SBD/August 9, 2013/Franchises

SBD/SBJ Countdown To Top Minor League Market: No. 2 Rochester

SBD and SBJ next Monday will unveil our biennial ranking of the country’s top minor league markets among more than 225 communities nationwide. It is a project that takes into consideration more than 400 teams and close to 50 leagues as well as almost 250 million fans in total minor league attendance over the past five seasons. The countdown to No. 1 is underway, and today we look at the No. 2 market -- Rochester, N.Y.

TEAM
FIRST YEAR
VENUE
YEAR OPENED
Triple-A Int'l League Rochester Red Wings
1895
Frontier Field
1996
AHL Rochester Americans
1956
Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial
1955
USL Pro Rochester Rhinos
1996
Sahlen's Stadium
2006
MISL Rochester Lancers
2011
Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial
1955
       

PROUD TO BE AMERICANS: Rochester continues to be a stalwart among minor league markets after missing out on the top 10 in '11 for the first time in the survey’s history. (The market finished at No. 1 in '05, No. 4 in '07 and No. 10 in '09.) Big gains at the gate for the AHL Americans helped the market rise up, with the club drawing nearly one million fans over the past five seasons. Average attendance at Blue Cross Arena during the '12-13 season was up 63% from a record low mark for the '10-11 season. It is probably no coincidence that the rise at the gate has come under Terry Pegula’s ownership. The Sabres owner took control of the club in May '11, and he proceeded to spend an estimated $5M while aligning the Amerks’ operation with that of its new parent club. The team had been affiliated with the Panthers since '08.

WINGS' ZONE: The Triple-A Int'l League Red Wings drew an average of 6,094 fans per game in '12, marking the club’s lowest mark since the '02 season. The club is, however, the oldest minor league team in North America, having run continuously since 1895. For the survey formula, that tenure helps offset the attendance dip.

FACTS & FIGURES: Rochester’s teams could accommodate more than 1.4 million fans per year at 100% capacity, more than any other market in our study. The five-year average attendance of 754,000 equals the average population during that span, which helps the market’s overall score. That ratio is down from the mid-2000s, though, when the area averaged 900,000 fans per year. Among the top 30 markets, only Tacoma, Wash., and Providence-Pawtucket, R.I., have more total wealth.

ON DECK: The No.1 market in our study is anchored by a club that is nearly synonymous with the market itself, in part through one of the most memorable TV product placements in sports history.

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