America’s best sports cities, ranked

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As the first wave of the pandemic swept through the United States, so did a wave of cancellations across sports.

On March 11 and 12, 2020, professional sports leagues announced cancellations and postponements, starting with the NBA and continuing with updates from hockey, baseball and myriad other leagues. For the first time in modern history, even the Olympics and Paralympics were postponed.

According to the United Nations, the global sports industry is valued at $756 billion annually. The pandemic cancellations impacted not only the livelihoods of athletes and workers in related industries but communities and fans at large.

Though most sports found ways to return by July 2020, albeit without fans, experts predict that some pandemic-induced changes may be here to stay. In particular, they predict more virtual optionsshorter seasons, inventive camera work and more experimentation with rule changes that liven up baseball and other sports.

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Still, nothing beats the thrill of watching your favorite team, which made us wonder: What’s the best place to live if you’re a sports fan in 2021?

We ranked the 42 metro areas in the U.S. that had at least one team in any of the four major professional sports leagues (National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball) from best to worst for sports fans, using publicly available data from the U.S. Census and ESPN, among other sources.

Image Credit: littleny/ iStock.

Methodology

Our analyses included metro areas that are home to at least one of the major four professional teams (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL). Each metro was ranked based on its teams’ performance, fandom, and stadium. Data were sourced from ESPN and AZ Big Media.

To measure performance of all teams in a metro, we assessed:

  • Average performance across all teams in the metro in the past 3 seasons
  • Championship game appearances since 2000

We only ranked teams that were in their specific city in 2019 and earlier (thus did not include the Las Vegas Raiders, as their first season in Las Vegas was in 2020).

The accessibility of games was measured by the seating availability and cost to attend a  game in each metro:

  • Total seating capacity across all stadiums in the metro
  • Average cost to attend a sporting event at a stadium in each metro area (including one ticket, two beers, one hot dog, and parking)

A team’s ability to draw fans — especially fair-weather or bandwagon fans — relates to its overall performance and ability to make it to postseason games, so we included a measure of fandom in our ranking as well. To measure fandom objectively, we focused on attendance:

  • Average per-game attendance in 2019 per team (summed across all teams in the metro area)
  • Attendance as a percentage of total stadium capacity in the area

Note: We did not consider 2020 attendance, due to widespread adjustments for the pandemic.

Each metric was standardized, then weighted using the following weights:

  • 2.5x: Average win rates across all teams for the past three seasons
  • 2x: Total number of championships won by all teams since the 2000 season
  • 2x: Total attendance per game versus total stadium capacity (2019)
  • 1x: Total seating capacity across all stadiums
  • 1x: Per game attendance averaged across all teams (2019)
  • 1x: Number of professional NFL, NHL, MLB, and/or NBA teams
  • 1x: Total number of championships lost by all teams since the 2000 season
  • -1.5x: Average price for one ticket, two beers, one hot dog, and parking

All standardized and weighted scores were summed, then ranked from highest (best sports city) to lowest (worst sports city).

Image Credit: hutchimagoo.

42. Cincinnati, Ohio

  • Teams: 2
  • Average Win Rate: 0.36
  • Price to Attend: $80
  • Championship Wins: 0
  • Championship Losses: 0
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 107,834
  • Average Attendance: 34,754
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 64%

Image Credit: headlinephotos/ DepositPhotos.

41. Jacksonville, Florida

  • Teams: 1
  • Average Win Rate: 0.25
  • Price to Attend: $127
  • Championship Wins: 0
  • Championship Losses: 0
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 67,264
  • Average Attendance: 63,085
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 94%

Image Credit: icenando / Deposit Photos.

40. Sacramento, California

  • Teams: 1
  • Average Win Rate: 0.45
  • Price to Attend: $139
  • Championship Wins: 0
  • Championship Losses: 0
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 17,583
  • Average Attendance: 17,096
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 97%

Image Credit: ChinaImages/ Deposit Photos.

39. Orlando, Florida

  • Teams: 1
  • Average Win Rate: 0.42
  • Price to Attend: $91
  • Championship Wins: 0
  • Championship Losses: 1
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 18,846
  • Average Attendance: 17,561
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 93%

Image Credit: headlinephotos/ DepositPhotos.

38. Columbus, Ohio

  • Teams: 1
  • Average Win Rate: 0.46
  • Price to Attend: $90
  • Championship Wins: 0
  • Championship Losses: 0
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 18,144
  • Average Attendance: 16,658
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 92%

Image Credit: Dannielle Browne / Flickr.

37. San Diego

  • Teams: 1
  • Average Win Rate: 0.49
  • Price to Attend: $58
  • Championship Wins: 0
  • Championship Losses: 0
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 40,209
  • Average Attendance: 29,585
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 74%

Image Credit: alancrosthwaite / DepositPhotos.

36. Memphis

  • Teams: 1
  • Average Win Rate: 0.47
  • Price to Attend: $75
  • Championship Wins: 0
  • Championship Losses: 0
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 17,794
  • Average Attendance: 15,578
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 88%

Image Credit: ChinaImages/ Deposit Photos.

35. Raleigh, North Carolina

  • Teams: 1
  • Average Win Rate: 0.59
  • Price to Attend: $100
  • Championship Wins: 1
  • Championship Losses: 0
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 18,680
  • Average Attendance: 14,322
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 77%

Image Credit: John Denton / Flickr.

34. Buffalo, New York

  • Teams: 2
  • Average Win Rate: 0.49
  • Price to Attend: $113
  • Championship Wins: 0
  • Championship Losses: 0
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 107,278
  • Average Attendance: 43,374
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 81%

Image Credit: alexeynovikov / DepositPhotos.

33. Minneapolis-St. Paul

  • Teams: 4
  • Average Win Rate: 0.51
  • Price to Attend: $109
  • Championship Wins: 0
  • Championship Losses: 0
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 141,676
  • Average Attendance: 27,866
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 79%

Image Credit: headlinephotos/ DepositPhotos.

32. Washington, D.C.

  • Teams: 4
  • Average Win Rate: 0.47
  • Price to Attend: $129
  • Championship Wins: 2
  • Championship Losses: 0
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 159,201
  • Average Attendance: 32,345
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 81%

Image Credit: wellesenterprises / iStock.

31. Phoenix

  • Teams: 4
  • Average Win Rate: 0.44
  • Price to Attend: $90
  • Championship Wins: 1
  • Championship Losses: 1
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 147,266
  • Average Attendance: 29,242
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 79%

Image Credit: Thousandwords / DepositPhotos.

30. Charlotte, North Carolina

  • Teams: 2
  • Average Win Rate: 0.39
  • Price to Attend: $106
  • Championship Wins: 0
  • Championship Losses: 2
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 93,944
  • Average Attendance: 44,361
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 94%

Image Credit: stonena7 / istockphoto.

29. Las Vegas

  • Teams: 1
  • Average Win Rate: 0.6
  • Price to Attend: $153
  • Championship Wins: 0
  • Championship Losses: 0
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 17,368
  • Average Attendance: 18,318
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 105%

Image Credit: CeriBreeze / DepositPhotos.

28. Portland, Oregon

  • Teams: 1
  • Average Win Rate: 0.57
  • Price to Attend: $117
  • Championship Wins: 0
  • Championship Losses: 0
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 19,441
  • Average Attendance: 19,496
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 100%

Image Credit: headlinephotos/ DepositPhotos.

27. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

  • Teams: 1
  • Average Win Rate: 0.51
  • Price to Attend: $93
  • Championship Wins: 0
  • Championship Losses: 1
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 18,203
  • Average Attendance: 18,203
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 100%

Image Credit: headlinephotos/ DepositPhotos.

26. Baltimore

  • Teams: 2
  • Average Win Rate: 0.54
  • Price to Attend: $87
  • Championship Wins: 2
  • Championship Losses: 0
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 116,979
  • Average Attendance: 43,487
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 74%

Image Credit: proshooter/ DepositPhotos.

25. Miami

  • Teams: 4
  • Average Win Rate: 0.49
  • Price to Attend: $104
  • Championship Wins: 3
  • Championship Losses: 3
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 140,918
  • Average Attendance: 26,496
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 75%

Image Credit: felixmizioznikov /iStock.

24. Atlanta

  • Teams: 3
  • Average Win Rate: 0.45
  • Price to Attend: $95
  • Championship Wins: 0
  • Championship Losses: 1
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 130,202
  • Average Attendance: 39,901
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 92%

Image Credit: bertys30 / DepositPhotos.

23. Detroit

  • Teams: 4
  • Average Win Rate: 0.34
  • Price to Attend: $96
  • Championship Wins: 3
  • Championship Losses: 3
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 145,930
  • Average Attendance: 33,076
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 91%

Image Credit: jhansen2 / DepositPhotos.

22. Tampa, Florida

  • Teams: 3
  • Average Win Rate: 0.59
  • Price to Attend: $99
  • Championship Wins: 4
  • Championship Losses: 2
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 130,482
  • Average Attendance: 28,575
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 66%

Image Credit: jackson1245 / Flickr.

21. Seattle

  • Teams: 2
  • Average Win Rate: 0.58
  • Price to Attend: $110
  • Championship Wins: 1
  • Championship Losses: 2
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 116,669
  • Average Attendance: 45,556
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 78%

Image Credit: bertys30 / DepositPhotos.

20. Nashville

  • Teams: 2
  • Average Win Rate: 0.57
  • Price to Attend: $121
  • Championship Wins: 0
  • Championship Losses: 0
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 86,256
  • Average Attendance: 40,977
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 95%

Image Credit: Thousandwords / DepositPhotos.

19. San Antonio

  • Teams: 1
  • Average Win Rate: 0.5
  • Price to Attend: $98
  • Championship Wins: 4
  • Championship Losses: 1
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 18,418
  • Average Attendance: 18,307
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 99%

Image Credit: headlinephotos/ DepositPhotos.

18. Indianapolis

  • Teams: 2
  • Average Win Rate: 0.57
  • Price to Attend: $116
  • Championship Wins: 1
  • Championship Losses: 1
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 84,923
  • Average Attendance: 38,961
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 92%

Image Credit: Sopotniccy / DepositPhotos.

17. Cleveland

  • Teams: 3
  • Average Win Rate: 0.45
  • Price to Attend: $99
  • Championship Wins: 1
  • Championship Losses: 5
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 122,368
  • Average Attendance: 36,263
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 89%

Image Credit: Thousandwords / DepositPhotos.

16. Pittsburgh

  • Teams: 3
  • Average Win Rate: 0.54
  • Price to Attend: $108
  • Championship Wins: 5
  • Championship Losses: 1
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 125,534
  • Average Attendance: 33,071
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 79%

Image Credit: proshooter/ DepositPhotos.

15. Green Bay, Wisconsin

  • Teams: 1
  • Average Win Rate: 0.68
  • Price to Attend: $193
  • Championship Wins: 1
  • Championship Losses: 0
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 81,441
  • Average Attendance: 77,845
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 96%

Image Credit: herreid / Deposit Photos.

14. Kansas City, Missouri

  • Teams: 2
  • Average Win Rate: 0.59
  • Price to Attend: $107
  • Championship Wins: 2
  • Championship Losses: 2
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 114,319
  • Average Attendance: 45,980
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 80%

Image Credit: Thousandwords / DepositPhotos.

13. Salt Lake City, Utah

  • Teams: 1
  • Average Win Rate: 0.65
  • Price to Attend: $90
  • Championship Wins: 0
  • Championship Losses: 0
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 18,306
  • Average Attendance: 18,306
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 100%

Image Credit: headlinephotos/ DepositPhotos.

12. Milwaukee

  • Teams: 2
  • Average Win Rate: 0.63
  • Price to Attend: $88
  • Championship Wins: 1
  • Championship Losses: 0
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 59,400
  • Average Attendance: 26,846
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 90%

Image Credit: Ffooter / DepositPhotos.

11. Houston

  • Teams: 3
  • Average Win Rate: 0.54
  • Price to Attend: $130
  • Championship Wins: 1
  • Championship Losses: 2
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 131,018
  • Average Attendance: 41,709
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 96%

Image Credit: actionsports / DepositPhotos.

10. Chicago

  • Teams: 5
  • Average Win Rate: 0.48
  • Price to Attend: $132
  • Championship Wins: 5
  • Championship Losses: 1
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 184,398
  • Average Attendance: 32,877
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 89%

Image Credit: proshooter/ DepositPhotos.

9. Dallas-Fort Worth

  • Teams: 4
  • Average Win Rate: 0.48
  • Price to Attend: $123
  • Championship Wins: 1
  • Championship Losses: 3
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 158,032
  • Average Attendance: 38,863
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 98%

Image Credit: bellafotosolo / DepositPhotos.

8. New Orleans

  • Teams: 2
  • Average Win Rate: 0.6
  • Price to Attend: $112
  • Championship Wins: 1
  • Championship Losses: 0
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 91,162
  • Average Attendance: 44,543
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 98%

Image Credit: SeanXu / iStock.

7. San Francisco/San Jose

  • Teams: 5
  • Average Win Rate: 0.49
  • Price to Attend: $110
  • Championship Wins: 6
  • Championship Losses: 5
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 192,238
  • Average Attendance: 30,816
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 71%

Image Credit: ericbvd / Deposit Photos.

6. St. Louis, Missouri

  • Teams: 2
  • Average Win Rate: 0.54
  • Price to Attend: $85
  • Championship Wins: 3
  • Championship Losses: 2
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 63,590
  • Average Attendance: 30,164
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 95%

Image Credit: hutchimagoo.

5. Philadelphia

  • Teams: 4
  • Average Win Rate: 0.52
  • Price to Attend: $124
  • Championship Wins: 2
  • Championship Losses: 3
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 150,407
  • Average Attendance: 36,067
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 96%

Image Credit: ablokhin/ iStock.

4. Denver

  • Teams: 4
  • Average Win Rate: 0.52
  • Price to Attend: $95
  • Championship Wins: 2
  • Championship Losses: 2
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 163,598
  • Average Attendance: 37,118
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 91%

Image Credit: alexeynovikov / DepositPhotos.

3. New York City

  • Teams: 9
  • Average Win Rate: 0.46
  • Price to Attend: $130
  • Championship Wins: 5
  • Championship Losses: 5
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 243,795
  • Average Attendance: 22,987
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 85%

Image Credit: headlinephotos/ DepositPhotos.

2. Los Angeles

  • Teams: 8
  • Average Win Rate: 0.47
  • Price to Attend: $123
  • Championship Wins: 9
  • Championship Losses: 5
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 244,986
  • Average Attendance: 25,813
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 84%

Image Credit: photoworksmedia / DepositPhotos.

1. Boston

  • Teams: 4
  • Average Win Rate: 0.59
  • Price to Attend: $155
  • Championship Wins: 12
  • Championship Losses: 4
  • Total Stadium Capacity: 139,822
  • Average Attendance: 34,512
  • Attendance % of Capacity: 99%

Related:

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