Five North American professional sports teams egregiously do not match with their namesake

November 8, 2023 — by George Hu
Graphic by George Hu
The 49ers logo indicates that they play in San Francisco, but they actually play in Santa Clara.
A local example: The San Francisco 49ers play at Levi’s Stadium, which is located in Santa Clara, 45 miles away from San Francisco. 

It makes sense that the names of most professional sports teams begin with the city, state or region that they are located in. The arena of the Los Angeles Lakers is located in Los Angeles, and the New York Yankees’s stadium is located in New York City.  

However, this is surprisingly not always the case. Nearly a third of all NFL teams do not play in the city that they are named after.

The most shocking examples include the Kansas City Chiefs in Missouri, Kansas City Royals in Missouri, Atlanta Braves in Cumberland, Ga., Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, and San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara.

Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas City Royals

The Kansas City Royals and Kansas City Chiefs are both located in the city of Kansas City. While the “Kansas” in the names of the two teams implies that they play in Kansas, they both actually play in Missouri. Strangely enough, Kansas City is in both Missouri and Kansas, despite the city’s name implying that it is only in Kansas. 

Originally, in the early 1800s, Kansas City began where the Kansas and Missouri river intersected, eventually expanding westward and eastward. In 1854, the rivers were chosen as the boundary of Kansas and Missouri, causing Kansas City to be in both states.

Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Angels

While the Los Angeles Angels and Atlanta Braves do play in the same state as their namesake city, they play 24 miles away in Anaheim and 12 miles away in Cumberland, respectively.

The Angels have gone through several name changes in the past, from the California Angels in 1997 to the Anaheim Angels. Angel Stadium, which has been their home since 1966, was extensively renovated in 1997 and the city of Anaheim lended $30 million for the renovation, with the condition that the team’s name has to include “Anaheim.” In 2005, Angels owner Arturo Moreno decided to change the name of the Angels to the Los Angeles Angels for increased name recognition, as the Los Angeles MLB market is the second-largest media market.

The Braves have been called the Atlanta Braves since 1966 and played their home games in Atlanta until the start of the 2017 MLB season. Much like the Angels, they moved to play at Truist Park in Cumberland in 2017 for monetary reasons. Cobb County, the county that Cumberland is located in, agreed to use tax money to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to build a stadium for the Braves to play in

San Francisco 49ers

Similarly, with the name of the San Francisco 49ers, one may think that the 49ers play in San Francisco, but they are instead located in Santa Clara, 45 miles away. 

The 49ers moved from their old stadium in San Francisco, Candlestick Park, to their current stadium in Santa Clara, Levi’s Stadium, in 2014. Candlestick Park was first opened in 1960 and over the years, it began to deteriorate fast. There were many internal stadium problems, such as not having dining hubs and retail centers and having severe windy conditions, making it less advanced than other modern-day stadiums. Additionally, San Francisco did not offer a land deal worth staying for. As a result, the team decided to ultimately leave the city that they have called home since 1946 in 2014.

These namesakes are not accurate and they do not harm anyone, but it’s fun to look at these sports teams and understand the history of their misleading names.

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