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Cities With the Longest Active Championship Droughts

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In the world of major professional sports, some cities are known as consistent winners, while others have a long history of hard luck in the search for a sports championship.

A city’s sports misfortunes can come in different forms. It could be a decades-long, mythic streak of losing, like the 86- and 108-year World Series droughts of the Boston Red Sox (ended in 2004) and the Chicago Cubs (ended in 2016). It could be tantalizingly close misses, like the Buffalo Bills’ run of four straight Super Bowl losses in the 1990s.

And in some cases, it could be all of a city’s sports franchises struggling simultaneously, like in Cleveland, which experienced a 52-year championship drought from the Browns’ 1964 NFL title to the Cavaliers’ 2016 NBA championship.

No city currently compares to Cleveland’s legendary sports curse, but many pro sports markets have nonetheless seen lengthy championship droughts in recent years. And some of these droughts are especially surprising.

For example, Canada — the birthplace of hockey — is home to seven cities with NHL franchises, but none of them have brought home a Stanley Cup in the last 30 years.

Most Cities Have Recent Championships

Most cities, however, have tasted recent success in a major sport in one form or another. Over the last 25 years, 62.7% of cities have won a championship in either the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, or MLS.

Around a quarter (25.5%) have never won a championship. But there is one important caveat: most of these cities have not had pro sports franchises for very long. Each of the traditional “Big Four” sports leagues expanded into new markets throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, while Major League Soccer has only existed since 1996.

Having played more seasons naturally makes it more likely that a team would win a championship at some point. But cities that have been awarded franchises recently have an additional disadvantage, because there are now more teams to compete against than in earlier years.

About a quarter of metros with an active professional sports franchise have never won a championship

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State Droughts

For current droughts, Minnesota leads all states in the US for the longest championship drought. Despite having a team in each of the five major sports, it has been more than three decades since Minnesota last saw a title, when the MLB’s Twins won in 1991.

Tennessee also stands out for its pro sports struggles. Even with four total franchises between Nashville and Memphis, the state has never won a professional sports title in 25 years.

Despite having 5 pro teams, Minnesota has not won a single title in over 30 years

City Droughts

At the metro level, one city currently stands out for the length of time without a professional sports title. Between the NHL’s Sabres (established 1970) and the NFL’s Bills (established 1960), Buffalo has never experienced a sports championship in 62 years of having teams.

Buffalo’s drought tops the next-highest city by nine years, and only two other cities besides Buffalo have championship droughts longer than 50 years.

Researchers at HotDog.com ranked US and Canadian metropolitan areas according to active professional sports championship droughts, including the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, and MLS. Only locations with at least one currently active professional sports team were considered in the analysis.

Additionally, each location must have had at least one professional sports team operating in all years of its championship drought for that losing streak to count.

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Metros With the Longest Active Championship Droughts

Here are the US and Canadian metros with the longest active championship droughts.

Memphis, TN
Photo Credit: The Speedy Butterfly / Shutterstock

15. Memphis, TN-MS-AR

  • Active championship drought: 21 years
  • Most recent championship team: N/A
  • Total professional sports championships: 0
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 1
Nashville, TN
Photo Credit: jdross75 / Shutterstock

14. Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN

  • Active championship drought: 25 years
  • Most recent championship team: N/A
  • Total professional sports championships: 0
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 3

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Jacksonville, FL
Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

13. Jacksonville, FL

  • Active championship drought: 27 years
  • Most recent championship team: N/A
  • Total professional sports championships: 0
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 1
Charlotte, NC
Photo Credit: meunierd / Shutterstock

12. Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC

  • Active championship drought: 27 years
  • Most recent championship team: N/A
  • Total professional sports championships: 0
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 3
Montreal, QC
Photo Credit: BakerJarvis / Shutterstock

11. Montreal, QC

  • Active championship drought: 30 years
  • Most recent championship team: Montreal Canadiens (1992)
  • Total professional sports championships: 25
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 2
Ottawa, ON
Photo Credit: Natalia Pushchina / Shutterstock

10. Ottawa-Gatineau, ON-QC

  • Active championship drought: 30 years
  • Most recent championship team: Ottawa Senators (1926)
  • Total professional sports championships: 4
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 1
Minneapolis, MN
Photo Credit: nikitsin.smugmug.com / Shutterstock

9. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

  • Active championship drought: 31 years
  • Most recent championship team: Minnesota Twins (1991)
  • Total professional sports championships: 7
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 5
Cincinnati, OH
Photo Credit: aceshot1 / Shutterstock

8. Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN

  • Active championship drought: 32 years
  • Most recent championship team: Cincinnati Reds (1990)
  • Total professional sports championships: 5
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 3
Edmonton, AB
Photo Credit: Kohnor / Shutterstock

7. Edmonton, AB

  • Active championship drought: 33 years
  • Most recent championship team: Edmonton Oilers (1989)
  • Total professional sports championships: 5
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 1
Orlando, FL
Photo Credit: Songquan Deng / Shutterstock

6. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL

  • Active championship drought: 33 years
  • Most recent championship team: N/A
  • Total professional sports championships: 0
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 2
Calgary, AB
Photo Credit: S-F / Shutterstock

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5. Calgary, AB

  • Active championship drought: 34 years
  • Most recent championship team: Calgary Flames (1988)
  • Total professional sports championships: 1
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 1
Sacramento, CA
Photo Credit: Andriy Blokhin / Shutterstock

4. Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom, CA

  • Active championship drought: 37 years
  • Most recent championship team: N/A
  • Total professional sports championships: 0
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 1
Vancouver, BC
Photo Credit: Songquan Deng / Shutterstock

3. Vancouver, BC

  • Active championship drought: 52 years
  • Most recent championship team: N/A
  • Total professional sports championships: 0
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 2
San Diego, CA
Photo Credit: Christopher Penler / Shutterstock

2. San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA

  • Active championship drought: 53 years
  • Most recent championship team: N/A
  • Total professional sports championships: 0
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 1
Buffalo, NY
Photo Credit: Richard Cavalleri / Shutterstock

1. Buffalo-Cheektowaga, NY

  • Active championship drought: 62 years
  • Most recent championship team: N/A
  • Total professional sports championships: 0
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 2

Methodology and Detailed Findings

Researchers at HotDog.com ranked US and Canadian metropolitan areas according to active professional sports championship droughts. Locations were attributed wins for championships won by teams that were branded to be from the location at the time it took place.

The following championships were included:

  • NFL from 1920
  • NBA from 1946
  • MLB from 1903
  • NHL from 1917
  • MLS from 1996.

Each sports season is referred to by the year that the season started. Only metros with at least one active NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, or MLS team were considered. Only streaks with consecutive years of professional sports operating within a location were considered.

In the event of a tie, the location with fewer total professional championships was ranked higher. Further ties were broken by the team with the most active professional sports franchises.

The data was sourced from pro-football-reference.com, basketball-reference.com, baseball-reference.com, hockey-reference.com, and fbref.com.

Featured Photo Credit: Doug Lemke / Shutterstock

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By Frank Moraes

Frank loves video. How else could he watch one to two films every day?

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0 replies on “Cities With the Longest Active Championship Droughts

The Buffalo Bills won AFL championships in 1964 and 1965 prior to Super Bowls between the two football leagues. To say Buffalo never won a championship is debatable. But if you’re not going to count those as championships then you have to start counting years with the start of Super Bowls.

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