So you’ve just moved to Cleveland—welcome! You’ve found yourself in one of the best cities on the planet, full of things to do, eat and see. But before you settle in, there are a few things you should know. 1) We prefer brown mustard to yellow. 2) We love craft beer. 3) We are a city full of sports fanatics.
That’s right! Cleveland is definitely a sports city, home to the Browns, the Cavaliers and the Cleveland Indians, so don’t be surprised if you start painting your face and collecting jerseys—it’s expected when you live here.
To help you get acclimated to being a Cleveland sports fan, we rounded up the essential teams in the city. On this list, you’ll find a team for almost every sport from baseball to rugby and roller derby. We hope you’ll get a kick out of it!
Baseball | Basketball | College Teams | Football | Ice Hockey | Roller Derby | Rugby | Soccer | Softball
Baseball is more than just a sport in Cleveland—it’s a religion. And there’s no team you’ll hear about more than the Indians. Since they were established in 1901, they’ve brought home two World Series championships. Attending an Indians game is practically a Cleveland rite of passage, so head out to Progressive Field for a game ASAP.
Cleveland’s Minor League Baseball team is the Lake County Captains. Many Major League Baseball stars have gotten their start as a Lake County Captain, including Victor Martinez, Chris Archer and CC Sabathia. You can catch one of their games at Classic Park in Eastlake.
Established in 1970, the Cleveland Cavaliers, or the Cavs, is one of the most famous professional basketball teams in the country. Even if you aren’t a basketball fan, you’ve probably heard of them once or twice due to LeBron James, who got his start on the team in 2003 and lead the team to victory in 2016. Today, you can watch a game at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse or follow them around the country during their season—which many hardcore Cavs fans do on an annual basis.
Cleveland State University is home to an abundance of fantastic sports teams, from basketball to golf to swimming to wrestling. Plus they offer plenty of women’s teams that you can cheer on any time of the year including basketball, fencing, softball and volleyball.
Just because Case Western is a prestigious, nationally acclaimed, private research university, doesn’t mean they don’t also love competing! The Spartans feature several highly ranked teams, including football, cross country, basketball, baseball, softball, soccer and more.
While the Browns are definitely an underdog in the NFL (with one of the longest playoff droughts in NFL history and one of the only teams to ever complete a season without winning a single game) that doesn’t mean Clevelanders don’t still love the team with a fiery passion. You can catch a game at the FirstEnergy Stadium this season or by visiting one of our favorite sports bars in the city.
Currently on Hiatus
The Cleveland Gladiators is an arena football team that was established in 1997. While they were first based in East Rutherford, New Jersey and then later in Las Vegas, Nevada, they finally found their home in Cleveland in 2008. The team is currently on hiatus while the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse is being renovated, but they hope to play again in 2020.
The Fusion is Cleveland’s full-contact football team founded in 2001. They compete with teams all across North America as a member of the Women’s Football Alliance. While you might think their main goal as a team is to win games, it’s actually to make Cleveland a better place to live. That’s why they give back via volunteerism and partnerships with the Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio and the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland and provide a coaching clinic for girls playing flag football.
Don’t worry, hockey lovers—Cleveland has something to offer you too! The Cleveland Monsters, formally known as the Lake Erie Monsters, are our local professional hockey team. They play their home games at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse downtown and have one Calder Cup championship under their belt, which they nabbed in 2016.
The Burning River Roller Derby is the premier skater-run flat-track roller derby league in Cleveland. There are several different teams that play in this league including the All-Stars, the Pyromaniacs, the Rolling Pin-Ups and many more.
While the Cleveland Guardians are a part of the Cleveland Men’s Roller Derby league, the team is open to all 18+ people that want to skate for fun, fitness and competition. They compete both locally and nationally with teams all around the United States and Canada. Interested in joining? They offer practices for every skill level every other Wednesday in Brunswick.
Photo courtesy of Greg Miranda via the Cleveland Rovers RFC
The Cleveland Rovers Men’s Union Rugby Football Club is made up of men from all walks of life—including students, military veterans, doctors, lawyers, engineers and businessmen. They are a USA Rugby affiliated Men’s Club and currently contend in the Division III Midwest East Conference. You can find them playing their home games at Rugby World or taking a break at PJ McIntyre’s, where they like to relax over a pint after practice on Thursday nights.
While rugby is traditionally a “gentleman’s sport” as many fans like to say, the Iron Maidens have set out to change that stereotype. Founded in 2003, the Iron Maidens are Cleveland’s premier women’s rugby club. In addition to being national rugby finalists, they frequently work with Cleveland Fusion to promote and grow women’s professional sports.
The Cleveland Soccer Club is a semi-professional, men’s soccer team that competes in the National Premier Soccer League. The team roster is currently comprised of both college players and former college players that are looking to continue their competitive careers.
New to the Cleveland athletic scene, the Cleveland Comets recently moved to the area from Akron in 2018. They are a women’s professional fastpitch softball team that has been garnering a lot of attention as of late due to their recent partnership with Team Mexico for the 2019 season, bringing a ton of great talent to the area. You can catch one of their home games at Sprenger Stadium in Avon this season.
Welcome to Cleveland!
If you want more insider guides to the area, click here to find our latest posts. And if you’re still looking for a home in Cleveland, contact us—we would be happy to help!