The AFL sparked tremendous growth in major professional football. In 1959, only 11 cities could say they were the home to a major professional football team. In 1970, when the AFL and NFL merged, 25 cities held franchises.
For as many cities the AFL brought football to, there were just as many left behind.
Listed below are all the cities that had applied or had been mentioned by major media outlets as potential locations for AFL expansion teams. The list also includes locations that were awarded expansion teams. The list only includes AFL teams. For a list of proposed expansion in the NFL click here, or the AAFC click here.
The list is an ongoing project. I have created an extensive list, but I imagine there is still some missing information. If you have any cited information or leads please contact me.
I wanted to keep the list rather uncomplicated, but some explanation is still needed.
Here is an explanation of each expansion era.
1960-1962 Expansion Era – The formative years of the AFL. An era in which expansion was widely speculated, but never accomplished.
1963-1969 Expansion Era – The era which ultimately led to expansion in 1966 and 1968.
Each location has a small description explaining their bid for a team. Here is a guide on how to interpret those descriptions.
Founding Member - The team’s first season was in 1960. The AFL’s inaugural season.
Joined the AFL – A team that joined the AFL.
Aborted Plans to Join the AFL – A location that the AFL granted a team to, but for one reason or another never fielded a squad.
Candidate for Expansion – A location mentioned by the AFL, government officials, and/or the mainstream media as a potential location for a team. Also includes locations that applied for teams.
Proposed Founding Member – A location mentioned by the AFL, and/or mainstream media as a potential location for a founding franchise in the AFL.
Proposed AFL Expansion
The list is organized by state, and then location in chronological order. Includes locations that were awarded teams, and the original composition of the AFL.
Sources: Click here to view the sources I used to compile this list. It’s a lengthy document but it’s organized by state and location.
Alabama | Arizona | California | Colorado | District of Columbia | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Illinois | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Missouri | New York | Ohio | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Tennessee | Texas | Washington | Wisconsin
|Birmingham||Candidate for Expansion||1963-1969 Expansion Era|
|Phoenix||Candidate for Expansion||1963-1969 Expansion Era|
|Los Angeles, CA Metro Area|
|Los Angeles Chargers||Founding Member||1960 Season|
|(now the San Diego Chargers)|
|Anaheim||Candidate for Expansion||1963-1969 Expansion Era|
|Los Angeles||Candidate for Expansion||1963-1969 Expansion Era|
|San Francisco, CA Metro Area|
|Oakland Raiders||Founding Member||1960 Season|
|San Francisco||Proposed Founding Member||1960 Season|
|San Francisco||Candidate for Expansion||1963-1969 Expansion Era|
|Denver Broncos||Founding Member||1960 Season|
|District of Columbia|
|Washington||Candidate for Expansion||1960-1962 Expansion Era|
|Washington||Candidate for Expansion||1963-1969 Expansion Era|
|Jacksonville||Candidate for Expansion||1960-1962 Expansion Era|
|Miami||Proposed Founding Member||1960 Season|
|Miami Dolphins||Joined the AFL||1966 Season|
|Atlanta||Proposed Founding Member||1960 Season|
|Atlanta||Aborted Plans to Join the AFL||1961 Expansion|
|Atlanta||Aborted Plans to Join the AFL||1966 Expansion|
|Honolulu||Candidate for Expansion||1963-1969 Expansion Era|
|Chicago||Aborted Plans to Join the AFL||1961 Expansion|
|Chicago||Candidate for Expansion||1963-1969 Expansion Era|
|Louisville||Candidate for Expansion||1963-1969 Expansion Era|
|New Orleans, LA|
|New Orleans||Proposed Founding Member||1960 Season|
|New Orleans||Candidate for Expansion||1960-1962 Expansion Era|
|New Orleans||Candidate for Expansion||1963-1969 Expansion Era|
|Baltimore||Candidate for Expansion||1963-1969 Expansion Era|
|Boston Patriots||Founding Member||1960 Season|
|(now the New England Patriots)|
|Detroit||Candidate for Expansion||1963-1969 Expansion Era|
|Minneapolis||Aborted Plans to Join the AFL||1960 Season|
|Kansas City, MO|
|Kansas City||Proposed Founding Member||1960 Season|
|Kansas City||Candidate for Expansion||1960-1962 Expansion Era|
|Buffalo Bills||Founding Member||1960 Season|
|New York, NY|
|New York Titans||Founding Member||1960 Season|
|(now the New York Jets)|
|Cincinnati||Candidate for Expansion||1960-1962 Expansion Era|
|Cincinnati Bengals||Joined the AFL||1968 Season|
|Cleveland||Candidate for Expansion||1963-1969 Expansion Era|
|Columbus||Candidate for Expansion||1963-1969 Expansion Era|
|Portland||Candidate for Expansion||1963-1969 Expansion Era|
|Philadelphia||Candidate for Expansion||1960-1962 Expansion Era|
|Philadelphia||Candidate for Expansion||1963-1969 Expansion Era|
|Memphis||Candidate for Expansion||1960-1962 Expansion Era|
|Dallas Texans||Founding Member||1960 Season|
|(now the Kansas City Chiefs)|
|Houston Oilers||Founding Member||1960 Season|
|(now the Tennessee Titans)|
|Seattle||Proposed Founding Member||1960 Season|
|Seattle||Candidate for Expansion||1960-1962 Expansion Era|
|Seattle||Candidate for Expansion||1963-1969 Expansion Era|
|Milwaukee||Candidate for Expansion||1963-1969 Expansion Era|
|Toronto||Candidate for Expansion||1960-1962 Expansion Era|
|Toronto||Candidate for Expansion||1963-1969 Expansion Era|
|Montreal||Candidate for Expansion||1960-1962 Expansion Era|
|Montreal||Candidate for Expansion||1963-1969 Expansion Era|