaments, automobile races, and more. Finally, no sports-loving city is complete without ample opportunities for the layman. The following are twelve US cities that feature some, or all of these options for the rabid fans.
Boston is a city known for its fervor, so much of which is directed at its various leagues, teams, and events. The Boston Red Sox (baseball), Boston Celtics (basketball), and Boston Bruins (one of the National Hockey League's "Original Six" teams), as well as The New England Patriots (football), and the New England Revolution (soccer) all play in (or near) Boston. This covers most of the spectrum of popular spectator sports in the United States. On top of all of this, the Boston Marathon, typically run on Patriot's Day, is the world's oldest annual marathon, and one of the Abbott World Marathon Majors.
Also known as Tracktown USA, Eugene, Oregon is an electric place to enjoy a typically underappreciated sport, namely, track and field. Eugene was popularized in the 1960s and 70s in large part due to the dynamic duo of Oregon Ducks coach and Nike co-founder, Bill Bowerman, and the legendary distance runner, Steve Prefontaine. In honor of the bold Olympian who died tragically at the age of 24, the Hayward Field grandstands boom each year at the Prefontaine Classic, an event that attracts not only some of the best athletes in the world, but also, arguably, the best fans.
Chicago has been named "Best Sports City" by Sporting News on three occasions in the last three decades. It is easy to see why based on their line up, which like Boston, covers all five major American professional leagues. There are the Chicago Blackhawk, another one of the "Original Six" NHL teams, the Chicago Cubs and Whitesox (baseball), Bears (football) Fire/Red Stars (Men's and Women's Soccer), and of course, the Chicago Bulls. The latter team was the subject of the recent popular Netflix series, The Last Dance, starring one of the most famous athletes of all-time, Michael Jordan. The Windy City also hosts one of the World Marathon Majors.
Los Angeles, California
LA tops this list for the sheer number of professional sports teams, many of which are top-tier franchises. There are the Angels and Dodgers (baseball), Clippers, Lakers, and Sparks (basketball), Kings and Ducks (hockey), FC and Galaxy (soccer), and Chargers and Rams (football). Aside from spectator sports, the geography and culture of Los Angeles favors water sports, cycling, running, hiking, gym-based fitness, yoga, and other wellness activities. Los Angeles will also soon join London, and as of 2024, Paris, as the only cities to have hosted three Olympic Games. For LA this occurred in 1932, 1984, and they are scheduled to hold the 2028 Summer Games.
Detroit is another city whose general scrappy character translates into the major professional teams and their corresponding fanbases. The Detroit Tigers (baseball), Lions (football), Pistons (basketball), and Red Wings (hockey) are all household names. The Detroit Red Wings are yet another one of the "Original Six" NHL teams, and also one of the winniest franchises in the league's history (third in Stanley Cup championships behind the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs). The passion for hockey is unique to only a handful of states, adding excitement and camaraderie to the harsh Michigan winters, whether in the arena or throughout Detroit's various sports bars.
Notre Dame, Indiana
Another famous University-driven sports city is Notre Dame, Indiana, home of the Fighting Irish. The stadium regularly fills to its nearly 78,000 person capacity in order to watch some of the best collegiate football players in the nation. But Notre Dame is not just known for the elite athletes, it has also inspired the grit and determination of the mere mortals in attendance. Rudy Ruetigger gave this University and its football team everything he had, and mostly behind the scenes, without any accolades. His motivational story inspired the classic sports film, Rudy. Nowadays, one cannot help but dream of being carried off the field in a similar show of celebration.
New York City, New York
The city of New York has celebrated more than a few championships alongside many iconic teams. Kicking things off are the New York Yankees (baseball). With 27 World Series titles under their belt, they are the most decorated American team in any major sport. In case that is not enough action to keep baseball fans satiated, they can also catch the New York Mets in their bid for their third championship. The Big Apple also has two NFL teams, the Giants and the Jets, two NHL teams, the Islanders and the Rangers (the final of the four US-based "Original Six"), men's and women's professional basketball teams, the Knicks and Liberty (respectively), and finally, for all you soccer fans, there is the New York City Football Club, which recently joined the MLS. Finally, the New York Marathon is a favored tradition and marks the third and final US city to claim one of the World Marathon Majors designation.
Supporting local sports teams can often take on an almost nationalistic commitment. Texas, has strong roots in both, and Dallas offers a number of outlets for such pride. For that very reason, The Dallas Cowboys' home venue, the AT&T Stadium, has the largest seating capacity in the NFL (80,000 but with the capability to expand to over 100,000). Other major professional teams based out of Dallas include the Mavericks (basketball), Texas Rangers (baseball), Stars (hockey), FC Dallas (soccer), and the Wings (women's basketball).
The second entry from the state of Indiana is celebrated for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Able to seat over 250,000 people, this racetrack has the largest capacity of any sporting venue, anywhere in the world. Throughout its 100+ year history, the "Brickyard" has seen some of the most thrilling events across every iteration of automobile racing. If you are a fan of car races, this is the place to be.
Atlanta has yet another strong lineup of professional sports teams, while also offering solid recreational outlets in and around the city. The Atlanta Braves (baseball) are certainly the primary draw for fans looking to have a good time. From the small village setup that is SunTrust Park, to the classic tailgating festivities, to the 39 titles across the division, National League, and World Series championships, there is a lot of positivity in the air at these games. Anyone in town looking for more variety can also check out the Falcons (football), Hawks or Dream (men's and women's basketball), or the Atlanta United Football Club (soccer). Atlanta also hosts the annual Peachtree Road Race, which sees 60,000 runners gunning for their best 10K. There is also a culture of golf in and around Atlanta, owing to its long, green summers and energy of The Masters PGA tournament, which takes place at nearby Augusta National each year. Finally, Atlanta was the host of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, from which the history and infrastructure can still be appreciated.
Miami brings the noise when it comes to professional sports (Heat, Dolphins, Marlins, Panthers, and the Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami), and has excellent access to all kinds of other sporting activities. For starters, Miami has hosted the Super Bowl eleven times, which is more than any other city in NFL history. Miami also hosts the Capital One Orange Bowl football game every year, as well as a score of other collegiate events. Car racing enthusiasts can catch Formula 1 showdowns at the Miami International Autodrone, and NASCAR races at the Homestead Miami Speedway. Fans of tennis can head just North of the city, to the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, to watch the some of the world's best compete in the Miami Open. Beyond that, golfing, boating, foot-races, and triathlons (to name a few) are regular happenings around the Miami proper.
Lake Placid, New York
While not exactly a city, Lake Placid is a substantial enough region to have hosted two Olympic Games (1932 and 1980), to regularly hold the IRONMAN Lake Placid triathlon, and be the upcoming host of the 2023 Winter World University Games. Beyond the serious competitions, this upstate New York gem has all the necessary infrastructure for recreational/amateur sports in the Adirondack Mountains. This includes but is not limited to: downhill and cross-country skiing, ice-skating, hockey, luge, bobsledding, biathlon, mountain biking, swimming, paddling, climbing, etc. Basically, whatever your preferred sport is, you will probably be able to do it, or watch it, in Lake Placid.
Whether you prefer cheering from the sidelines or rolling up your sleeves and giving it your all, these US cities offer plenty of opportunities for sports-lovers to get their fix. If you are in these areas and want to experience the eruption of joy that comes from a hometeam touchdown, goal, home-run, or buzzer-beater, then you will have plenty of venues to choose from. Also, keep your eye on the calendar for the never-ending list of global events. While you are at it, do not forget about the plethora of facilities to get us non-elites involved in the action. So on your marks, get set…go!