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NFL Expansion: Five Exciting Potential Cities To Grow 32-Team League

It’s been 21 years since the last NFL’s last expansion team. Janice McNair purchased the Houston Texans for $600 million in 1999, and the team played its first game in 2002. Now, the organization is the 11th most-valuable franchise, worth $4.7 billion. As the game continues to grow, so has the speculation about the league extending into new territory.

When looking at a new location, the league (and owners) must consider several factors, including population, fan interest, venue and more. Although an NFL expansion is unlikely to happen anytime soon, here are five potential cities that could welcome a new team.

North Of The Border

Toronto is the most logical Canadian city to welcome an NFL franchise. The city has a team in every major sport other than the NFL. The Argonauts, the city’s Canadian Football League team, play at BMO Field, which has roughly 40,000 seats. It’s hard to imagine the NFL playing in a stadium with that low of a capacity. For comparison, Soldier Field is the NFL’s smallest stadium, with room for 61,500 fans.

Outside of a new stadium, one concern would be the level of interest in a new football team. The Argos have the CFL’s worst attendance numbers, averaging only 11,875 fans per game. However, the Raptors and Maple Leafs are both top five in attendance in their respective leagues.

Despite the problems above, it’s fun to imagine a rivalry between a Toronto team and the Buffalo Bills or Detroit Lions. If the NFL expanded to Toronto, the team would see support across Canada, similar to that of the Raptors and Blue Jays.

More NFL At Estadio Azteca

Unlike Toronto, the stadium in Mexico City is massive. The Estadio Azteca can seat over 83,000, more than any current stadium in the NFL.

There have been five NFL games played in Mexico City since 2005, including a matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals last season. The latest game had over 78,000 fans in attendance, showing high interest.

With a population of over nine million, a massive stadium, and proof of support, Mexico City should be discussed in any NFL expansion plans.

Crossroads Of The West

If the NFL wants to expand in the United States, Salt Lake City would definitely be considered. But unfortunately, the state only has two major sports teams, the NBA’s Jazz and the Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake.

The Jazz gets excellent local support, averaging 100% capacity for the 2022-23 season, while Real Salt Lake has averaged over 18,000 fans in their five matches this year. So while a new NFL-caliber stadium would most likely need to be built, it’s time for Utah to have a football team to call its own.

Third Team In Texas

San Antonio is another location in the U.S. that would gladly welcome an NFL franchise. The city showed their desire for professional football during this year’s XFL season. The Brahmas had the league’s second-best average attendance, behind only the St. Louis Battlehawks. There’s even a Twitter account fully dedicated to bringing an NFL team to San Antonio.

As for a potential venue, the Alamodome has a 73,000-seat capacity and is home to the UTSA Roadrunners. In addition, the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors broke an NBA attendance record earlier this year, hosting over 68,000 fans at the stadium. With a number of improvements, it would make for an exciting environment.

Full Overseas Schedule

There’s no questioning the United Kingdom’s love of the NFL. At least one regular-season football game has been played in London every year (other than 2020) since 2007. If the league ever expanded to Europe, London would get a franchise.

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and Wembley Stadium are two possible venues with more than enough seating to satisfy. If there is a negative, it would be working out the time zones and the travel involved with an overseas team. However, giving the country a team of its own will create one of the most unique fan experiences in all of sports.

Final Thoughts

It’s safe to assume the NFL would look at adding teams in the USA before moving to Canada, Mexico, or the United Kingdom. However, the time difference and travel requirements for a team in London make it the most unlikely of the five locations.

One honorable mention left off the list would have to be St. Louis. The Battlehawks saw great numbers all season long in the XFL, and the city had a taste of NFL glory for 20 years.

The current NFL format is near-perfect. 32 organizations make for a nice, even number that divides the teams into two conferences and eight different divisions. But as the league continues to grow in popularity, it isn’t a matter of will the NFL expand, but rather when?

 
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