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Oct 27, 2016
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Oct 27, 2016 - Jan 08, 2026
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Anne Rice's Vampire…

Oct 28 - 28, 2016
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Boo at the Zoo

Oct 28 - 29, 2016
Bring your little ghosts and goblins to Boo at the Zoo Presented by Bryan… more

"Let Them Eat Cake!"…

Oct 27 - Nov 9, 2016
Join us for Exhibition for "Let Them Eat Cake!"  Fine Art… more

Best Football Cities

For Immediate Release
Media Contact:
Bert Sperling
Sperling's BestPlaces

Best Footbal Cities
New Orleans is "America's #1 Football City", hometown to the greatest number of pro football players since 1920, and in the modern era 

Portland, Oregon - January 31, 2013
It may not be our national pastime, but football is probably the most-followed sport in America. It's certainly got the biggest single game - pigskin fanatic or not, chances are you'll be watching the Super Bowl this Sunday.

Cities that can lay claim to the title of Super Bowl Champion change every year, but are there cities where football excellence has been consistent for decades?

We wondered too, and thought about what it means to be a great football town. We decided it's more than wins and losses, championships, stadium attendance, or merchandise sales.

Heck, maybe there isn't even an NFL team in town. We think that it's where there are touch games in the street, an old tire to throw to in every yard, and families spend their entire weekend at the Pop Warner field.

We realized that every NFL player actually represents thousands of families with their football-playing kids who once dreamed of going pro.

So to find the best football cities, we counted the home towns for every single NFL player who played since 1920. Then we took those raw figures and factored in area population to come up with a per-capita rate of NFL player production. The result is the Top American Football Cities of All Time. (note - we focused on the 50 largest metro areas, home to over half of all U.S. residents)

Here's our Top Ten Best Football Cities:
NFL Players per 10 Million Population Total Pros Since 1920
1. New Orleans, LA 26.81 235
2. Birmingham, AL 21.61 162
3. Pittsburgh, PA 20.71 475
4. Jacksonville, FL 20.68 115
5. Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL 20.48 417
6. Houston, TX 19.80 420
7. Memphis, TN 18.98 145
8. Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX 18.24 423
9. Virginia Beach, VA 16.80 137
10. Cleveland, OH 15.93 273
(note: these are metropolitan areas, which include the primary cities and the surrounding suburbs, and the per-capita rate is number of players per 10 million total population over the span of the study.)

Football City, USA is none other than New Orleans, where the big game is being played this year between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers.

Not surprisingly then, we find local players on the two teams in this year's Super Bowl. Ravens safeties Ed Reed and Dawan Landry are from New Orleans' St. Charles parish.. Ravens linebacker Edgar Jones is from Monroe, LA; not one of the 50-largest metros but an area that nonetheless boasts a whopping 38.5 NFL players per 10 million population.

Forty-Niners Frank Gore, Isaac Bruce, and Ricky Jean-Francois are from the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area, which comes in at #5 on our list. Electric Niner receivers Michael Crabtree and Ted Ginn, Jr. are from Dallas (#9) and Cleveland (#10), respectively.

Have you ever noticed how people from the South seem to think their area is the football capital of the world? Well, they might have a point - there's only one non-Southern city on the Top 10 list.

It's interesting to note that at #49 of the top 50 is the New York area. The Big Apple actually boasts the second greatest number of total pro players (843), but on a per-capita basis (6.23) it slips greatly. Sunny Los Angeles has the most overall NFL players since 1920, with 913, which is good for a per-capita rate of 13 players per 10 million population. Providence, RI brings up the rear at #50 with a total of 50 pro players since 1920 for a 4.22 per-capita rate.

The Modern Era (1990 to the present)
All-time stats are interesting, but what about the current generation? Do the all-time trends hold up in recent times? Turns out they do, and New Orleans is even more clearly Football City, USA when we look at NFL players produced since 1990.

The Big Easy has produced 111 pro players in that time period, for a whopping rate of 42.17 per 10 million population. The rest of the Modern Era list looks similar to the All-Time list, with Atlanta, GA and Richmond, VA bumping Pittsburgh and Dallas out of the top 10.

The New England towns of Providence, RI (#50) and Boston, MA (#49) bring up the rear in per-capita production since 1990 (amongst largest 50 metro areas).

As you're watching the Super Bowl this year, think about these results and pay attention to the unlikely heroes that emerge from the shadows to take their place in history. There's a good chance they'll be from one of the cities on this list.

Bert Sperling has been helping people find their own "Best Place" to live, work and retire for more than 30 years. His firm, Sperling's BestPlaces, puts facts in the hands of the public so they can make better decisions about best places to live, work, retire, play, or relocate. His bestselling books, Cities Ranked and Rated and Best Places to Raise Your Family, are published by John Wiley & Sons. More information about Bert and his work is available