Possible NFL expansion cities seem to be a topic of discussion nearly every offseason. With the immense popularity of the league, speculation runs wild with ideas of one or more new franchises. Whether it means returning to a city that once hosted a team or traveling overseas to reach a more global audience, the NFL may look to add to the 32 teams that fans have become so accustomed to.
Potential NFL expansion cities
The NFL has placed a significant emphasis on increasing its global presence. Since the NFL International Series‘ inception in 2007, over 30 games have been played outside of the United States. With most of these games taking place in London, it makes sense for the league to expand internationally.
The introduction of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in 2019 brought an even greater appeal to the games played in London. This spectacle of a stadium creates an incredible atmosphere that is seen throughout NFL stadiums in the United States. The idea of expanding overseas is massive for the NFL, but one that could garner an even stronger global audience.
Austin has somehow become an afterthought with major sports leagues. The city only recently became home to the MLS’ Austin FC. The capital of Texas, home of the Texas Longhorns, and one of the largest cities in the state, Austin could become an exciting location for an NFL franchise. Located over 160 miles from both Houston and Dallas, Austin may be far enough away to create a fan base of its own. Austin can easily fill stadiums, as seen with the Longhorns. If the NFL decides to expand in the Lone Star State, Austin or San Antonio could become prime locations.
One of the largest college football towns in the country, Columbus, Ohio, could be a possible home to an NFL franchise. The geographic proximity of Columbus to other franchises such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, and Pittsburgh Steelers could create an intriguing rivalry element.
The Ohio State Buckeyes dominate sports in Columbus, but that fandom and loyalty could benefit an NFL franchise. The focus on collegiate athletics could be cause for concern, but the Columbus Crew of the MLS and Columbus Blue Jackets of the NHL have created a strong following.
Columbus is by far the most populated city in Ohio, so developing a large fan base could be quite successful. The NFL may consider other options for expansion, but one cannot look past the potential that Columbus offers.
The first city many may suggest for a Canadian NFL franchise is Toronto. The city has become a destination for teams across the various major sports leagues. The main issue with expanding to Toronto is its proximity to Buffalo. The two cities are about 100 miles from each other, and the Bills are one of the best teams in the league. If Toronto wanted a team, the city would be in heavy competition with the Bills.
This brings in Montreal, the city with the second largest population in Canada. Montreal is far away enough to have its own market and has already become a popular sports city with the Canadiens in the NHL. The NFL will have to deal with the CFL, but there is no reason the two cannot coexist. Montreal could become a legitimate location if the league decides to expand in Canada.
Could the league return to St. Louis after the Rams left the city for the bright lights of Los Angeles? St. Louis was involved with the NFL for a long time before the Rams decided to relocate, and the league could revisit the city in the future.
Despite not having an NFL team at the moment, St. Louis has remained a strong sports city with teams such as the Blues in the NHL and the Cardinals in the MLB. The one thing that could stand in the way of an expansion in St. Louis is the idea of building a new stadium. If the city can build a new stadium, St. Louis could be at the top of the NFL’s list of expansion cities.