Cities With the Longest Active Championship Droughts

Credit: Doug Lemke/Shutterstock

In the world of major professional sports, some cities are known as consistent winners, while others have long histories of bad luck in finding a sports championship.

A city’s sporting mishap can take many different forms. It could be a decade-long, mythical losing streak, like the 86- and 108-year World Series droughts of the Boston Red Sox (ending in 2004) and the Chicago Cubs (ending in 2016). It could be temptingly close misses, like the Buffalo Bills’ streak of four Super Bowl losses in the 1990s. And in some cases, all of a city’s sports franchises could be struggling at once, as in Cleveland, which endured a 52-year championship drought, from the Browns’ 1964 NFL title to the Cavaliers’ NBA championship in 2016.

No city right now compares to Cleveland’s legendary sports bane, but many pro sports markets have nonetheless experienced lengthy championship droughts in recent years. And some of these droughts are particularly surprising. For example, in Canada — the birthplace of hockey — there are seven cities with NHL franchises, but none of them have brought home a Stanley Cup in the past 30 years.

However, most cities have recently seen some form of success in a major sport. In the past 25 years, 62.7% of cities have won a championship in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, or MLS. About a quarter (25.5%) have never won a championship, but an important caveat is that most of these cities haven’t had professional sports franchises for very long. Each of the traditional “Big Four” sports leagues expanded into new markets in the 1990s and early 2000s, while Major League Soccer only existed since 1996. Of course, having played more seasons makes it more likely that a team will eventually win a championship. But cities that have been franchised lately have an additional disadvantage, as more teams now have to compete than in previous years.

For current droughts, Minnesota leads all states in the US with the longest championship drought. Although there is a team in each of the five major sports, it has been more than three decades since Minnesota last won a title when the MLB Twins won in 1991. Tennessee is also notable for its struggles in professional sports. Even with four total franchises between Nashville and Memphis, the state has never won a professional sports title in 25 years.

At the Metro level, a city with no professional sports title currently stands out. Between the Sabers of the NHL (formed in 1970) and the Bills of the NFL (formed in 1960), Buffalo has never seen a sports championship in 62 years with teams. Buffalo’s drought outpaces the next highest city by nine years, and only two other cities besides Buffalo have championship droughts that last longer than 50 years.

Researchers from HotDog.com ranked US and Canadian metro areas according to active droughts in professional sports championships, including the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS. Only locations with at least one currently active professional sports team were included in the analysis. Additionally, each location must have had at least one professional sports team in all years of its championship drought for this losing streak to count.

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

Metropolises with the longest droughts in the championship

Photo Credit: The Swift Butterfly/Shutterstock

15. Memphis, TN-MS-AR

  • Active Championship Drought: 21 years
  • Last champion team: N / A
  • Total number of professional sports championships: 0
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 1

Photo credit: jdross75 / Shutterstock

14. Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN

  • Active Championship Drought: 25 years
  • Last champion team: N / A
  • Total number of professional sports championships: 0
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 3

Photo Credit: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

13. Jacksonville, FL

  • Active Championship Drought: 27 years
  • Last champion team: N / A
  • Total number of professional sports championships: 0
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 1

Photo credit: meunierd / Shutterstock

12. Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC

  • Active Championship Drought: 27 years
  • Last champion team: N / A
  • Total number of professional sports championships: 0
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 3

Credit: BakerJarvis/Shutterstock

11. Montreal, QC

  • Active Championship Drought: 30 years
  • Last champion team: Montreal Canadiens (1992)
  • Total number of professional sports championships: 25
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 2

Photo Credit: Natalia Pushchina/Shutterstock

10. Ottawa-Gatineau, ON-QC

  • Active Championship Drought: 30 years
  • Last champion team: Ottawa Senators (1926)
  • Total number of professional sports championships: 4
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 1

Photo credit: nikitsin.smugmug.com / Shutterstock

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

  • Active Championship Drought: 31 years
  • Last champion team: Minnesota Twins (1991)
  • Total number of professional sports championships: 7
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 5

Credit: aceshot1/Shutterstock

8. Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN

  • Active Championship Drought: 32 years
  • Last champion team: Cincinnati Reds (1990)
  • Total number of professional sports championships: 5
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 3

Credit: Kohnor/Shutterstock

7. Edmonton, AB

  • Active Championship Drought: 33 years
  • Last champion team: Edmonton Oiler (1989)
  • Total number of professional sports championships: 5
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 1

Photo Credit: Songquan Deng/Shutterstock

6. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL

  • Active Championship Drought: 33 years
  • Last champion team: N / A
  • Total number of professional sports championships: 0
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 2

Image credit: SF/Shutterstock

5. Calgary, AB

  • Active Championship Drought: 34 years
  • Last champion team: Calgary Flames (1988)
  • Total number of professional sports championships: 1
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 1

Photo Credit: Andriy Blokhin/Shutterstock

4. Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom, CA

  • Active Championship Drought: 37 years
  • Last champion team: N / A
  • Total number of professional sports championships: 0
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 1

Photo Credit: Songquan Deng/Shutterstock

3. Vancouver, BC

  • Active Championship Drought: 52 years
  • Last champion team: N / A
  • Total number of professional sports championships: 0
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 2

Photo Credit: Christopher Penler/Shutterstock

2. San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA

  • Active Championship Drought: 53 years
  • Last champion team: N / A
  • Total number of professional sports championships: 0
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 1

Credit: Richard Cavalleri/Shutterstock

1. Buffalo Cheektowaga, NY

  • Active Championship Drought: 62 years
  • Last champion team: N / A
  • Total number of professional sports championships: 0
  • Total active professional sports franchises: 2

Methodology and detailed results

Researchers from HotDog.com ranked US and Canadian metro areas based on active droughts at professional sports championships. Locations have been credited with championships for championships won by teams branded as originating from the location at the time the championship was won. All NFL championships since the NFL’s inception in 1920 were included; all NBA championships since the NBA’s inception in 1946 have been included; all World Series dating back to 1903 have been included; all NHL championships since the NHL’s inception in 1917 were included; and all MLS championships since MLS’ inaugural season in 1996 were included. Each sports season is denoted by the year in which the season began. Only metros with at least one active NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, or MLS team were considered. Only streaks with consecutive years of professional sporting activity at a location were considered.

Data is from pro-football-reference.com, basketball-reference.com, baseball-reference.com, hockey-reference.com and fbref.com. In the event of a tie, the location was ranked higher with fewer overall Profession Championships. Further ties were broken by the team with the most active professional sports franchises.

Leave a Comment