A large population in a city or a metro area doesn’t necessarily mean you get to have a team in the NBA, NHL, MLB or NFL. For example, places like Austin in Texas, quite close to one million people, have to settle for the Texas Longhorns in College Sports instead of a serious pro-team, although I’m not sure the people there see it that way.
Other places like El Paso in Texas, Las Vegas, Tucson in Arizona and Albuquerque in New Mexico have to settle for College Sports and minor league baseball instead of the “real deal”, because there just isn’t room for everyone in the world of the major sport leagues, although sometimes other financial reasons get involved.
Austin is the 13th most populated city in the United States, but unlike most big Metros in Texas (Dallas, Houston, San Antonio), it doesn’t have a single team in the Big four of sports in North America. College Football is amateurish by definition, but its probably the second most popular league in the nation, and most of the focus in Austin goes to the Texas Longhorns, and especially their football team. There are minor-league proffesional teams in the city, like the Round Rock Express (AAA), the Austin Outlaws (WFA), Austin Toros (D-League), Texas Stars (AHL) and the Austin Aztex (PDL).
El Paso, Texas
With a population of 665,568 , El Paso is the 19th largest city in the United States. Like Austin, the university (UTEP) offers the biggest sporting attraction in the city, although the UTEP Miners aren’t an athletic powerhouse like the Longhorns, participating in Conference-USA. The city does have a few minor league teams – El Paso Diablos (Independent Baseball Division), El Paso Patriots (PDL) and the El Paso Rhinos (WSHL).
Louisville is a Sports town, but a College Sports town, with most of the focus on the Lousiville Cardinals, probably more in basketball than in football. The Louisville Cardinals rank first nationally in percent to capacity attendance annually, with Freedom Hall averaging better than 100% for 10 straight years; The Louisville market has ranked first in ratings for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament every year since 1999. They do have some minor teams in the city, with the Louisville Bats (International League), Kentucky Stickhorses (North American Lacrosse League), River City Rovers (PDL) and Kentucky Xtreme (Continental Indoor Football League).
Las Vegas, Nevada
Despite being home to over half a million people and a tourist attraction for millions, Las Vegas is always potentially getting a professional sports team in a major league, but not really. The proximity to legalized gambling causes to much unrest and fear among those who run the leagues, so the UNLV teams (playing outside the city), the Las Vegas 51’s (AAA) and the Las Vegas Locomotives of the UFL are all the city has to offer.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque is the biggest city in the state of New Mexico, but have only two minor-league teams to show for professional sports, and the New Mexico Lobos football and basketball teams drawing most of the attention in the city. The Albuquerque Isotopes, a AAA team, and the New Mexico Mustangs from the NAHL is the rest of it.
Tucson holds over 520,000 in population, but the main attraction in town is the University of Arizona, specifically the Wildcats’ basketball team. There are the Tucson Padres (AAA), but they might be on their way out, maybe to New Mexico. Tucson Thunder Kats are an expansion indoor football team in the American Indoor Football Association, which will begin to play in 2014; and the Tucson Monsoon a member of the Independent Women’s Football League.