Even if the NFL looks perfectly balanced with 32 teams and eight divisions, that doesn’t mean there can’t be potential NFL expansion team ideas.
Word on the street is that NFL expansion rules are being discussed inside league offices with the possibility of the league expanding to as many as 40 teams being on the table.
In other words, there could be over half a dozen NFL expansion teams in the not-too-distant future.
The league undoubtedly has some potential NFL expansion cities in mind while there are surely some cities trying to position themselves to get a franchise.
NFL expansion team ideas
Of course, while all of this is speculation, at least for now, it doesn’t mean that we can’t kick around some NFL expansion team ideas just for fun.
While the possibilities are almost endless with some cities you might not expect bound to get some consideration, we wanted to share our 15 favorite potential NFL expansion cities just in case the league decides to add eight new teams at some point.
It’s not like St. Louis hasn’t had an NFL franchise before, so it’s not a stretch that they would be high up on the list of potential expansion cities.
St. Louis is a wonderful Midwest city that already supports both a pro baseball and a pro hockey franchise. There is also the potential for a natural rivalry with Kansas City should an NFL franchise return to St. Louis.
It’s only been a couple of years since the Raiders left Oakland and the city would surely love a replacement franchise. The Oakland fans didn’t exactly what to see the Raiders leave, so they would surely embrace an expansion franchise.
Keep in mind that the 49ers don’t exactly play their games close to the two cities in the Bay Area. With a new downtown stadium, a new franchise in Oakland could thrive for a long time and likely be in a division with either the 49ers or the Raiders.
It’s no secret that the NFL would love to have a full-time franchise in London.
Obviously, travel would be a little more difficult, but the NFL could arrange for the London franchise to play mostly East Coast teams on the road to reduce travel as much as possible. In terms of a stadium, there are already multiple existing options, including Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which is only a couple of years old and was built with hosting NFL games in mind.
It still surprises many people that Austin doesn’t have a pro sports franchise out of Austin FC, an expansion team in MLS.
After all, it’s the capital of Texas and has no problem hosting tens of thousands of fans for football games on Saturdays. The city is far enough from both Dallas and Houston to create its own fanbase that’s separate from those cities. Austin is such a fun and vibrant city already that putting a football stadium downtown would be a great addition to an already amazing city.
Granted, Omaha isn’t going to be at the top of any list for potential NFL expansion cities.
But there’s no doubt that they love football in that part of the country. The city is almost perfectly situated between Denver, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Kansas City, so there are fans from multiple states that would likely pledge their allegiance to an expansion team in Omaha.
In addition to London, Toronto is another option for the NFL to cross international borders.
The caveat is that it’s almost too close to Buffalo and already has a team in the CFL. Since the NFL and CFL play on different size fields, sharing a stadium might be tough. That might force Toronto to build an NFL-specific stadium while also asking fans to take some of the focus off of the Argonauts. On the other hand, it’s an NFL franchise that all Canadians could get behind.
Much like Oakland and St. Louis, it’s not that far-fetched to see the NFL return to San Diego.
Of course, building a new stadium would be a prerequisite for an expansion franchise. But if San Diego can get over that hurdle, it’d be easy to put a team there.
Adding another NFL franchise in the south would be ideal for the NFL, making Memphis a great option for a new team.
The city already supports an NBA franchise and a semi-major college football team. There’s also no question that it loves football. A new franchise could play in the Liberty Bowl right away and perhaps look to build a new stadium down the line.
The NFL has played the Pro Bowl in Orlando before, so a full-time franchise isn’t out of the question.
The stadium formerly known as the Citrus Bowl has more than enough capacity to host an NFL franchise, and the same is true of the population in the Orlando Metropolitan area, especially once the snowbirds come down in late fall. While four pro teams in the state of Florida sounds like a lot, the Sunshine State does love football.
Conventional wisdom says Mexico City is another potential destination for a team outside the US, but Monterrey is actually more reasonable if the NFL wants an expansion franchise in Mexico.
Monterrey is much closer to the American border by over 500 miles, so travel could be an issue in Mexico City. The high elevation of Mexico City also makes Monterrey a more reasonable location if the NFL is set on putting a team in Mexico.
Anybody who’s ever visited Portland knows that it’s a special city.
The sports fans there have supported the Trail Blazers for a long time and go crazy for the Timbers of MLS. On some level, it’d be nice to give the Seahawks a close geographic rival. But Portland would also make a good home for an NFL expansion franchise for other reasons.
Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City is bigger than most people realize and would have more than enough fans to support an NFL team.
Keep in mind, the state of Utah has multiple college football teams that have a strong following. A Salt Lake franchise would also attract fans from nearby states whose closest NFL franchise is either Denver or Las Vegas.
If the NFL wants to put a team in Canada, Vancouver should be given just as much consideration as Toronto.
It’s close to the border and is also a candidate to give Seattle a geographic rival. Of course, there is a CFL team already in Vancouver, which is one potential drawback.
San Antonio already has the Alamodome, so an NFL franchise would have a home stadium already in place. It’s also a city that has long supported an NBA team, so there’s no doubt that in football-loving Texas, San Antonio could also support an NFL franchise.
Odds are, the NFL wouldn’t want teams in both Austin and San Antonio, so it’ll be likely one of the other. The fact that San Antonio is a little further from both Houston and Dallas might make it a better candidate than the capital city of Austin.
Not enough people recognize just how big Columbus is. The city is bigger than both Cleveland and Cincinnati, not to mention growing at a much faster rate.
It’s also located right in the middle of those two other Ohio cities that already have NFL teams, so the fanbase would be big enough. However, much like Austin and a few other cities, would an NFL franchise be able to compete in a city that already has a big-time college program that gets the attention of a pro team?