SBJ/July 25 - 31, 2005/SBJ In Depth

How major league markets stack up

In markets that are home to at least one MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL or MLS team, 55.3 million fans attended minor league games, making the smaller leagues a critical component to the operating budgets of major league venues.

San Francisco, Raleigh, Minneapolis and Pittsburgh are the only big league markets not to host a minor league team. On the other hand, Memphis, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Buffalo and Indianapolis each had minor league attendance of more than 3.5 million over the past five seasons, thanks to Class AAA and other minor league teams.

Listed here is a look at the five-year minor league attendance in these markets, the percentage of seats that were filled over that period, and how each market would rank if it were included in the larger chart in this In-Depth..

Market (rank)
Attendance
% capacity
New venue
Current team(s) Lost team(s)
Anaheim (224)
76,632
27.9%
NLL Anaheim Storm
Atlanta (206)
507,370
27.2%
Yes
ECHL Gwinnett Gladiators, USL Atlanta Silverbacks
Baltimore (205)
529,803
44.3%
MISL Baltimore Blast, MLL Baltimore Bayhawks
Boston (217)
126,011
47.0%
MLL Boston Cannons
Buffalo (25)
3,700,390
42.1%
IL Buffalo Bisons, NLL Buffalo Bandits MISL Buffalo Blizzard
Charlotte (61)
2,382,751
47.4%
ECHL Charlotte Checkers, IL Charlotte Knights
Chicago (37)
2,717,652
56.0%
AHL Chicago Wolves, FL Windy City Thunderbolts, MISL Chicago Storm, NL Schaumburg Flyers XFL Chicago Enforcers
Cincinnati (202)
1,550,789
39.0%
NIFL Cincinnati Marshals, AF2 Cincinnati Swarm AHL Mighty Ducks, ECHL Cincinnati Cyclones, USL Cincinnati Kings
Cleveland (62)
1,196,017
34.7%
AHL Cleveland Barons, MISL Cleveland Force IHL Cleveland Lumberjacks
Columbus (96)
2,548,306
45.5%
IL Columbus Clippers, NLL Columbus LandSharks UHL Columbus Stars
Dallas (239)
244,743
40.5%
MISL Dallas Sidekicks
Denver (208)
409,131
94.7%
NLL Colorado Mammoth
Detroit (238)
754,690
32.4%
UHL Motor City Mechanics IHL Detroit Vipers, MISL Detroit Rockers
East Rutherford, N.J. (262)
230,737
41.8%
NIFL New Jersey Xtreme, NLL New Jersey Storm, XFL New York/New Jersey Hitmen
Green Bay (231)
53,126
41.5%
Yes
AF2 Green Bay Blizzard IFL Green Bay Bombers
Houston (124)
1,174,366
37.6%
AHL Houston Aeros MISL Houston Hotshots
Indianapolis (15)
3,572,459
55.5%
IL Indianapolis Indians CHL Indianapolis Ice
Jacksonville (98)
1,689,043
45.6%
SL Jacksonville Suns, SPHL Jacksonville Barracudas AF2 Jacksonville Tomcats, ECHL Jacksonville Lizard Kings
Kansas City (35)
1,391,512
36.1%
Yes
MISL Kansas City Comets, NL Kansas City T-Bones UHL Kansas City Blades, UHL Kansas City Outlaws
Los Angeles (222)
730,596
55.3%
ECHL Long Beach Ice Dogs XFL Los Angeles Xtreme
Memphis (13)
4,840,128
70.9%
Yes
AF2 Memphis Xplorers, CHL Memphis Riverkings, PCL Memphis Redbirds* XFL Memphis Maniax
Miami (228)
1,809
2.6%
NIFL Miami Morays
Milwaukee (23)
1,673,609
34.9%
AHL Milwaukee Admirals, MISL Milwaukee Wave, USL Milwaukee Rampage
Nashville (107)
1,692,182
48.4%
PCL Nashville Sounds
New Orleans (103)
2,273,196
47.9%
PCL New Orleans Zephyrs ECHL New Orleans Brass
New York (246)
125,312
32.3%
NLL New York Saints
Orlando (260)
430,004
55.4%
ACHL Orlando Seals, IHL Orlando Solar Bears, XFL Orlando Rage
Philadelphia (21)
2,529,907
44.6%
AHL Philadelphia Phantoms, MISL Philadelphia Kixx, MLL Philadelphia Barrage, NLL Philadelphia Wings
Phoenix (234)
633,234
30.8%
NLL Arizona Sting ECHL Phoenix Roadrunners, MISL Arizona Thunder
Portland (154)
1,845,154
27.6%
Yes
PCL Portland Beavers, USL Portland Timbers MISL Portland Pythons, NWL Portland Rockies
Sacramento (34)
4,343,929
83.0%
Yes
PCL Sacramento River Cats WISL Sacramento Knights
Salt Lake City (41)
3,857,599
48.3%
AHL Utah Grizzlies, PCL Salt Lake Stingers WISL Utah Freeze, NIFL Utah Warriors
San Antonio (22)
2,421,751
54.8%
TL San Antonio Missions, AHL San Antonio Rampage
San Diego (86)
1,375,436
44.7%
AF2 San Diego Riptide, ECHL San Diego Gulls MISL San Diego Sockers
San Jose (106)
828,497
48.2%
CAL San Jose Giants, NLL San Jose Stealth
Seattle (240)
170,847
30.5%
USL Seattle Sounders
St. Louis (210)
165,389
41.3%
MISL St. Louis Steamers
St. Petersburg (244)
61,962
14.1%
FSL St. Petersburg Devil Rays
Tampa (199)
415,618
13.2%
FSL Tampa Yankees
Washington (257)
46,973
15.9%
NLL Washington Power
* The team is owned and operated by a nonprofit organization, and revenue is donated to local charities.
Notes: New venues reflect only those built specifically for minor league teams.
Soccer teams listed are USL First Division only.
Source: Research by David Broughton, SportsBusiness Journal
Research does not include expansion teams that have not yet played.

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