Saturday, July 12, 2008


After watching the Red Wings skate away with their 11th Cup last month, and the Celtics win their 17th NBA title, I started to wonder which city has the most championships won over the course of history, or more importantly, which city had the best "championship percentage". So I put together the chart below, with data courtesy of the official league websites, supplemented by Wikipedia.
A few notes:
-I included seasons and championships from the NFL, AAFC, AFL and CFL for football; NBA and ABA for basketball; NHL for hockey; and World Series champs for baseball.
-I only included cities that had more than 50 total seasons and at least one championship.
-Seasons were assigned to city, not to the franchise. So for example, the Dodgers had 55 seasons and 1 championship in New York (Brooklyn), and 50 seasons and 5 championships in LA.
-The years / championship ratio is based on the current number of teams in that metro area. So for example, the NY/NJ metro area, which averages a championship once every 11+ seasons, should win about four championships every five years, based on the nine teams it currently has.
-I did not include college football or basketball for two reasons:
1) The football championships are mythical, and no one can agree who won in which year. Alabama claims 12 national championships, I'm sure Auburn doesn't recognize any of them;
2) The difficulty in assigning college towns to metro areas. Sure USC, and UCLA are clearly part of the LA metro area, but what about towns like Athens, Ann Arbor, or South Bend?

So, without further ado, here it is:

-Edmonton wins the prize with 18 championships in 88 seasons. Boston, not New York, is the top American city.
-Obviously the addition of the CFL helps the Canadian teams a lot. Edmonton, for example, has won 13 Grey Cups in 59 seasons.
-No surprise that the Original Six cities take four of the top seven spots. Much easier to win championships with only five opponents than in modern leagues of 30 plus teams.
-Seven U.S. cities have won championships in all four sports: New York, Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Philly, Pittsburgh (won an ABA championship) and most recently, LA, with the Ducks' Cup in 07.
-This list further emphasizes a point I was making earlier this year when talking about why SEC football has such a hold on citizens of the south. Professional sports in this country, were, until the last 50 years or so, a phenomenon limited to the Northeast and Midwest. The successful teams on this list are there in part because of the traditions they have established. a young kid growing up in Boston learns about being a Red Sox fan from his parents, who learned from their parents, and so on. That fandom translates to ticket sales, merchandising, and big television contracts. In Atlanta,a young fan learns about being a Tiger fan from his dad who grew up in Michigan, and takes the Braves as an adopted team.
-Finally, as far as long suffering fans, it's hard to argue with Cleveland as the biggest losers on the list, who has only seven championships in over 200 seasons. Of those championships, one came from a team no longer there (the Rams), and four were from a league that no longer exists (the Browns in the AAFC. Philly also has a pretty dubious history, with only 15 championships in 332 seasons, 7 of which came from now departed teams (Warriors and A's). And of course, New Orleans, which has yet to win a professional championship.