When it comes to visiting the Big Apple, most travelers will prioritize seeing spots like the Statue of Liberty, Met Museum, and neighborhoods like the Lower East Side. For the most part, tourists will stick to certain areas and sights, while locals will stay in their (fast) lane.
But there’s one place where locals and visitors will find common ground: live sports. As the most populous and dense city in the US, New York City is home to plenty of pro sports teams. There’s football, baseball, hockey, basketball, soccer, rugby, cricket, and more.
In early 2022, the state launched its sports betting market. This has only increased interest in local teams, as New York sports betting groups regularly roll out welcome deals for fans of all stripes. Whether you’re looking to watch a specific team, visit a certain stadium, or just bet on a winner, there’s something for every sports fan—diehards and casual followers alike.
Let’s take a closer look at the biggest venues and teams worth a visit. To note: the NFL will be excluded from this list, as the local New York Giants and New York Jets teams share MetLife Stadium, which is actually located in New Jersey rather than New York itself.
Madison Square Garden isn’t just a sports hub. It’s one of the oldest locations in the city, which broke ground in 1879, and has played host to historical events. These include the ‘Fight of the Century’ between Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier back in 1971, Michael Jordan’s ‘Double Nickel’ game in 1995, and LCD Soundsystem’s last show in 2011—to name a few.
MSG is also home to the New York Rangers NHL team and the New York Knicks NBA team. Depending on the season, travelers can find affordable tickets to see either team. The Rangers are one of the NHL’s top-performing teams, but rumors are swirling they may opt for a new home rink. If catching an NHL game in the City is on your bucket list, it’s better to schedule a trip sooner rather than later.
Lucky for basketball fans, the Knicks seem keen to stay at MSG. As they battle for a comeback after years of poor performance, the stadium will be the ultimate stage for full revival.
A Trip to Brooklyn
New York City is home to multiple NFL, NBA, and MLB teams. This has led to serious cross-town rivalries between the NFL’s Giants and Jets, the NBA’s Knicks and Nets, and the MLB’s Yankees and Mets. Basketball is one of the city’s hottest rivalries, as the former New Jersey Nets recently moved to Brooklyn in 2012.
The Nets compete at Barclay’s Center, a project that was notoriously backed by Jay-Z to help restore Brooklyn’s downtown area. While the stadium continues to be controversial for locals, the Nets are one of the league’s hottest squads. As of 2022, the roster is star-studded, including names like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Ben Simmons.
Those with an inclination for celebrity sightings (on the court and courtside) might want to consider a trip to Barclay’s. It’s a who’s-who for local stars, from Beyonce to Jimmy Fallon.
Bitter Rivals: Baseball Edition
The Nets and Knicks are one of the city’s biggest rivalries today—but the city’s baseball teams have the longest-running feud in sports. The New York Yankees, founded in 1903, call the Bronx home, while the Mets, founded in 1962, are nearby in Queens.
In terms of sports fame, Yankee Stadium is one of the US’s most recognizable homefields and is, in its own right, a tourist destination on par with MSG. It’s also home to NYC Football Club, for MLS soccer fans eager to see the stadium during the MLB off-season.
Though not quite as flashy or historically relevant as Yankee Stadium, the Mets’ Citi Field is state-of-the-art. They also host unique events. Dog day, for example, means fans can bring their pooches to the field and even run them around the bases before the game.