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The 7 Cities With the Longest Sports Championship Droughts

July 29, 2014

Updated March 12, 2019

When you think “decades without a championship,” you probably think of the Chicago Cubs, who haven’t won a World Series in more than 100 years. That got us thinking: what city has gone the longest without a championship in all of the Big 4 sports leagues (NBA, NHL, MLB, NFL) put together? (Note: We only considered cities with teams in at least two leagues.)

Longest Sports Championship Droughts

MILWAUKEE, 48 YEARS

With stellar play from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when he was still known as Lew Alcindor, the Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA title in 1971. The Brewers have never won the World Series, but when the Braves played there, they won it…way back in 1957.

CINCINNATI, 29 YEARS

The Reds were the first all-professional baseball team, and were a major contender in baseball in the 1970s, when teams led by Pete Rose reached the World Series four times, winning twice. The team’s last appearance, and win came in 1990. That marks the last Cincinnati championship—the last time the NFL’s Bengals played (and lost) in a Super Bowl was in 1989. 

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL, 28 YEARS

All four major sports teams in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul go by “Minnesota” to make things easier, but they haven’t had much sports luck in a while. The last big sports triumph was when the Twins won the World Series in 1991. The Minnesota North Stars of the NHL never won a Stanley Cup before they moved to Dallas, and its replacement, the Minnesota Wild, are yet to hoist that famous trophy. Over in the NBA, the Minnesota Timberwolves reached the playoffs just once in 14 years, a far cry from the days of the Minneapolis Lakers, who won three league titles (1952–1954) before heading to Los Angeles.

TORONTO, 26 YEARS

Toronto is represented in all of the Big 4 except for the NFL. The storied Toronto Maple Leafs NHL team haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967, and baseball’s Blue Jays won their second of two World Series in 1993. That’s a championship drought of 26 years. (If you factor in the Canadian Football League, however, Toronto isn’t sports-starved at all. The Argonauts have won the Grey Cup 17 times, as recently as 2017.)

ATLANTA, 24 YEARS

Atlanta has teams in all four big leagues, but has won few championships. The Falcons have never won a Super Bowl, the Hawks have never won the NBA title (in Atlanta; they did when they were based in St. Louis), and the NHL’s Thrashers moved to Winnipeg in 2011 after seven uneventful seasons. The Atlanta Braves, however, won the World Series…but not since 1995. 

All-time longest wait: CLEVELAND, 51 YEARS

Cleveland rocks…but not in sports. In basketball, the Cavaliers have LeBron James on the roster and went to the NBA Finals in 2007 and 2015, but lost both times. Baseball’s Cleveland Indians—so famous for losing that it was the premise of the 1989 comedy Major League—last won a World Series in 1948. Since the NFL and AFL merged in the late ‘60s, the Cleveland Browns have never contested a Super Bowl. However, it was a constant contender in the pre-merger NFL days in the mid-20th century, appearing in 11 championship games and winning four times. The last win came in late 1964…and Cleveland would endure more than five decades of athletic futility thereafter. Finally, in 2016, the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers won the 2016 NBA Finals over the favored Golden State Warriors after rallying from a 3 games to 1 deficit. It’s the first time in NBA history a team has come back from being down that far to then win it all. 

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Rob Anderson
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What about Buffalo? They’ve never won a championship either, in the NHL or NFL.

Grumpster
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Grumpster

Lew Alcindor? Never knew that.

Jim Mahoney
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Jim Mahoney

What didn’t you know? That his name was first Lew Alcindor? He changed it to Kareem Abdul Jabbar when he converted to Islam.

Frankie G
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Frankie G

Buffalo Bills won the AFL championship two years in a row in the mid-60s, and of course the AFC championship four times in the 90s.

KidDragon
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KidDragon

The Chargers have won an AFL Championship 1963, and an AFC Championship in 1994. The Padres have won a National LeagueChampionship in 1984 & 1998. But as for Major Recognized pinnacle titles, none.

rkjsjuehu gkgjgugj
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rkjsjuehu gkgjgugj

By “championship”, the author means the very TOP. NOT things such as AFC Championship or a National League Champion. Both of those are second place or lower.

R Lewis
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R Lewis

Cincinnati won its last title in 1990 putting them on the list ahead of Atlanta and Minneapolis.

Jacob Witul
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Jacob Witul

The Thrashers played in Atlanta until 2011, not 2007.

Jim Ragan
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Jim Ragan

You left out the city of Houston (they should be tied with Atlanta) since they last hoisted a pro championship when the Rockets won the NBA Title in 1995, the same year the Atlanta Braves last won the World Series.

frank
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frank

The Browns won an NFL championship in 1964 with Jim Brown, pre super bowl era but very much a championship. That would put Cleveland at 51 years.

brindle85
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brindle85

what about charlotte, nc?!

Kevin James Shay
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This is an interesting list. But Houston certainly should not be on the list of cities with multiple Big Four teams that have never had a sports title. The rockets won in 1994 & 95. And San Diego and Buffalo should not be on the list of never having a title since the Chargers won the AFC championship in 1963 and the Bills twice, the last in 1965. Those are legitimate titles recognized by Wikipedia and others since the NFC refused to play the AFC champ until 1967. But those cities should be on the main list with San Diego… Read more »

Kevin James Shay
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If you did a top ten list of cities having at least two Big Four pro sports teams with the longest championship droughts, it would be:
San Diego 1963
Cleveland 1964
Buffalo 1965
Milwaukee 1971
Cincinnati 1990
Minneapolis-St. Paul 1991
Washington DC 1992
Toronto 1993
Atlanta 1995
Houston 1995

Nashville and Charlotte could be separately noted as never having titles but pointing out that they have only had multiple sports since 1998 and 1995, respectively.

Kevin James Shay
Guest

And Montreal might be on the list since they did have two major sports teams until 2004 and the Canadians last won a cup in 1993. So it would be a top 11 list.

Albus dumbldor
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Albus dumbldor

Since the cavs just won thatwould put buffalo at the top of the list

Mike Bourg
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Mike Bourg

Houston won 2 NBA titles in the 90’s so you can take them off your list of cities that have never won.

Mark
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Mark

Houston won championships in the 90’s with Hakeem in the NBA…

Mark Evensen
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Mark Evensen

After the Cav’s NBA championship last night, the city that’s endured the most seasons without a major sport championship is San Diego. Since the Chargers won the 1963 AFL championship, the Chargers, Padres, Clippers and Rockets have played a combined 109 seasons without a championship among them. Of course, win or go home is not so dire when home is a balmy 74 degrees year round.

Rebecca
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Rebecca

Minneapolis-St. Paul needs to be taken off the list. The MN Lynx have brought home 3 championships in 5 years.

Scott
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Scott

How about Charlotte? They have never had a championship. In case the author isn’t tracking, the Carolina Panthers are in Charlotte…right in the middle of the city.

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