Ranking the 10 Best Sports Cities of 2010s

Giancarlo Ferrari-King@@GiancarloKingFeatured ColumnistMay 3, 2016

Ranking the 10 Best Sports Cities of 2010s

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    Paul Beaty/Associated Press

    What characterizes a great sports city? Is it championships? Superstar athletes? How about passionate, rabid, pronounced fandom?

    The answer is an undefined blend of all those ingredients—sort of like your grandmother’s secret chicken recipe. But one thing we do know is that excellent sports permeate across the United States.

    Looking back on titles won, players acquired, superstars born and other unforgettable memories, it’s now time to rank the 10 best professional sports cities of the 2010s, so far.

10. St. Louis

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    St. Louis was a three-team city prior to the Rams departing for sunny Los Angeles. Although the Rams are out the door, the Cardinals and Blues have continuously carried the slack.

    Between the Blues and Cardinals, St. Louis has celebrated one World Series win and 10 playoff appearances. It’s a city that has been fortunate enough to be blessed with a driven culture.

    It’s cool to see both teams step up and compete. Perhaps one day, the Blues will join the Cards as another championship-winning franchise.

    Championships Won: 1

    Winning Seasons: 12

    Noteworthy Superstars: Albert Pujols, Matt Holiday, Chris Carpenter, Vladimir Tarasenko, Paul Stastny, T.J. Oshie, Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn

9. Seattle

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    Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images

    Head coach Pete Carroll’s Seattle Seahawks are the main reason this city has to be mentioned. Seattle's second biggest franchise—the Mariners—have struggled, putting forth one winning season since 2010.

    Over on the football side of things, an identity was forged that turned the Seahawks into a championship-winning, defensive-driven tour de force.

    The Seahawks have made the playoffs five out of a possible six seasons, winning double-digit games over the last four years. It’s a team created around homegrown superstars like Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and more—a refreshing change of pace from other squads out there today.

    Carroll and general manager John Schneider’s team-building mantra has worked remarkably well thus far, turning Seattle into one of the nation’s elite hubs for sports.

    Championships Won: 1

    Winning Seasons: 12

    Noteworthy Superstars: Russell Wilson, Robinson Cano, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Clint Dempsey, Felix Hernandez, Ichiro Suzuki

8. New York

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    New York has been a sports town that has counted on consistency. Recent times have been challenging, but that fabric remains intact in someway or another.

    On one side, the Yankees have reached the postseason five out of the last six seasons. Even with their last World Series win coming in 2009, the Bronx Bombers at least have given fans a hearty dose of playoff baseball.

    Across town, the Mets turned their misfortunes around, reaching the World Series in ‘15. Even though they were on the losing end, the team is full of youth, dynamic pitching and strong bats. It’s certainly shaping up to be a memorable decade of Mets baseball.

    Pro hoops have given way for two New York franchises. The Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks, though suffering over the last few seasons, have produced a combined total of six playoff appearances.

    On the ice, the Rangers have remained competitive, playing in one Stanley Cup while reaching the playoffs six seasons in a row.

    On the bright side, at least the Giants won another Super Bowl in 2011—against the New England Patriots.

    Again, all of those championships may not be there minus the Giants, but for the most part, winning remains a staple of this city. When you factor in the Islanders’ recent playoff surge, the Giants and Jets continued push and the introduction of New York FC in ‘15 into the MLS, this concrete jungle sure has a lot to be proud about.

    Championships Won: 1

    Winning Seasons: 25

    Noteworthy Superstars: Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Carmelo Anthony, Brook Lopez, Henrik Lundqvist, Matt Harvey, Mariano Rivera, Mark Teixeira, Noah Syndergaard, David Wright, Mats Zuccarello, Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., Darrelle Revis, Brandon Marshall, John Tavares

7. Denver

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    Denver has continually been a place swamped with sports-related headlines—especially when it comes to the Broncos.

    As if Tim Tebow’s tenure with the Broncos didn't provide enough drama, upper management swooped in and brought Peyton Manning in as the team’s leader prior to the 2012 season.

    The team leaned on a record-setting Manning and an influx of cash to build a perennial contender and eventual Super Bowl-winning team.

    Bronco nation has captured the show. They’ve produced countless stars through free agency and the draft. You have guys like Von Miller, Aqib Talib, even former quarterback Brock Oswelier got blessed with a mega-deal by the Houston Texans this past offseason, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

    Outside of the Broncos, the Rockies, Nuggets and Avalanche haven’t been quite as powerful. If you add all three franchise’s up together, they’ve combined for five playoff appearances since ‘10—three of which belong to the Nuggets.

    Still, between the Broncos success and the fact that the Colorado Rapids won the MLS Cup in 2010, Denver belongs here.

    Championships Won: 2

    Winning Seasons: 13

    Noteworthy Superstars: Peyton Manning, Von Miller, Aqib Talib, Demaryius Thomas, Conor Casey, Carmelo Anthony, Troy Tulowitzki, Todd Helton, Matt Duchene, Nolan Arenado, Carlos Gonzalez

6. Miami

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    LeBron James coming to your city should be enough to warrant a place on this list. Winning two NBA championships with the King on your side is a definite way to secure that spot.

    The city of Miami has spent the better part of the 2010s as sport’s version of the Galactic Republic. James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade all signed in ‘10, creating the Heat’s infamous Big Three.

    This NBA superteam cruised to four-straight Finals, winning two along the way and turning countless fans outside of the 305 zip code against them.

    Those titles set the city on fire. Winning turned all of that art deco architecture into more of a sports haven.

    One team isn’t grounds for being dubbed a terrific sports city, unless you have the rings and star power to back it up. Even with the Miami Marlins failing to register a single winning season over the last five years and the Dolphins playing second fiddle to the New England Patriots, the Heat have more than made up for it.

    As the Heat’s 2016 playoff push continues, this city continues to thrive strictly on great basketball and star power—despite the loss of James.

    Championships Won: 2

    Winning Seasons: 5

    Noteworthy Superstars: LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Giancarlo Stanton, Jake Long, Brandon Marshall, Reggie Bush, Dee Gordon

5. Kansas City

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Kansas City has become a place focused on the art of rebuilding. Between the Royals and Chiefs, a winning culture is now part of the city’s DNA.

    The Royals went from 67 wins in 2010 to playing in back-to-back World Series in ‘14 and ‘15—winning the latter appearance. These days, the blue bombers have cemented themselves not only as a championship contender, but also as a franchise of brilliant baseball minds, which other teams across the globe can use as a blueprint of how to compete with a small payroll—the team ranks No. 14 in payroll for 2016, per Spotrac.

    Not to be outdone, the Chiefs have also bounced between contenders, rebuilding mode and contenders once again in a matter of six seasons.

    Using 2010 as a base platform for measurement, the Chiefs have enjoyed four winning seasons—three-straight with Andy Reid as head coach.

    It’s all about structure and competition under Reid’s guiding hand. The Chiefs seem to be a franchise on the cusp of making a deep playoff push when you consider that they won 11 games last season. The roster has remained tight thanks to a philosophy of keeping their own guys, per Joel Thorman of Arrowhead Pride.

    Between the successes of these two franchises—not to mention Sporting Kansas City winning the MLS Cup in 2013—Kansas City has spent the good part of the last six seasons enjoying the fruits of its labor.

    Championships Won: 2

    Winning Seasons: 12

    Noteworthy Superstars: Justin Houston, Jamaal Charles, Tamba Hali, Eric Berry, Travis Kelce, Alex Gordon, Edinson Volquez, Graham Zusi, Claudio Bieler

4. Chicago

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    No, the Chicago Cubs haven’t yet won a World Series title—perhaps 2016 will change all of that and propel this city to No. 1 on the list. Regardless, Chicago as a sports town has grown in leaps and bounds since 2010.

    The Blackhawks turned into a mini dynasty, winning three Stanley Cups in 2010, ‘13 and ‘15. They’ve become a model franchise in hockey, while simultaneously taking over as the best team in Chicago.

    Chicago also plays host to a handful of superstar athletes. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Kris Bryant, Jon Lester, Chris Sale, Alshon Jeffery and others have constantly given fans something to cheer for.

    As a whole, this city has been uber-competitive since 2010. This year alone, the Blackhawks reached the playoffs and the Bulls just missed out on the big dance. Meanwhile, the White Sox and Cubs are both in first place when it comes to their respective divisions.

    Not many cities out there compare to the greatness that lines the streets of Chicago.

    Championships Won: 3

    Winning Seasons: 19

    Noteworthy Superstars: Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marion Hossa, Duncan Keith, Corey Crawford, Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Devin Hester, Kris Bryant, Chris Sale, Jon Lester

3. Boston

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    Billie Weiss/Getty Images

    Boston and the greater New England area has always been a feverish place for sports. The New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics have all turned this city into a rare multi-sport channel of dominance.

    It starts with quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots. Very few franchises in sports can compare with the consistency this team brings on a yearly basis.

    Using 2010 as our benchmark, the Pats haven’t won less than 12 games in any season from that point forward. That’s a remarkable achievement. Especially in a league like the NFL, which harbors parody.

    Two Super Bowl appearances—one resulted in a victory—and six out of six division titles. It's hard to top that.

    Where Boston starts to stray away from the rest of the pack comes down to multiple teams enjoying attention. Since 2010, the Red Sox have a World Series title to fall back on, the Bruins have a Stanley Cup win, even the Celtics have remained competitive from its Big Three days up until the Brad Stevens’ rebuild era.

    It’s a city that permeates success and few eras showcase that like the 2010s.

    Championships Won: 3

    Winning Seasons: 21

    Noteworthy Superstars: Tom Brady, Darrelle Revis, Rob Gronkowski, Devin McCourty, Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Zdeno Chara, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Isaiah Thomas, Tim Thomas, Milan Lucic

2. Bay Area

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    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    If championships are what you’re looking for, then the Bay Area has done a noteworthy job of accumulating them.

    Take the San Francisco Giants as an example. They’ve won three World Series titles since 2010, becoming a modern-day dynasty in the process.

    Near the “fire truck red” Golden Gate Bridge, the Warriors aren’t slouches either. They have an NBA title to their credit, the most regular-season wins by any team in NBA history—73 this season—and have also played home to two of the best shooters in NBA history in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

    Our formula to ranking these cities has been predicated on winning, star power and competition. The Bay Area has surpassed every other city in that regard.

    Even the 49ers—now led by head coach Chip Kelly—played in three-straight Conference Championship games and one Super Bowl from 2011 until ‘13.

    It's been a wide-ranging level of success that's rarely found amongst today's big cities.

    Championships Won: 4

    Winning Seasons: 15

    Noteworthy Superstars: Pablo Sandoval, Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey, Patrick Willis, Justin Smith, Frank Gore, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Tim Lincecum, Hunter Pence, Sonny Gray

1. Los Angeles

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Los Angeles has always been a palm-tree laden, expansive mecca for sports. The city has played host to the Lakers for Magic Johnson’s sake.

    In recent years, Los Angeles has grown into more of a prominent, well-balanced destination. The Dodgers have been strapped with the largest payroll in baseball at a cool $249 million, according to Spotrac.  

    Meanwhile, the Clippers, once dubbed a laughing stock of Los Angeles hoops—see Michael Olowokandi—have actually surpassed the Lakers in recent years—minus the Lakers' 2010 NBA title—notching five-straight playoff berths.

    Over on the MLS side of things, the Galaxy have remained dominant, winning three MLS Cups dating back to 2011.

    Winning in Los Angeles doesn’t end on a field or on the hardwood. Take the Kings for example. They have become two-time champions, raising Lord Stanley’s Cup in 2012 and once again in ‘14.

    Usually having a cohesive winning culture breeds superstars. In that regard, Los Angeles has plenty to go around. All you have to do is check each team’s roster and, minus the Lakers, they’re flush with great athletes.

    Oh yeah, L.A. also got itself an NFL franchise. The Los Angeles Rams coming back marks the first time pro pigskin will be played there since Bill Clinton was in office.

    How’s that for an impactful sports city?

    Championships Won: 6

    Winning Seasons: 25

    Noteworthy Superstars: Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, Jonathan Quick, Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, David Beckham, Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar, Yasiel Puig, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke

    All stats and information via Sports-Reference.com, unless noted otherwise.

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