Colorado is a state that has recently gained renewed interest in hockey with the appearance of the Colorado Avalanche, an NHL team. However, there are other lesser-known teams hailing from this state and competing within various leagues. If you’re a local or visiting fan looking to support your favorite team, it’s useful to know which league they play in. So, what league(s) do Colorado hockey teams compete in?
The first and most well-known league is none other than the National Hockey League (NHL). The Colorado Avalanche joined the NHL as part of the 1995 expansion and have been playing at Pepsi Center since 1999 after previously being based at Denver Coliseum. They’ve won two Stanley Cups over their short history and boast some exceptional players such as Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg who helped put them on the map.
“You can’t be afraid to lose and become complacent. ” – Joe Sakic
In addition to the NHL team, Colorado also field several minor-league franchises under three different tiers: American Hockey League (AHL), ECHL, Central Hockey League (CHL). AHL affiliates provide second-string players for NHL rosters but often serve up professional-standard games worth watching. Meanwhile, both division II-level CHL clubs perform more locally-aligned matches against nearby oppositions while offering appealing ticket prices for fans just discovering hockey or looking for family-friendly entertainment.
Whether following established favorites like the Avs or one of its growing number of lower-tier alternatives across multiple leagues representative of each tier’s style – anyone interested should start by developing knowledge about where these hometown heroes compete every winter season!
Colorado Avalanche Competes in the National Hockey League (NHL)
The Colorado Avalanche is a professional ice hockey team that plays in the National Hockey League, commonly known as NHL. The league consists of 31 teams from Canada and the United States.
The team was founded in 1972 as Quebec Nordiques and played in the World Hockey Association (WHA). After joining the NHL in 1979, the team moved to Denver, Colorado, and rebranded itself as the Colorado Avalanche before the start of the 1995-96 season.
The Avalanche competes in the Western Conference’s Central Division alongside other teams like the Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, Minnesota Wild, Winnipeg Jets, and Chicago Blackhawks.
“We feel good about where we’re at, ” said Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson. “We know what it takes to make it [to playoffs]. We’ve got a really good group here. “
Since their inaugural year in Colorado, they have won two Stanley Cups (in 1996 and 2001) along with eight division titles. They have also made playoff appearances consistently over their long history. Notable players who have donned Avs’ jerseys include Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Patrick Roy among others.
Overall, Colorado Avalanche has been one of the most successful franchises since its inception into NHL over four decades ago.
What is the NHL?
The National Hockey League (NHL) is North America’s premier professional ice hockey league. It consists of 31 teams, with 24 located in the United States and seven in Canada.
The NHL was founded on November 26, 1917, and initially had just four Canadian teams: Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Arenas, Ottawa Senators, and Quebec Bulldogs. Over time, more American teams joined the league, making it a truly international organization.
Hockey fans across the globe tune in to watch their favorite teams compete for the Stanley Cup Championship—the most coveted trophy in professional hockey. The playoffs are a grueling battle that lasts two months and brings together the best players from each team.
“The game of hockey has been an integral part of our culture since long ago. Through its evolution, we have witnessed some great rivalries that will last forever. “
Ice hockey has grown significantly over the years as a sport played all around the world. And in Colorado State alone two of these teams participate:
Firstly, there is the Colorado Avalanche, which began playing in Denver during October of 1995 after transferring from Quebec City where they were known as “Les Nordiques. ” They won two Stanley Cups during this era under Joe Sakic’s captaincy; he later became Executive Vice President General Manager of the club in addition to his role Managing Director of Team Canada Men’s Ice Hockey.
In addition to them, there is also University Of Colorado Buffaloes(Men) who play college level NCAA games against other universities mainly based out of Colorado but sometimes outside too.
History of the Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche is a professional ice hockey team based in Denver, Colorado that plays in the National Hockey League (NHL).
The franchise was founded as the Quebec Nordiques and joined the NHL as part of the WHA-NHL merger in 1979. However, due to financial struggles, the team moved to Denver in 1995 and became known as the Colorado Avalanche.
Their first season in Denver was nothing less than spectacular as they won their first Stanley Cup championship. They went on to make it into playoffs for several years following this win until 2006 when they missed it for the first time ever after over ten consecutive appearances.
“We will always remember our great fans who supported us through thick and thin – Vinny Lecavalier”
The Avalanche made an impressive comeback by winning another Stanley Cup in 2001 and continued to be competitive throughout much of the early-mid 2000s with key players such as Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg leading them forward. By securing top-notch young talent such as Nathan MacKinnon later down the line, it’s clear that there are more successes up ahead for this amazing organization.
In conclusion, The Colorado Avalanche has been one of the most successful franchises in NHL history despite facing difficulties during its inception years due to relocation from Quebec. With its die-hard fanbase, incredible leadership, and talented stars both past and present; there’s no surprise many people count themselves lucky enough to watch this legendary team play today!
Colorado Eagles Compete in the American Hockey League (AHL)
For those wondering “What league do Colorado hockey teams play in?”, the answer is quite simple. The Colorado Eagles compete in the American Hockey League (AHL). As a professional ice hockey team, they are based out of Loveland, Colorado and play at the Budweiser Events Center.
The team began its journey back in 2003 when it was part of the Central Hockey League (CHL), where it won two Ray Miron President’s Cups in 2005 and 2007. However, after several successful seasons, they eventually joined the AHL for the 2018-19 season as an affiliate of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche.
This new move has proven to be beneficial for both teams since players can now easily be called up or sent down between levels without having to travel across large distances. Additionally, fans get to see some future stars honing their skills before playing on a bigger stage with the Avalanche.
“We’re thrilled about our partnership with this outstanding organization, ” said Jack Graham, former president of Eagles. “The vast resources that come from being affiliated with one of the top franchises in all of sports will give us an incredible advantage moving forward. “
In conclusion, if you want to catch high-level action on ice rinks around Denver or other cities throughout North America alongside passionate supporters then head over to watch your favorite team compete in this exciting sport. Whether you prefer local games featuring just one opponent or traveling cross-country matches against talented rivals, experiencing live contests like these should not be missed!
What is the AHL?
The American Hockey League (AHL) is a professional ice hockey league in North America. It is considered to be one of the top developmental leagues for players aspiring to play in the National Hockey League (NHL). The AHL currently has 31 teams spread out across the United States and Canada.
The Colorado Eagles are a team that plays in the AHL. They are based in Loveland, Colorado, and joined the league as an expansion franchise in 2018. Prior to joining the AHL, they played in the ECHL for fifteen seasons.
In addition to developing players on the ice, the AHL also serves as a training ground for coaches, referees, and other officials involved with hockey operations. Many current NHL coaches and executives began their careers in the minor leagues like the AHL.
“The quality of play in the AHL is very high, ” said former NHL player Joe Sakic. “Players work hard every game because they know there’s always a chance someone from an NHL organization will be watching. “
Overall, having Colorado-based teams playing in established leagues such as the MLB or NFL brings immense pride to locals not just because of proximity but talent-wise as well given how significant these competitions have been regarded over time.
Colorado Eagles Team History
The Colorado Eagles are a minor league professional ice hockey team based in Loveland, Colorado. They were founded in 2003 and initially joined the Central Hockey League (CHL) as an expansion franchise.
In their first season, the Eagles set multiple records for attendance and won the CHL championship. The following year, they repeated as champions and established themselves as one of the premier teams in the league.
After six years in the CHL, the Eagles became members of the ECHL in 2011. In their debut ECHL campaign, they reached the second round of playoffs before being eliminated by Alaska Aces.
“The ECHL is delighted to welcome new ownership to such a strong market, ” said CEO Brian McKenna during an interview when talking about Colorado Eagles joining ECHL.
In 2017-18, after becoming affiliates with NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and AHL’s San Antonio Rampage respectively, the team had its most successful season yet. Having finished second place with 95 points earned by winning forty-seven games out of seventy-two played; they advanced past five rounds of playoffs elimination without any defeat to win their first-ever Kelly Cup Championship title defeating South Carolina Stingrays in Game-7 at home. It was a momentous occasion not just for them but also for Northern Colorado sports fans who relished it because this was something special we all cherish from time-to-time.
To summarize everything succinctly; The Colorado Eagles play in the ECHL which stands for East Coast Hockey League – now commonly referred to exclusively by its acronym since changing names several times since inception back in 1988.
Denver Pioneers Compete in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC)
The University of Denver, located in Colorado, is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I. They are represented by their ice hockey team called “The Denver Pioneers”. The Pioneers have been consistently successful over the years and have won eight national championships.
Their success has also led them to be eligible members for various athletic conferences, one such association being the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC). This conference was initiated in 2011 with seven teams including two from Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State and Western Michigan, Nebraska Omaha along Miami Ohio and Colorado Collage but now it consistes of eight teams which Idaho’s Saint Martin’s H. L. C. ).
This collegiate league represents some of the top NCAA men’s Ice hockey teams in America. Alongside Denver Pioneers the NCHC comprises other renowned schools/colleges like Colorado College Tigers, North Dakota Fighting Hawks; Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs; Omaha Mavericks;St. Cloud State Huskies;Western Michigan Broncos, Miami-Ohio RedHawks competing at this highly competitive level.
“Playing against these remarkable institutions brings experience to players that will stay with them forever, ” says head coach David Carle of University of Denver while highlighting how his student athletes thrive in playing/sporting events within this playoff bound conference.
In conclusion, if you’re looking to follow Colorado-based college teams like DU or CC as they battle significant rivals across its swanky stadiums – then the NCHC is indeed an ultimate destination!
What is the NCHC?
The National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) is an NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey conference, consisting of eight member schools: Colorado College, University of Denver, Miami University, University of Minnesota Duluth, University of Nebraska Omaha, St. Cloud State University, Western Michigan University and North Dakota State University.
Founded in 2011, the league is based in Colorado Springs and plays a twenty-four game schedule. The winner of the NCHC postseason tournament receives an automatic bid to the following year’s NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament.
The NCHC is widely considered one of the strongest college hockey leagues in America with several teams that frequently rank among national leaders each season. It also has many top-rated prospects for NHL drafts which shows how competitive this league can be.
“Being a part of such a strong conference like the NCHC forces us as players and coaches to bring our ‘A’ games every night” said Coach Scott Sandelin of University of Minnesota Duluth when asked about his experience being associated with this league. “There are no off nights and it makes you better individually and collectively. “The NCHC offers exciting match-ups between some really talented collegiate programs making it quite popular not only amongst avid hockey fans but casual sports enthusiasts too. Colorado-based professional hockey team – Colorado Avalanche plays in Central Division within the Western Conference under The National Hockey League (NHL). However its minor league affiliate Colorado Eagles does play at Budweiser Events Center located approximately 48 miles north from downtown Denver.
History of the Denver Pioneers Hockey Team
The Denver Pioneers hockey team is a beloved institution for Colorado sports fans. The program has been around since 1949, and it’s known as one of the most successful college hockey teams in history.
Over the years, the Pioneers have won eight NCAA championships. They’ve also produced countless NHL stars, including Matt Carle, Tyler Bozak, and Paul Stastny.
The Pioneers play their home games at Magness Arena on the University of Denver campus. The arena seats just over 6, 000 spectators and provides an intimate setting for exciting hockey action.
“Denver Pioneer Hockey” is not just a sport to us- it’s a way of life! – George Gwozdecky
The Pioneers are currently members of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC), which was formed in 2011. This conference includes seven schools throughout North America.
In addition to playing in the NCHC, some college players from Denver go on to play professionally in either the American Hockey League (AHL) or the National Hockey League (NHL).Overall, Denver’s success on the ice speaks for itself. The city has long been a hub for passionate hockey fans and talented players alike. And while there may be other great teams out there, few can match the legacy and impact of this iconic franchise!
Colorado Thunderbirds Compete in the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League (T1EHL)
Are you a fan of ice hockey? Do you know what league Colorado hockey teams play in? The answer is simple: they compete in the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League – T1EHL for short.
T1EHL is one of the best youth ice hockey leagues in North America. It’s an elite level league, and only the top players are selected to participate. The league was established with the objective of providing young athletes with opportunities to develop their skills while also getting exposure at higher levels.
For the Colorado Thunderbirds, this means that they get to compete against some of the best youth players across America. The competition is fierce, and every match presents its own unique challenges for the Colorado Thunderbirds team members.
“The experience our players have competing against such high-level opponents provides them with invaluable knowledge when it comes to facing similar scenarios later on in life, ” said John Mckay, Head Coach of Colorado Thunderbirds
The Colorado Thunderbirds consist of boys’ and girls’ teams ranging from U12 through U18 age groups, who all participate annually within home state as well as nationally recognized tournaments for eligibility towards USA Hockey National Championship qualifying slots.Overall, being part of T1EHL allows these young athletes to improve their skating stride, shooting accuracy and touch passes. In addition to honing their physical abilities, playing among peers can foster pathways to university scholarship programs or even be drafted into professional hockey leagues like NHL.
What is the T1EHL?
The T1EHL or Tier 1 Elite Hockey League is a youth hockey league operating in the United States. It was founded in 2008, and its teams compete at various age levels from Midget to Bantam.
Teams in the T1EHL are considered top-level competitive programs and attract some of the most skilled young players from around the country. The league has a reputation for producing talented players who often go on to play college hockey or even make it to the professional ranks.
Colorado has several teams that participate in the T1EHL, including Colorado Springs Tigers, Arapahoe Warriors, Rocky Mountain Roughriders, and Colorado Evolution. These teams provide high-level competition for young aspiring athletes and help promote ice hockey throughout the state.
“The T1EHL provides an excellent development platform for elite-level players, ” said John Lounsbury, President of USA Hockey’s Pacific District. “Many of these players will go on to represent their countries internationally as well as excel at higher levels. “
In addition to league play, many teams also participate in tournaments across North America where they can showcase their skills against other top-tier programs. By participating in such events, players get exposure to scouts from colleges and junior leagues looking for talent.
If you’re a young player looking to develop your game at an elite level or simply a fan interested watching high-caliber youth hockey action, catching a game featuring one of Colorado’s T1EHL teams is definitely worth checking out!
Colorado Thunderbirds Team History
The Colorado Thunderbirds are a tier 1 junior ice hockey team based in the state of Colorado. They currently play in the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL) and their home games take place at Edge Ice Arena in Littleton, CO.
The team was established in 2002 as part of the Rocky Mountain District Development Program which aimed to develop young players for higher levels of competition. Over the years, the program grew and expanded into multiple teams catering to different age groups and skill levels. In 2010, they were renamed the Colorado Thunderbirds after merging with another local organization.
Since its inception, many talented players have passed through the ranks of this elite AAA development program and have gone on to impressive careers playing college, professional or national level hockey. The club’s alumni list includes several NHL draft picks such as J. T Compher, Brendan Lemieux, and Seth Jones.
“The USPHL is an ideal league for our young athletes who aspire to pursue college or university opportunities while still having access to top-notch coaching. ” – Angelo Ricci, founder/coach of the Colorado Thunderbirds
The USPHL is a league that offers significant exposure and competitive opportunities for players seeking advancement while also prioritizing player safety. It has quickly become one of North America’s largest amateur hockey leagues with over 550 member organizations across six different divisions nationwide. Within the USPHL hierarchy, there are Junior A-level programs like those offered by the Thunderbirds where players can receive scholarships from NCAA schools or potentially even go pro if they continue to develop further.
University of Colorado Buffaloes Compete in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA)
Colorado is a state that has plenty of hockey teams ranging from professional to college. One such college team is the University of Colorado Boulder’s ice hockey team, commonly known as the Buffaloes.
The Buffaloes compete in Division II under the Western Conference South division of the ACHA. This conference includes other colleges like Arizona State University, Grand Canyon University, Northern Arizona University, and Cal Lutheran University.
“The ACHA offers numerous opportunities for collegiate athletes who wish to continue playing at a competitive level”
This association provides a platform for both men’s and women’s sports programs across various skill levels. They aim to promote growth within university-level athletics while also upholding academic excellence among student-athletes. Being part of this league means participating in a nationally recognized championship tournament with over 450 other universities and 12, 000+ active members.
Despite being part of an athletic program that encompasses five NCAA varsity sports programs – football, basketball, skiing, cross country/track & field – The University of Colorado still holds its spot within the ACHA as one way they support their drive for well-rounded academics and athleticism.Overall, joining the American Collegiate Hockey Association allows teams like Colorado’s very own Buffaloes to compete against top talent nationwide while striving for personal success on and off the ice simultaneously.
What is the ACHA?
The American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) is a non-profit organization that governs varsity and club level college ice hockey programs in the United States. The ACHA was established in 1991, and it has grown to more than 500 teams across three divisions: Division I, Division II, and Division III.
The ACHA provides national structure for collegiate ice hockey with its regional conferences around the country. Teams are organized by geographic region into four Conferences: Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League (ESCHL), Western Collegiate Club Hockey Association (WCCHA), Central States Collegiate Hockey Conference (CSCHC), and Southern Collegiate Hockey Association (SCHA).
In terms of Colorado college teams, both the University of Colorado Boulder Buffaloes and Colorado State Rams have men’s club hockey teams that compete in the American Collegiate Hockey Association. These teams often play against other universities throughout the year as well as playing official league games within their conference.
“The growth of ACHA proves how deeply engrained collegiate sports culture is as part of American society, ” said Ryan Sweeney, head coach at Grand Canyon University Men’s Ice Hockey.
The organization focuses on promoting development opportunities for student-athletes through education while they compete at an elite level. Additionally, the association establishes guidelines from which schools can build quality programs that benefit not only intercollegiate competition but also school objectives pertaining to student life and academics.
History of the University of Colorado Hockey Team
The University of Colorado hockey team has a rich history, dating back to its founding in 1901. Originally known as the Silver and Gold, the team played in various leagues over the years including the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Hockey League and eventually joined the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division II.
After several successful seasons, in 2017, the Buffaloes made a historic jump from ACHA Division II to ACHA Division I. The following year they achieved their first-ever national ranking at #23 overall. With a current record of 14-4-2 for this past season, there is no doubt that CU Boulder’s ice hockey program knows how to produce quality players on all levels.
The team also boasts some notable alumni such as former NHL player Jose Theodore and Olympic gold medalist Ted Drury who are more than happy to share what it means to have Buff pride beyond just college-level play!
“As an alumnae of the University of Colorado, ” says former women’s ice hockey forward Emma Wuthrich ’17 “I’m so proud to watch our men’s ice hockey team make strides both within their league and nationally – BRING HOME THAT NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!”
All-in-all, whether you are attending one of games or watching online from far away, seeing these student athletes stand out not only within state-wide rivalries but across national borders is nothing short of fantastic – making waves quite literally wherever they go!
Colorado Outlaws Compete in the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL)
The Colorado Outlaws are an American professional lacrosse team based in Denver, Colorado. The team competes in the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL), a top-level field lacrosse league that was founded in 2018.
In their debut season, the PLL featured six teams, including the Atlas LC, Chaos LC, Chrome LC, Redwoods LC, Whipsnakes LC and Archers LC. In 2021 they expanded to eight teams after adding Cannons LC and Waterdogs LC.
The Colorado Outlaws were one of the original members of Major League Lacrosse (MLL) when it began play back in 2006. They later joined with other national professional outdoor leagues under US Lacrosse sanctioning into what is now known as Premiere Lacrosse League or PLL since merging with NCAA Men’s Division I program Chris Hogan Gold Coast Athletics & Wellness.
“Playing alongside world-class athletes who share their passion for lacrosse has been a dream come true for many members of our club. ” – Tony Seaman (Head Coach)
The main goal of this league is to introduce exciting new rules and gameplay that enhance entertainment value as well as attract more fans to watch live matches or on TV broadcasts. The seasons take place during the summer months from May-July each year.
With talented players such as Matt Kavanagh and Zach Currier on the roster, there is no doubt that the Colorado Outlaws will continue to be a strong presence in the competitive landscape of major lacrosse leagues across North America.
What League Do Colorado Hockey Teams Play In?
If you are a fan of hockey in the state of Colorado, then you may be wondering what league their teams play in. There are two major professional ice hockey leagues in North America – the National Hockey League (NHL) and the American Hockey League (AHL).
The three professional teams that represent Colorado in ice hockey all belong to the highest level hockey league on this continent i. e. , NHL.
“As of today, there are no AHL teams or franchises based out of any city within Colorado. ”
The biggest team here is undoubtedly the Colorado Avalanche who have been one of the most prominent teams since they joined NHL back in 1995. The other two cities represented by these professional franchises include Denver who house both Avalanche as well as a newly founded expansion team called Seattle Kraken while Eagles from Loveland particularly competes for top honors at minor-pro levels under its affiliate status with Toronto Marlies.
To sum it up, if you’re looking to watch some thrilling live sporting action in person featuring your favorite stars like Nathan Mackinnon, Cale Makar etc. , head over to any of these stadiums viz Ball Arena or Budweiser Events Center where you can catch them regularly battling against star-studded rivals whether inter-divisional games versus Winnipeg Jets or home-turf clashes vs Arizona Coyotes!
History of the Colorado Outlaws Lacrosse Team
The Colorado Outlaws lacrosse team was founded in 2006 and joined Major League Lacrosse (MLL) as an expansion team. The MLL is a professional outdoor lacrosse league that currently consists of six teams, including the Denver Outlaws.
The Outlaws quickly established themselves as one of the most successful franchises in the league, winning their first MLL championship in just their second season. Led by star players like Brendan Mundorf and Drew Snider, the team would go on to win two more championships over the next decade.
In addition to their success on the field, the Outlaws have also been known for their strong community involvement. The team has hosted several charity events over the years, including a “Pink Night” game to raise money for breast cancer research and awareness.
“The dedication that we show towards our fans goes above and beyond what’s required, ” said co-founder Jim Bernhardt. “We do everything possible to make people feel welcome and special. “
Despite facing some challenges in recent seasons, including ownership changes and player departures, the Outlaws remain a beloved fixture of both the Colorado sports scene and the broader MLL landscape. Fans continue to flock to Sports Authority Field at Mile High each summer to cheer on their favorite blue-and-orange-clad warriors.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the major professional ice hockey league that Colorado hockey teams play in?
The major professional ice hockey league that Colorado hockey teams play in is the National Hockey League (NHL). The NHL is made up of 31 teams from both the United States and Canada and is considered the premier professional ice hockey league in the world. The Colorado Avalanche is the state’s NHL team and is based in Denver, Colorado.
Are there any minor or amateur ice hockey leagues that Colorado hockey teams participate in?
Yes, there are several minor or amateur ice hockey leagues that Colorado hockey teams participate in. These leagues include the American Hockey League (AHL), the ECHL, and the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA). The Colorado Eagles, based in Loveland, Colorado, is the state’s AHL team. There are also several amateur and youth ice hockey leagues throughout Colorado that provide opportunities for players of all ages and skill levels to participate in the sport.
How many teams from Colorado are currently playing in the professional ice hockey league?
There is currently one team from Colorado playing in the professional ice hockey league, the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche have been a member of the NHL since 1995 and have won two Stanley Cup championships (in 1996 and 2001). The team has a strong following in Colorado and regularly competes against other top NHL teams from around North America.
What are the names of the Colorado hockey teams that play in the professional ice hockey league?
The name of the Colorado hockey team that plays in the professional ice hockey league is the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche were previously known as the Quebec Nordiques and moved to Colorado in 1995. The team plays its home games at the Pepsi Center in Denver and has a passionate fan base throughout the state.
Have any Colorado hockey teams won championships in the professional ice hockey league?
Yes, Colorado hockey teams have won championships in the professional ice hockey league. The Colorado Avalanche have won two Stanley Cup championships (in 1996 and 2001) since joining the NHL in 1995. The team has also reached the Western Conference finals on several occasions and has been a consistent contender for the championship throughout its history. The Avalanche have a strong legacy in Colorado and are considered one of the state’s top professional sports teams.