No. 7 Best City to Be a Sports Fan: Seattle
How much does where you live matter as a sports fan? The short answer: It depends.
If you're an Alabama football fan, there's no better place to live than Tuscaloosa. If you're a Red Sox fan, there's no worse place to live than New York City.
But what if you were a free agent, so to speak? What if you loved sports but didn't have a specific affiliation to any team? You're moving to a new city. What city would have the most to offer you as a sports fan? What city would give you the best overall experience?
That is what we're here to find out. We took 25 of the best writers from Bleacher Report and beyond to objectively look at their cities and come up with a ranking. To get a better understanding of the categories and grading criteria, click here.
Seattle comes in at No. 7. Let's find out why.
Number of Teams/Events: 15/20 Points
While the Seattle sports scene offers a wide variety of sports teams—including in the college ranks, as it's the home of the University of Washington—it loses points for one reason and one reason alone: It has no professional men's basketball team.
Although the city and its fans shouldn't be held accountable for that considering the NBA hasn't yet replaced the departed Seattle SuperSonics (now the Oklahoma City Thunder), as a resident of the city I can say unabashedly that it's the lone sport that's greatly needed during the winter months.
Still, that doesn't take away from the great franchises in town that fans to which fans gravitate.
We have the reigning Super Bowl champion Seahawks, an up-and-coming, exciting Mariners team with All-Stars at a few different positions and quite possibly the most popular Major League Soccer team in the country, the Seattle Sounders.
Sure, we might not have the NBA right now, but Seattle still has some of the best teams in all of sports—and with some great history, too.
Success of Teams in Last 5 Years: 15/20 Points
Everyone is well aware of the great success head coach Pete Carroll and his staff have had since taking over the Seahawks franchise back in 2010, including a raucous, thrilling playoff win in his first season at the helm over the then-defending champion New Orleans Saints.
After a one-year postseason absence, he guided the Seahawks to two straight playoff appearances, with this past campaign ending in the team's first Super Bowl victory.
But what about the other sports, you ask?
With MLS' Seattle Sounders debuting in 2009, the team saw instant success, recently collecting their fourth U.S. Open Cup tournament in the past six seasons last month as well as setting attendance records during friendlies against two European powers, FC Barcelona and Manchester United.
Lastly, in terms of major sports, we have the Seattle Mariners.
While the M's haven't had as much to boast about in the past five years as their Seattle counterparts, they have had one constant. Felix Hernandez has proved to be one of baseball's best pitchers in the past five years, collecting a Cy Young Award, signing a long-term deal to stay in Seattle and starting the 2014 All-Star Game.
The franchise hasn't been to the playoffs since 2001, which drops the city's ranking here. Still, with their surprising success this season and Robinson Cano added to the lineup, the Mariners made a run at the postseason in 2014—though they narrowly missed out during the last weekend of the regular season.
Stadiums: 9/10 Points
When it comes to home-field advantage, it doesn't get much better than CenturyLink Field, home to both the Seahawks and Sounders.
The NFL is still trying to figure out how to deal with the noise that pours down to the field and constantly causes false starts by opposing teams.
With the Sounders, The Clink has proved to be just as much a part of their success as it has for the Seahawks. As of early October, they are 19-9-3 in regular-season games, with a showdown with the L.A. Galaxy this month to decide the Supporters' Shield as the top team in the league's regular season.
As for the Mariners' home, Safeco Field may have opened 15 years ago but still packs quite a punch and has every amenity a fan would want when watching a baseball game.
Located in the SoDo District, each stadium offers a diverse menu and phenomenal beer. Sitting across the street from each other, they serve as the premier spot for all Seattle sports fans with solid parking options and entertainment to enjoy before and after games.
Fan Passion: 8/10 Points
When it comes to both passion and knowledge of sports teams, few can beat Seattle fans.
While most are familiar with the passion for the Seahawks—where the team went 15-1 at home the past two seasons and the crowd broke the noise record for any stadium—some may not know how diehard these fans are about their soccer.
Sure, the rest of the States jumped onto the U.S. national team bandwagon during the squad's World Cup run this summer, but in Seattle it was pretty much par for the course. Fans fill the streets on a march into the stadium from the neighboring bars before each home game, creating a unity built on cheers and songs.
Don't forget about the U-Dub fans who can be found sporting their purple-and-gold shirts around town. Plus, many alumni stick around and get to Husky games in all different sports.
So what prevents Seattle's fan passion from earning a higher number?
Unfortunately, as well as the Mariners have done this year, fans still haven't exactly bought into the team, as Safeco Field is often just half-full during games.
Yes, Mariners fans are everywhere around town and show support with T-shirts, hats and car stickers, but until they show up at more games, the fan passion gets a solid passing grade.
General Fan Experience: 13/15 Points
This is one area in which Seattle really stands above the rest.
With state-of-the-art stadiums, big stars in each sport and teams that have generally performed well over the past few seasons, the fan experience is one that will leave any visitor amazed.
Whether it's visiting The 'Pen beer garden in center field at Mariners games, standing among the swarm of people chanting intensely during Sounders games or being one of the maniacal fans losing their voice at Seahawks games, going to a sporting event in Seattle is both fun and memorable.
The people are endearing and well-informed about both teams competing, and while there will always be a few drunken arguments, they are few and far between, with most generally there to have a great time.
Media: 8/10 Points
Even though Seattle finds itself the 13th-biggest media market in this year's Nielsen rankings, I still feel as though the media isn't as overbearing as some of the other cities I've lived in.
Maybe it's just the laid-back style of the city itself. Maybe fans are so passionate that they don't need as much coverage.
Whatever the reason, the media does a solid job of keeping this city informed and doing some cool, innovative news features. After the death of legendary Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus in 2010, though, the city lacks a big, recognizable media personality with whom fans around the country are possibly familiar.
Star Power: 9/10 Points
Anytime a city's NFL team comes off a Super Bowl win, it's only natural for players on the roster to grow tremendously in the national discussion. Seattle has begun to see that happen.
Seahawks such as quarterback Russell Wilson, running back Marshawn Lynch and the entire Legion of Boom secondary have seen opportunities off the field grow tremendously—just look at cornerback Richard Sherman earning the cover of Madden NFL 15 this year.
As for other sports, the Sounders are fortunate enough to have two key members of the U.S. men's national team: captain Clint Dempsey and rising star DeAndre Yedlin.
Now that they added former New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano to their lineup, the Mariners have a two-headed monster with Cano and pitching ace Felix Hernandez.
Unlike other cities with big-name stars, Seattle is still small enough that fans feel close to their players, creating an atmosphere that's almost familial.
Tradition/History: 4/5 Points
Do the names Alex Rodriguez, Ichiro Suzuki, Ken Griffey Jr. and Randy Johnson mean anything to you?
How about Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton?
And don't forget about Steve Largent, Cortez Kennedy and Walter Jones.
These are all former stars who enjoyed great success in the Emerald City, bringing fans memories that will never escape them.
Although the Seattle SuperSonics aren't an NBA team these days, if and when they ever do return to the city the new crop of kids will have a legacy to build on. The franchise has an NBA championship on its resume, as the Sonics defeated the Washington Bullets in 1979 to win the first major title in the city's history.
Since then, the Mariners have collected the most regular-season wins ever—earning 116 in the 2001 season—and the Seahawks recently hoisted the Lombardi Trophy for the first time ever.
Even with the Sounders still just five years old, the club has also had some moments worth remembering, adding to the impressive annals of the Seattle sports scene.
Final Tally: 81/100
While Seattle may just be known for the birth of grunge music and a lot of rain, one would be foolish to discount what the city has going on with each of its sports teams.
Although it may not be cleaning up in championships year after year, the city boasts incredible stadiums, a large, passionate fanbase and superstars who amp up the fans.
With young, exciting teams on the rise in each of the major sports, you can bet Seattle will continue to make an even bigger ripple among all other cities in sports.