NYC Sports 101

Jonathan Zeller


New York is the world’s best sports city by a mile. We have professional teams in every game you could want to see, along with some of the most famous arenas and stadiums. Want to get in on the action, but don’t know the first thing about our teams? No worries—we’ve got the cheat sheet to get you started and make you sound like an expert (or at least enough to get by).

Citifield Dusk Citifield Photo: Jen Davis


Major-league teams:

New York Mets
Where they play: Citi Field, Queens
When they play: The Mets' Major League Baseball regular season runs from April through early October
What’s their deal? New York’s National League team, founded in 1962, is traditionally considered an underdog, especially compared to the Yankees (see below). The Mets were World Series champs in 1969 and 1986, and National League champions in 1973, 2000 and 2015.
Why go? Cozy ballpark, food at Shake Shack, knowledgeable fans and a gigantic mechanical apple that rises when the Mets hit a home run
Random historical great: Tom Seaver, Hall of Fame pitcher
Random current star: Matt Harvey, young pitcher who gets lots of media attention
Multimedia fun: Remember that apple we talked about?

New York Yankees
Where they play: Yankee Stadium, the Bronx
When they play: The Yankees' Major League Baseball regular season runs from April through early October
What’s their deal? The 27-time World Series champions have been made famous by Hall of Famers like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Reggie Jackson, Derek Jeter and many others. They play in a new Yankee Stadium that looks a lot like the old one.
Why go? To see Monument Park (where they keep plaques for those great players) and the team museum in person, and to hear the Bleacher Creatures vocally support their heroes.
Random historical great: See above; take your pick.
Random current star: Alex Rodriguez. Love him or hate him, he’s one of the game’s all-time great hitters.
Multimedia fun: Here are the Yankees winning the World Series in 2009, their first year at the new stadium.

New York Liberty action New York Liberty Photo: Julienne Schaer


New York Knicks
Where they play: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan
When they play: The Knicks' National Basketball Association regular season schedule runs from October through April.
What’s their deal? An original NBA team and obsession for generations of fans, they are kings of the New York Post back page.
Why go? Even after its renovation, Madison Square Garden gets loud when a game is close or the Knicks are doing well. You also might see some celebrities: Spike Lee is courtside almost every game, and tons of other famous people show up from time to time.
Random historical great: Patrick Ewing, Hall of Fame center
Random current star: Carmelo Anthony, All-Star forward
Multimedia fun: Look at Kristaps Porzingis blocking shots all over the place.

Brooklyn Nets
Where they play: Barclays Center, Brooklyn
When they play: The Nets' National Basketball Association regular season schedule runs from October through April.
What’s their deal? The team moved from Long Island to New Jersey and finally to Brooklyn, where they became the borough’s first big-league team since the 1950s. Jay Z designed their logo. Their gear is a common sight on Brooklyn streets. Their owner is a Russian billionaire. It’s all very 21st century.
Why go? To see the spaceship-like arena and its distinctive herringbone floor, to eat from the Brooklyn-based concessionaires and, much of the time, for the most affordable NBA ticket in the City.
Random historical great: Julius “Dr. J” Erving, who elevated the slam dunk to an art form
Random current star: Thaddeus Young, the first of the Nets to adopt the borough as his home
Multimedia fun: Here’s a recent season’s worth of highlights from the team.

New York Liberty
Where they play: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan
When they play: The Liberty's Women's National Basketball Association regular season runs from May through September. 
What’s their deal? New York City’s WNBA franchise has been a member since the league’s inception in 1996. The team is especially popular with families, and a good choice for those who need their basketball fix during the summer.
Why go? Good seats are cheap by pro-basketball standards, and these are the best female players in the world.
Random historical great: Becky Hammon, a six-time all-star who went on to become the first female full-time assistant coach in the history of the NBA
Random current star: Tina Charles, a former WNBA MVP born and raised in New York City
Multimedia fun: Speaking of Tina Charles, here she is scoring 32 points in a Liberty win:

New York Islanders rink New York Islanders Photo: Julienne Schaer


New York Rangers
Where they play: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan
When they play: The Rangers' National Hockey League regular season runs from October through April.
What’s their deal? One of the NHL’s original six franchises, the “Broadway Blueshirts” is the favorite team of a very loud, devoted fan base.
Why go? Because you’re unlikely to experience many atmospheres rowdier than a Rangers game at Madison Square Garden. Though the arena has gone upscale after recent renovations, the diehards still shout their lungs out—doubly so when the hated Islanders (see below) visit the borough.
Random historical great: Mark Messier, who will never again have to buy a drink in New York City after helping to end the team’s 54-year Stanley Cup drought in 1994
Random current star: Henrik Lundqvist, the most glamorous man in hockey (and a heck of a goalie)
Multimedia fun: Hey, here they are winning the 1994 Stanley Cup:

New York Islanders
Where they play: Barclays Center, Brooklyn
When they play: The Islanders' National Hockey League regular season runs from October through April.​
What’s their deal? Formerly of political Long Island (hence the name), still technically on geographical Long Island (hence keeping the name), the team won four consecutive Stanley Cups in the 1980s.
Why go? For their fans—yes, we said the same about the Rangers, but hockey fans in general are a hearty lot—the new arena and the talented young team that may be poised for greatness
Random historical great: Goalie Billy Smith, who played with the team from 1972 through 1989, including every one of their championships
Random current star: All-Star forward John Tavares, one of the league’s top goal scorers
Multimedia fun: Tavares is good at hockey.


New York Football Giants ball New York Football Giants Photo: Evan Pinkus

American Football

New York Giants
Where they play: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
When they play: The Giants' National Football League regular season runs from September through December.
What’s their deal? Eight-time champions of the NFL (four times in the Super Bowl era), Big Blue is one of the league’s longest-established teams.
Why go? An American football game, in general, is one of the more involved sports rituals anywhere. It starts early with tailgating—eating, drinking and hanging out in the parking lot—and continues through the game. If you’re coming from overseas, well, this is definitely an American experience.
Random historical great: Frank Gifford, MVP running back turned popular broadcaster
Random current star: Eli Manning, quarterback and two-time Super Bowl MVP
Multimedia fun: This is the greatest catch:

New York Jets
Where they play: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
When they play: The Jets' National Football League season runs from September through December.
What’s their deal? Back when they were in the upstart American Football League, Gang Green pulled off one of the biggest upsets in sports history (Super Bowl III).
Why go? Again, NFL football is one of the great American sports traditions. Plus, you might see a guy in a firefighter helmet yelling “J-E-T-S, Jets! Jets! Jets!”
Random historical great: Joe Namath—“Broadway Joe”—the flamboyant quarterback who put the team on the map
Random current star: Cornerback Darrelle Revis has a reputation as one of the league’s top defensive players
Multimedia fun: Here’s Revis showing his stuff.

Red Bulls action Red Bulls Photo: Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports


New York Red Bulls
Where they play: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, NJ
When they play: The Red Bulls' Major League Soccer regular season runs from March through October.
What’s their deal? The New York City area’s first Major League Soccer team, formerly known as the MetroStars, was founded in 1996.
Why go? The Red Bulls may be a young team, but their fans are vocal. The supporters’ section behind one goal is rowdy, and the metal stands in Red Bull Arena echo with stomping feet when the game gets tense. Speaking of Red Bull Arena, it’s ranked by those in the know as one of the best soccer-specific stadiums in the United States.
Random historical great: French legend Thierry Henry
Random current star: Bradley Wright-Phillips, who holds the MLS record for most goals scored in a single season
Multimedia fun: Here, the Red Bulls score the fastest goal in MLS history:

New York City FC
Where they play: Yankee Stadium, the Bronx
When they play: New York City FC's Major League Soccer regular season runs from March through October.
What’s their deal? Founded in 2015, they’re the new Major League Soccer team in town.
Why go? For one, the novelty of seeing professional soccer at Yankee Stadium. For another, the passion of the fans in the Third Rail. For a third, they’ve loaded their roster with big names.
Random historical great: This team is too new to have a historical great, but…
Random current star: …we’ll make up for it with two current stars, Spain’s David Villa and England’s Frank Lampard.
Multimedia fun: David Villa scored 18 goals in his first season with NYCFC. Here are all of them:

US Open court US Open Photo: Laura Miller

Big Events

US Open Tennis
More than 700,000 people attend the US Open annually, and tens of millions watch on TV, both to see great tennis and to be part of a sport that has produced icons—like the Williams sisters, Andy Roddick and Maria Sharapova. Make sure to get your tickets early if you want good seats for prime matches. The event takes place from late August into September. For details, check out our complete guide.

New York City Marathon runners New York City Marathon runners. Photo: Julienne Schaer

TCS NYC Marathon
This race, held in early November, is the participatory sporting event to end all participatory sporting events—during which around 50,000 competitors endure a punishing 26.2-mile journey through all five boroughs. Amateurs run alongside professional stars as millions of fans cheer them every step of the way. Marathoners compete not only on two legs but also on prostheses and wheels. For details, check out our viewers’ guide (and, to register for the race, visit

Minor-league, college and other teams:
College Basketball
Since the beginning of college basketball’s time as a major spectator sport, New York City has regularly hosted the best teams. The National Invitation Tournament and many other post- and regular-season tournaments take place here every year, Division I teams make their homes in every borough and the NCAA Tournament has been known to drop by Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center. For up-to-date schedules, check those arenas’ websites and our Sports Calendar.

Brooklyn Cyclones pitcher throwing a pitch. Brooklyn Cyclones. Photo: Alexander Thompson

Brooklyn Cyclones and Staten Island Yankees (minor-league baseball)
The Mets and Yankees are New York’s best-known pro baseball teams, but two others play within the city limits: the Brooklyn Cyclones (affiliated with the Mets) and the Staten Island Yankees (take a guess), short-season Single-A minor-league clubs. They both play in small, charming ballparks where tickets are cheap and you can see future stars up close (and many former Cyclones and SI Yanks have gone on to big-league prominence, so there’s a good chance you’ll leave with a story to tell in years to come).


New York Cosmos (NASL Soccer)
The Cosmos make their home in Hempstead, New York, and play in the North American Soccer League. That’s the second tier of American pro soccer, but the team is nothing to scoff at: they’ve frequently signed international stars and have scored wins against both the Red Bulls and New York City FC in cup play.

For much more on NYC sports—including events, player interviews and detailed guides—visit


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