What are the top five sports cities in the United States?
After careful analysis, and colorful discussion with sports junkies such as myself; New York, Boston, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, and Miami make up the top 10 in my opinion.
All of these cities are rich in sports tradition and have consistently had highly successful franchises in multiple sports coupled with a strong fan base. One could make compelling arguments for any of them. It was very tough to get it to 10.
There are cities not on this list that have very strong followings in a sport, but are not large media markets and are primarily limited to one franchise of significance (i.e. Kansas City, Chiefs; Washington, Skins and now the Nationals) It is difficult to pick only five cities.
Lets explore not just only picking five, lets rank them in order and understand why.
Of course, this is just my opinion and I welcome feedback from all of my fellow sports enthusiasts. The governing criteria I am using is, what are the top five cities, for today and the foreseeable future, in professional sports. Public interest and media attention play a big role in my analysis.
This is a list relating to the current top five, not the historical top five. Times change and this is my view is reflective of the ongoing evolution of the best sports cities in the U.S.
Extracting the top five and why:
5) Pittsburgh - The only thing really going on in Pittsburgh is their affinity for sports. This is the only city where all three of their professional teams have coordinated their uniform colors. Yellow, black and white are synonymous with Pittsburgh. Their tradition is great and the fans are passionate. It is a small media market (compared to others on this list), but you have to give them their props. No frills and gritty but a great sports city.
4) Philadelphia - Big city and media market. Rich tradition in all four major sports. Loyal and LOUD fan base. Phillies are strong in baseball presently and historically. Flyers have a rich history in hockey. 76'rs have three championships and are named after the year of our Deceleration of Independence. The Eagles are usually highly competitive and we all want to see how they are going to do in the post McNabb era, and the Michael Vick saga is drawing national interest.
3) Boston - Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins. Need I say more?...Very rich in history for all of their sports. They consistently have a winning team in the market in at least one of the sports. Great fan base. People tune in when a Boston team is playing. They probably bring higher ratings as a result of viewers that want to see them loose rather than win. The Celtics are a hot brand to watch right now.
2) New York - Giants, Jets, Yankees, Mets, Knicks (and soon Nets in BK), Rangers. All great brands. Largest media market in the country.
Jets seem to be assembling a team that is going to be interesting to watch (I don't think that Sanchez is the stud QB, and they are really old in age as a squad), but we all want to see what happens there. The media will be watching.
The Giants have fans all over the world.
Yankees, well they are the Yankees and will always be a big draw. New York normally would be number one on this list, except....
1) MIAMI - The best off-season in sports on both the football and basketball fronts. Brandon Marshall and Dansby's arrivals in Miami coupled with everyone monitoring the Big Tuna's success (or lack of) will have the Fins at the forefront of NFL attention.They introduced the Wildcat to the NFL, which is the most revolutionary change in the game in recent history and is consistently discussed on NFL related programing. They are a legitimate Supper Bowl contender. The city of Miami has hosted the most supper bowls in history. People are watching the Fins.
The Marlins have won two world series titles and are the first wild card team to ever do so and they are getting a brand new stadium.
The Florida Panthers draw very well in attendance, especially considering that hockey is not native to South Florida. They went to the Cup Finals in 1996 and had the whole bit of throwing rats on the ice. Impressive the traction they have gotten in such a short time in an area one would not associate with hockey.
And now for the main reason I have Miami at number one on this list, the Miami Heat! This is the biggest story in sports today. Every night Sports Center will either lead with the Heat of have them featured in some capacity. Win or loose, their performance will be micro analyzed around the world in sports publications. The Heat are of interest beyond just a sports story. All eyes are on now on Miami.
The focus on the Heat, in all probability, will have a spill over effect to the other Miami teams. Miami is quickly becoming the "IT" spot for sports. With the youth factor of all four of their professional teams, it appears that they will all be relevant for a while. The Heat and Dolphins having a chance to be dominant for several years.
Miami is very rich in it's sports history. The Dolphins have five supper bowl appearances and the 1972 perfect season. The Miami Heat are the youngest franchise to ever make the playoffs in 1992. They won the title in 2006. Now they have the Big 3. The Marlins have two World Series titles.
Some may note that I excluded L.A. from the top five. My reasoning is that besides the Lakers (and Dodgers a very distant second), this is a city of fair-weather fans. The Raiders are terrible, I don't understand why the Clippers even exist and Los Angeles is just generally not a sports town. The Lakers are the only exception, but these fans are really and truly "Hollywood". None of the other L.A. teams, in this huge market, currently command too much attention on a national level.
I don't think that any L.A. teams, besides the Lakers, will draw high T.V.ratings over the next 2-3 years, thus they are not in the top five.
Chicago was a tough one not to put in the top five as well. The Blackhawks won the cup, but hockey's ratings are low and none of the other Chicago teams are really doing too much. Some may say the Bulls, I say not so much. None the less, it was a tough call.
This was a tough list to compile. Of course this is all subjective. I am only giving my perspective. Your thoughts and feedback are welcomed. Please share your thoughts and insights. I want to hear from you!
Thank you all for the read,
George Anaya Jr