As of last February, The Athletic had exactly two regional sites: one in Chicago and one in Toronto. Only 12 months later, following a yearlong avalanche of expansion, it is now adding its eighth, ninth, and tenth American sites, to go with a full complement of Canadian offerings and verticals for college football, college basketball, and long-form features.
On Thursday, The Athletic announced new hubs in New York City, Dallas, and Cincinnati, as well at the writers who will populate those sites. Some of the new hires (Marc Carig, Trent Rosecrans) had been previously reported, but most had not.
? LAUNCHING FEB 12: THE ATHLETIC NEW YORK
Smart, in-depth New York sports coverage from an all-star team of writers, including: @MarcCarig, @ArtStape, @Patricia_Traina, @RickCarpiniello, @MikeAScotto, @MikeVorkunov, and more! ? pic.twitter.com/va1VTVv5H2
— The Athletic (@TheAthleticNYC) February 1, 2018
? LAUNCHING FEB 12: THE ATHLETIC DALLAS
Smart, in-depth Dallas-Fort Worth sports coverage from an all-star team of writers, including: @SportsSturm, @NewbergReport, @ThreeTwoEephus, @seanshapiro, @OrMoyal and more! ? pic.twitter.com/ZALTasPoIX
— The Athletic (@TheAthleticDFW) February 1, 2018
? LAUNCHING FEB 12: THE ATHLETIC CINCINNATI
— The Athletic (@TheAthleticCIN) February 1, 2018
In addition to those three cities, The Athletic has full-blown sites in Chicago, Toronto, Cleveland, Minnesota, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and the Bay Area. It also maintains smaller presences in St. Louis, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Vancouver, and Winnipeg.
The Athletic’s expansion to New York is particularly notable given the company’s early conviction to focus on second-tier media markets that aren’t already overwhelmed by sports coverage. The launch of hubs in Philadelphia and the Bay Area had already suggested that The Athletic had moved on from that strategy, but the birth of a New York City site all but confirms it. New York sports teams draw coverage from four or five daily newspapers, plus an army of national outlets. There, The Athletic won’t be mining untapped stories, but will instead be competing with the full gamut of legacy publications.
But at this point, The Athletic is clearly happy to compete with major outlets. In poaching big-name reporters in markets across the country, the site has rapidly moved past its early days as a plucky underdog, becoming the type of well-staffed heavyweight that other reporters envy. There’s still plenty of reason to be nervous about a company with an unproven business model relying heavily on venture-capitalist funds, but from a journalistic perspective The Athletic has proven its mettle.
A year ago, The Athletic seemed likely to grow steadily and expand gradually. Now, it has a presence in most major American cities, and there’s no reason to doubt it will find its way to the rest of them as well.