SBJ/Aug. 12-18, 2013/Research and Ratings

Print All
  • Minor League Markets: Around the country

    Wichita, Kan. (No. 54)

    While waiting for a few indoor football seasons to wrap up last month — those seasons would cap off our research — we did a preliminary ranking based on the numbers we had already gathered. The result was a near-statistical tie for No. 10 between Spokane, Wash.; Sioux Falls, S.D.; and Wichita, three markets with playoff-bound football teams. But when the news came later in July that the MISL Wichita Wings were folding after just two seasons, Wichita’s rank dropped. MISL officials say they expect a new franchise will replace the Wings in Wichita, but the league will not field a soccer team in the market for the 2013-14 season.

    Wichita has two new facilities and one renovated venue that have debuted in recent years, and two of its three remaining franchises — the American Association Wichita Wingnuts and CHL Wichita Thunder — have been in town for more than 20 years. Because of the those strengths, and because our methodology largely forgives a one-year absence of a team, Wichita could contend for top-10 status in our 2015 survey if soccer returns for 2014-15.

    Johnstown, Pa. (No. 229)

    Perhaps Johnstown’s sports legacy is best suited for the entertainment world.

    The 1977 movie “Slap Shot,” featuring Paul Newman as an aging hockey player/coach, was a parody loosely based on the real-life Johnstown Jets (called the Charlestown Chiefs in the film) and their North American Hockey League championship in 1976. The city’s real-life hockey team relocated to Greenville, S.C., following the completion of the 2009-10 ECHL season.

    The 1983 movie “All the Right Moves,” starring Tom Cruise, Lea Thompson and Craig T. Nelson, was filmed in Johnstown and depicted a high school football team set in the fictional town of Ampipe. The film’s title could be seen as a misnomer of sorts, as the market saw four indoor football teams fold between 2000 and 2012.

    Finally, in his 1980 hit “The River,” Bruce Springsteen croons “I got a job working construction, for the Johnstown Company, but lately there ain’t been much work on account of the economy.” Since then, the market’s population has dropped 41 percent, to 21,000, according to U.S. census data.

    Looking Ahead

    If the local plans in Loudon County, Va., come to fruition, that market would make its debut in our study in 2015. Ground was broken this spring on $32 million, 5,500-seat Edelman Financial Field, which is scheduled to open next summer as home to the expansion Atlantic League (Ind.) Loudoun Hounds and NASL Virginia Cavalry FC. The Washington, D.C., suburb has high expectations for the teams, as the market has the highest median household income of any county in the United States ($119,000 per household), according to the most recent U.S. census data. It also was the fourth fastest-growing market in the United States between 2000 and 2012, nearly doubling its population to 334,000 during that time period. We’ll be watching.

    Print | Tags: Research and Ratings
  • Top Minor League Markets: About this project

    What we researched
    235 markets
    47 leagues
    408 teams
    249.8 million in total minor league attendance
    $2.64 billion in construction at 50 new or extensively renovated venues

    Defining the markets

    Each league studied for this project was asked to provide a list of its member teams’ territories or boundaries. Thirteen minor league teams had no designated boundary. In those cases, if the team shared a market with another minor league team, the same boundary was applied to each club. In the absence of a shared team, which was the case in six markets, one of the 3,138 U.S. census market designations was used.

    Attendance was included for the five most recently completed seasons for each league whose regular season finished by July 31 of this year. For baseball teams, attendance was included for the 2008-12 seasons.

    Teams playing in the National Women’s Soccer League, whose inaugural season began in April and runs through the end of August, were not tracked.

    The Highland Heights, Ky.; Huntington, W.Va.; La Crosse, Wis.; Tupelo, Miss.; Wenatchee, Wash.; and Ypsilanti, Mich., markets were researched but not included in the final ranking because sufficient attendance data was unavailable for any season played by a team in those markets during the measured period. Each market hosted a single indoor football team that no longer exists.

    Attendance figures used were based on team and league official reports, conversations with facility officials, and box scores. Numerous attempts to acquire comprehensive attendance figures directly from the Continental Indoor Football League were unsuccessful, although data was provided by several teams or their respective arenas. Additionally, the International Basketball League is not represented in the study. League officials said attendance from their clubs was not available, so no such figures were included in the research.

    Wailuku, Maui, is the only market in the Pacific Association baseball league that is present in the study. Attendance data was not available for the Pacific Association, which began play this spring, but the Na Koa Ikaika Maui club played previously in leagues for which attendance information was available. That made it possible to include Wailuku, Maui, in the ranking.

    As is the case at all levels of organized sports, reported attendance can vary from being a turnstile count to the number of tickets sold to the number of tickets distributed. Ticket prices were not factored into the ranking formula. The ranking also does not take into account other sports options in each market, such as racetracks, high-profile college programs or major junior hockey leagues. In addition, markets that are home to a major league franchise in addition to having a minor league team were not included in the ranking.

    This is the fifth time SportsBusiness Journal has produced this ranking, the first coming in 2005, and then every other year since. Analyzing a total of 14 years of data over the course of these five studies, we’ve learned that win-loss percentages for the majority of baseball and hockey teams — about 70 percent of the teams tracked in the study are in these two sports — create little attendance variance, so that criterion is excluded from the methodology.

    All leagues were assigned the same weight. In addition, references to a “current” or “lost” team pertain to a club’s most recent moniker and league. For example, Odessa, Texas, was home to the Indoor Football League West Texas Roughnecks for 2009-11, and the team played at various times under other names in the Intense Football League and National Indoor Football League leading up to that stint. But it’s the Lone Star Football League West Texas Roughnecks, who played in 2012 but not 2013, that are listed by name in the research.

    Calculating the score

    A market’s total score is the result of three category-specific scores: tenure rank, attendance rank and economic rank.

    Tenure rank: This score, which accounts for two-thirds of each market’s grade, comes from a formula that includes such support measurements as each team’s length of presence in its market and the total number of team-years in the last five seasons. If, for example, a market hosted a baseball team and a hockey team in each of the last five seasons, plus an NBA D-League team for one season, it received credit for 11 out of a possible 15 team-years.

    Markets were penalized for having teams that folded or moved, but that penalty became less if it saw a team in that same sport return to town with only one season of play lost.

    The 50 markets that completed construction on at least one new or extensively upgraded minor league facility between 2008 and 2013 received extra credit. Markets with venues under construction but not open as of press time did not receive extra credit.

    Our tenure category essentially prevents new teams in new markets in new facilities from skewing results, while rewarding markets that have retained their current clubs. Markets also earned credit for continuous hosting of each franchise. Additionally, we excused historical one-year gaps in 12 markets that were brought on by weather, league mergers and other circumstances that were beyond the parameters of “community support.”

    Extra credit was given to Rochester, N.Y.; Syracuse, N.Y.; Auburn, N.Y.; and Elizabethton, Tenn., for being home to a team whose ownership is made up entirely of citizen shareholders.

    Attendance rank: This score, which accounted for one-fifth of each market’s grade, is based on the total attendance of all a market’s teams and overall percentage of seats filled over the five-year period. Both measurements were indexed against the market’s total five-year population to create a single score.

    Economic rank: Three economic factors went into our ranking: unemployment, population and each market’s Total Personal Income (TPI). For each, a measure of standard deviation was set, and markets gained or lost credit based on their attendance behavior relative to fluctuations in the economic metrics. For example, if a market’s unemployment rate decreased and TPI increased, attendance was expected to increase. Indexing was not done for the six markets that hosted a single team for one season. June 2013 estimates from both the Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau were the sources.

    In the end, Toledo, Ohio, had the highest point total, and all markets were indexed against that total. Points could be deducted from a market’s total for four reasons: losing a franchise, along with failing to keep attendance in line with fluctuations in area unemployment, population or TPI. Twelve markets finished with a negative score because of indexing against the No. 1 market’s total.

    Additional information about the research, including a listing of the leagues tracked, as well as more information about each market ranked is available at www.sportsbusinessjournal.com.

    Leagues tracked

    Baseball
    AA: American Association (Independent)
    APP: Appalachian League (Rookie)
    AL: Atlantic League (Independent)
    C-A: Can-Am League (Independent)
    CAL: California League (A, Advanced)
    CAR: Carolina League (A, Advanced)
    CBL: Continental Baseball League* (Independent)
    EL: Eastern League (AA)
    FSL: Florida State League (A, Advanced)
    FL: Frontier League (Independent)
    GBL: Golden Baseball League* (Independent)
    IL: International League (AAA)
    MWL: Midwest League (A)
    NYPL: New York-Penn League (A, Short-Season)
    NABL: North American Baseball League* (Independent)
    NAL: North American League* (Independent)
    NL: Northern League* (Independent)
    NWL: Northwest League (A, Short-Season)
    PA: Pacific Association (Independent)
    PCL: Pacific Coast League (AAA)
    PL: Pioneer League (Rookie)
    SAL: South Atlantic League (A)
    SL: Southern League (AA)
    TL: Texas League (AA)
    ULB: United League Baseball* (Independent)

    Basketball
    NBA D-League: NBA Development League

    Indoor football
    AF2: arenafootball2*
    AFL: Arena Football League
    AIF: American Indoor Football Association
    CIFL: Continental Indoor Football League
    CPIFL: Champions Professional Indoor Football League
    IFL: Indoor Football League
    LSFL: Lone Star Football League
    PIFL: Professional Indoor Football League
    SIFL: Southern Indoor Football League*
    UIFL: United Indoor Football League*

    Hockey
    AHL: American Hockey League
    CHL: Central Hockey League
    ECHL
    FHL: Federal Hockey League
    SPHL: Southern Professional Hockey League

    Soccer
    MISL: Major Indoor Soccer League
    NASL: North American Soccer League
    PASL: Professional Arena Soccer League
    USL: United Soccer Leagues First Division*
    USL Pro: United Soccer Leagues top tier
    XSL: Xtreme Soccer League*

    * League ceased operation during the measured period but can be represented in the study by a current team that previously played in the league.

    Print | Tags: Research and Ratings
  • Through it all, Toledo keeps sports passion

    Listen to any championship team or player talk, and you’re bound to hear tales of adversity. Overcoming obstacles, rebounding from difficult circumstances, responding to challenging times — all of that is part of the pathway to No. 1.

    The Class AAA Mud Hens have averaged 87 percent capacity in their 11 full seasons at Fifth Third Field.
    Photo by: COURTESY OF THE TOLEDO MUD HENS
    Such is the case, too, for Toledo, Ohio, which stands atop our 2013 ranking of the nation’s Top Minor League Markets. The sports history of this northern Ohio city includes entrepreneurial team owners, state-of-the-art facilities and one of the most memorable TV product placements in sports history. But to fully understand why Toledo is the No. 1 minor league market in America in 2013, it is important to know what it has lost.

    It’s lost businesses: Over the past 30 years, Fortune 500 auto parts companies Sheller-Globe, Champion and Libbey-Owens-Ford each folded or left town.

    It’s lost jobs: The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services announced last month
    TOLEDO, OHIO

    Teams (first season):
    International League Toledo Mud Hens (1965), ECHL Toledo
    Walleye (2009)

    Venues (year opened): Fifth Third Field (2002), Huntington Center (2009)


    Also in this issue:
    Our exclusive ranking of 229 minor league markets
    Highlights of the top 10
    Markets worth watching outside the top 10
    About the project
    that June’s 8.5 percent unemployment rate in Toledo was higher than it was a year ago, heading in the opposite direction of three-quarters of the country’s other metropolitan areas.

    It’s lost people: The area’s population now totals about 440,000, 10 percent less than it was in the early 1970s.

    And its teams have lost. A lot. Toledo’s baseball teams have won four league championships since 1898, finishing in the bottom half of the league’s standings in seven out of every 10 seasons. In a few weeks, the Class AAA Mud Hens will finish the 2013 campaign with one of the worst records in the International League, just like last year and the year before. On the ice, it has been a generation since Toledo last celebrated a hockey championship, the most recent title coming after the 1993-94 season.

    Yet Toledoans have sustained their passion for the city’s teams through it all.

    “I pinch myself every day,” said Joe Napoli, president and general manager of Toledo Mud Hens Baseball Club Inc., the group that operates both the Mud Hens and ECHL Toledo Walleye. “If you could write a fairy tale that maps it all out, both from a personal and professional perspective, this would be it.”

    Despite the economic challenges of the market, total minor league sports attendance in Toledo has increased 35 percent over the past five years, and fans have filled a combined 79 percent of all available seats. Napoli said the Mud Hens’ season-ticket base is around 3,000, or one-third of the seats at Fifth Third Field. Walleye season-ticket holders make up about one-quarter of the capacity of 8,000-seat Huntington Center.

    Adding to the strength of the marketplace is the fact that the teams’ operating group is a nonprofit entity, and the Board of Lucas County Commissioners is the beneficiary of 100 percent of the net proceeds of the clubs. The county also owns both the Mud Hens’ Fifth Third Field (which opened in 2002) and the Walleye’s Huntington Center (2009) and uses the revenue streams from the facilities exclusively for each venue’s capital repairs and maintenance and to pay off each building’s debt service.

    A staff of 15 people sells season and group tickets for both teams. The combination of group sales and season tickets means that by each club’s respective Opening Day, half the Walleye’s available tickets have been sold and more than 70 percent of Mud Hens seats are sold out for the season.

    The market’s No. 1 ranking validates the ownership group’s significant investment in market research and staff training, Napoli said. The group spends an average of $18,000 to $20,000 a season on research, with deeper dives every three seasons pushing those costs closer to $50,000. The group also has invested $100,000 to $150,000 over the past four years putting every staff and volunteer through FANatical training, a customer-service program created by area company Root Inc., a consulting firm Napoli said teaches companies skills on how to overcome inside-the-office challenges that can transfer to customer service.

    “They have taught us that every employee can treat every potential problem a fan might have as an opportunity to convert that person into a lifetime fan,” he said. “We’ve learned to overwhelm the fan with solutions.”

    The organization hires Ohio-based mystery shopping firm IntelliShop to conduct game-day experience research. Additionally, about 500 seasonal employees are hired between the two teams, but those folks are trained to be ambassadors year-round. Eighty-five percent of ushers and ticket takers come back every year, Napoli said. And to further integrate itself into the fabric of the community, the ownership group has developed internship programs with the University of Toledo, Owens Community College, Bowling Green State University and Lourdes University. Bowling Green alone has supplied about 40 interns each summer for about 20 years.

    GAINING AN IDENTITY

    The baseball history of Toledo dates to 1883 and a team known as the Toledo Blue Stockings, the first of about a dozen clubs that would play in the market over the next several years. As for the unique Mud Hens moniker of the modern-era club, that draws from the ownership years of Charles J. Strobel, an oil magnate and Sandusky, Ohio, native, who bought the team in the late 1800s. Strobel is credited with recognizing the market’s potential to the point that he financed the construction of Armory Park in 1897, one of the first permanent minor league ballparks in the country.

    But because Toledo city laws at that time prohibited most businesses from operating on Sundays, Strobel’s team was forced to play its Sunday games at Bay View Park, outside the Toledo city limits. Newspaper accounts say that marsh birds called the American Coot, commonly known as mud hens, often outnumbered the players and fans at the games. It wasn’t
    Former Mud Hens owner Charles J. Strobel built Armory Park, among the first permanent minor league ballparks.
    Photo by: COURTESY OF THE TOLEDO MUD HENS
    long before fans traveling from the city would say they were going to see the Mud Hens. The name stuck.

    Fast forward almost a century, and the permanence of the nickname was secured.

    In 1978, Gene Cook, a public relations executive from a Toledo-based concrete company, was named general manager of the Mud Hens. Like much of the nation, Cook had been watching the hit CBS series “M*A*S*H” for several years. One of the show’s characters was Cpl. Maxwell Klinger, a fictional Toledo native played by Jamie Farr, who was, in fact, born in the city. And the folks responsible for creating Klinger had real-life Ohio ties: Creator Gene Reynolds was from Cleveland, and writer Larry Gelbart had gotten his show business break years earlier by writing jokes for Toledo native Danny Thomas.

    Cook, immediately after taking on his new role in the spring of 1978, launched a marketing campaign that changed the city’s sports fortunes forever.

    Photo by: COURTESY OF THE TOLEDO MUD HENS
    “Gene Cook sent the writers a box of Mud Hens clothes,” said Farr, now 79 and living in California. “It was brilliant. I mean, if that happened today, the package would go straight in the trash.”

    Instead, “M*A*S*H” writer Ken Levine, who Farr said was a big baseball fan and knew about the Mud Hens, began having Klinger wear the Mud Hens’ apparel sent by Cook. It was a hit on the set and at the team’s switchboard.

    “When they first mentioned the Mud Hens on the show, a lot of people on the set didn’t even believe that it was a real team,” Farr said. “The writers grew up in towns where the Mud Hens played their teams. They figured you must be crazy to name your team the Mud Hens, and Klinger is this bizarre character, so it all made sense!”
    Through “M*A*S*H,” Jamie Farr made the Mud Hens a hit.
    Photo by: COURTESY OF JAMIE FARR

    Team attendance soared 60 percent over the previous season. The appearance of the team’s apparel on one of the most watched series of the decade catapulted the club to Minor League Baseball’s top echelon of merchandise sales, as well. Merchandise orders (and envelopes of foreign currencies) poured in from around the world, launching a lucrative business that still exists for the team. The club, a Detroit Tigers affiliate, has been one of MiLB’s top-selling teams for the past 16 seasons though over the past 20 years the Mud Hens have had only six winning seasons.

    “Nothing is more conducive to unhappiness than taking yourself seriously,” said political satirist, journalist, author and Toledo native P.J. O’Rourke, “and taking yourself seriously is difficult when your baseball team is called the Mud Hens.”

    BUILDING ON SUCCESS

    Although the Mud Hens are clearly the anchor of Toledo’s sports world, hockey has enjoyed a mostly successful history in the market. The year 1947 marked the debut of the 5,230-seat Toledo Sports Arena, at that time state of the art, and the International Hockey League’s Toledo Mercurys. Hockey continued in the city for years, with various teams and leagues calling the arena home. By the 2000s, however, the venue’s intimate setting could not make up for its cramped locker rooms, missing luxury suites and lack of modern amenities. Attendance declined, and when the 2006-07 ECHL season ended, so too did the existence of the Toledo Storm.

    But by that time, Toledo had seen the effect a new facility could have in the market. The Mud Hens’ $39.2 million Fifth Third Field opened in 2002, and though it was built during a recession in Ohio, that didn’t seem to matter. Twenty-five companies had signed 10-year suite leases and paid for two years up front to help provide seed money for the construction. Original blueprints had called for 20 suites, but the final product had 28.

    Napoli said that even as the market’s economics worsened over the past three years, the corporate base has remained solid.

    “We were in the middle of a recession, and the leases at all 28 suites were up for renewal,” he said. “We figured we’d get maybe 25 companies between partial- and full-season leases. Forty companies signed during the recession, including 39 of 40 renewals. We were flabbergasted.”

    (Today, in the 11 full seasons the Mud Hens have played there, the team has averaged 557,000 fans a year, a staggering 87 percent capacity. The financial success of the Mud Hens has exceeded projections, and the county expects to make the final bond payment on the ballpark in 2016, which is five years earlier than originally anticipated. The remaining balance as of May was $5.5 million. Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bancorp has three years left on its $5 million, 15-year naming-rights deal.)

    Toledo regained hockey when the Huntington Center opened and welcomed the Walleye.
    Photo by: COURTESY OF THE TOLEDO MUDHENS
    Drawing on that success of the Mud Hens’ home, Napoli and public officials put plans in motion to build a new arena.

    “Our market research showed us that families were willing to sample hockey, and we were pretty sure that we could put together an overall experience that would get them hooked,” Napoli said. “Now, families with children are our No. 1 demographic for hockey ticket sales.”

    Lucas County financed the $98 million Huntington Center by raising the hotel-motel lodging tax from 8 percent to 10 percent to generate $5 million. The county also issued about $60 million in bonds and notes, and it secured additional public funding through state and local leaders. An additional $2.1 million came from a six-year naming-rights deal with Huntington Bank.

    The Walleye debuted with the arena in 2009, and the team has averaged 223,172 in attendance over its first four seasons, a 25 percent increase over the market’s previous best hockey season, back in 1977-78. The club has yet to see any honeymoon effect wear off, setting a team record for attendance in 2012-13 with 226,743 fans.

    The Walleye also led the ECHL in merchandise sales in 2011-12, said Todd Merton, director of marketing and licensing for the league. Although the full set of ECHL data for 2012-13 had not been fully audited by the league as of July 31, Merton said preliminary team-by-team data from the most recent season shows the Walleye most likely will remain No. 1.

    Last month, the ECHL named Napoli its Executive of the Year.

    LOCAL SUPPORT

    Despite the popularity of the Mud Hens, the Walleye, the stadium and the arena, no one is glossing over Toledo’s shortcomings, nor taking the future for granted. Napoli acknowledges the challenges of marketing in a region with a stagnant population and an uncertain economic direction. But he notes how the fans’ love of their teams mirrors their love of the town.

    He’s not alone.

    “Even when I was growing up there, I thought Toledo was like living in a Norman Rockwell illustration,” said Farr, to whom the Mud Hens have permanently assigned the ‘No. 1’ jersey. “It’s not what it used to be, but it’s still a nice place to be.”

    Print | Tags: Research and Ratings
  • A closer look at the rest of the top 10

    2. Rochester, N.Y.

    Teams (first season): International League Rochester Red Wings (1895), AHL Rochester Americans (1956), USL Pro Rochester Rhinos (1996), MISL Rochester Lancers (2011)

    Venues (year opened): Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial (1955), Frontier Field (1996), Sahlen’s Stadium (2006)

    Rochester continues to be a stalwart among minor league markets after missing out on the top 10 in 2011 for the first time in the survey’s history. Big gains at the gate for the AHL Americans helped the market rise up: The club drew nearly 1 million fans over the past five seasons, and the 2012-13 average attendance at Blue Cross Arena was up 63 percent from a record low mark for the 2010-11 season. It is probably no coincidence that the increase at the gate has come under Terry Pegula’s ownership. The Buffalo Sabres owner took control of the club in May 2011, and he proceeded to spend an estimated $5 million while aligning the Amerks’ operation with that of its new parent club. The team had been affiliated with the Florida Panthers since 2008.

    The International League Red Wings, on the other hand, drew an average of 6,094 fans a game in 2012, the club’s lowest mark since the 2002 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.

    3. Hershey-Harrisburg, Pa.

    Teams (first season): AHL Hershey Bears (1932), Eastern League Harrisburg Senators (1987), USL Pro Harrisburg City Islanders (2004), AIF Harrisburg Stampede (2009), PASL Harrisburg Heat (2012)

    Venues (year opened): Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center (1966; renovated 2001), Metro Bank Park (1987; renovated 2010), Skyline Sports Complex (1987; renovated 2008), Giant Center (2002)

    In the No. 1 market in our survey in 2009 and 2011, the sports scene continues to thrive. The market’s attendance-to-population ratio is the highest of any multiple-team market in our study, with fans outnumbering residents more than 2.5-to-1 (attendance of 3.21 million vs. population of 1.23 million). The AHL Bears, founded more than 80 years ago, are the oldest minor league hockey franchise in the country. The team averaged a franchise-record 10,046 fans a game last season, extending what is now a nine-year streak of year-over-year attendance growth.

    The market was further buoyed in November by the return of the PASL Heat, an indoor soccer team that during its 1991-2003 existence regularly averaged more than 5,000 fans a game. The new team enjoyed similar success in its inaugural season, filling 70 percent of the seats at Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center.

    Fifteen miles to the west, though, in the state capital of Harrisburg, the Senators have seen their attendance drop slightly in each of the last two seasons, although last year’s average was still 74 percent higher than it was in 2008, prior to Metro Bank Park’s two-year, $45 million upgrade. Additionally, the AIF Stampede and USL Pro Islanders have filled just one-third of their seats at their respective venues, pulling the market’s score down slightly.

    4. San Bernardino County, Calif.

    Teams (first season): California League Inland Empire 66ers (1987), California League High Desert Mavericks (1991), California League Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (1993), ECHL Ontario Reign (2008)

    Venues (year opened): Mavericks Field at Stater Bros. Stadium (1991), LoanMart Field (1993), San Manuel Stadium (1996), Citizens Business Bank Arena (2008)

    San Bernardino County is the country’s largest county by geographic size, and it squeezes in three California League baseball teams and one of the best-drawing clubs in the ECHL. The Inland Empire 66ers have led the way at the gate among those three baseball teams the past three seasons, averaging 2,493 fans a game in 2012.

    The Ontario Reign topped all ECHL clubs at the gate from the 2009-10 season through 2011-12. Despite a 20 percent increase in attendance at Citizens Business Bank Arena last season, the team ranked second leaguewide with its 7,575 average (trailing Fort Wayne’s 7,583 average).

    The market retains its top-10 status because its attendance total still outnumbers its population, and those fans are still filling the seats despite a 3 1/2 year stretch with a double-digit unemployment rate. A bankruptcy court judge earlier this summer confirmed a late August hearing to determine whether the city of San Bernardino is eligible for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, a request it filed for last summer.

    5. Springfield, Mass.

    Teams (first season): AHL Springfield Falcons (1954), NBA D-League Springfield Armor (2009)

    Venue (year opened): MassMutual Center (1972; renovated 2005)

    Springfield earns its No. 5 ranking because few minor league sports markets have been as defiant against tough economic times. According to the most recent numbers available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Springfield’s unemployment rate rose to 8 percent again in May after having dropped to 7.3 percent last November. That follows annual rates of 8.2 percent in 2012, 9.2 percent in 2011, 10 percent in 2010 and 9.4 percent in 2009. Nevertheless, the total combined attendance at AHL Falcons and NBA D-League Armor games was up 42 percent last season compared with five years ago, the biggest such jump in our study.

    The market also has invested in its sports future. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame — based in the city since 1968 — relocated within Springfield to a new $47 million facility in 2002, and the MassMutual Center, which houses both of the market’s teams, benefited from a publicly funded $71 million upgrade completed in 2005.
    Additionally, the AHL has been based in the city since 1968, and its offices are one block from the arena.

    6. Syracuse, N.Y.

    Teams (first season): International League Syracuse Chiefs (1961), AHL Syracuse Crunch (1994), MISL Syracuse Silver Knights (2011)

    Venues (year opened): NBT Bank Stadium (1997), War Memorial at Oncenter (1951; renovated in 1994)

    Much like No. 2-ranked Rochester, N.Y., 90 minutes to the west, Syracuse boasts long-standing and well-respected International League and AHL teams. The IL Chiefs’ relationship with Syracuse dates more than 50 years. The team now plays in the $28 million NBT Bank Stadium, opened in 1997, which also was when John Simone assumed operation of the club from his father, Tex, who had run the team since 1970.

    ESPN’s Mike Tirico spent many years in Syracuse, first as a student and then as an employee at the city’s CBS affiliate, WTVH, and has seen the impact of the Simone family on the Chiefs. “I can recall many days when Tex or John Simone would personally be working around the ballpark to have it ready for the next crowd to arrive,” Tirico said via email. “That father-son executive team has made five decades of family-run, community-owned AAA baseball one of Syracuse’s great sports legacies.”

    The club is enjoying its 53rd year of community ownership this season. That tenure helps offset in the ranking the fact that the club has seen attendance decline in recent years, with last season’s average of 5,288 fans a game marking the team’s lowest figure since 2004.

    Meanwhile, attendance for the AHL Crunch rose this past season for the third straight time. The 2012-13 season average of 5,399 fans a game was the club’s best since the 2007-08 campaign.

    7. Fort Wayne, Ind.

    Teams (first season): Midwest League Fort Wayne TinCaps (1993), ECHL Fort Wayne Komets (1952), NBA D-League Fort Wayne Mad Ants (2007)

    Venues (year opened): Allen County War Memorial Coliseum (1952; renovated 2002), Parkview Field (2009)

    Baseball and hockey have long been institutions in this city, also known for being the final resting place of Johnny Appleseed. It was local pride in the folklore legend that spurred the 2009 rebranding of the Midwest League baseball team, now named for his peculiar headgear. The team also opened $34 million Parkview Field the same year as part of a downtown revitalization project. TinCaps average attendance has been around 5,600 fans a game since then after drawing 3,702 fans a game in their last season at their prior home, Memorial Stadium.

    As for the ECHL Komets, they have played hockey in the city since 1952. Local fans especially showed their love for the team this past season, which was the first for the club in the ECHL after moving from the CHL. The team drew 7,583 fans a game at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, an average that was tops among all ECHL clubs.

    Despite a population growth rate of only 2.8 percent over the past five years, the market’s overall attendance count for its teams increased 13.8 percent.

    The only true negative for Fort Wayne, the No. 1 market in our survey in 2007, has been its inability to support an indoor football team. The CIFL Fort Wayne Firehawks folded after the 2010 season. It was the sport’s fourth attempt to break into the market.

    8. Des Moines, Iowa

    Teams (first season): Pacific Coast League Iowa Cubs (1969), NBA D-League Iowa Energy (2007), AFL Iowa Barnstormers (2008)

    Venues (year opened): Principal Park (1992; renovated 2005, 2006 and 2013), Wells Fargo Arena (2005)

    Des Moines made the leap to No. 8 this year from its No. 31 ranking in 2011 largely because of the success of the NBA D-League Energy. The team set a regular-season franchise attendance record in 2012-13, averaging 4,452 fans a game. That figure put the Energy over the 100,000 fan mark in total attendance for the second consecutive regular season.

    Meanwhile, the AAA Cubs show many of the signs of being middle-aged: The team is only a few years away from its 50th year, its house is nearing the quarter-century mark, and by dipping into the home improvement fund, it’s time to do some repairs. City-owned Principal Park received a $6.8 million upgrade during the 2005 and 2006 offseasons, and an additional $1.1 million in improvements before this season; $3 million more has been approved for additional improvements over the next few years.

    At the gate, the Cubs through late July were on pace to draw more than half a million fans for the ninth time in the last 10 seasons. Add in the AFL Barnstormers, one of the top-drawing football teams in our study, and the area’s attendance-to-population ratio of 1.6-to-1 is one of the highest of any multiple-team market. The city this fall will add the AHL Iowa Wild to its landscape, as well.

    Bob Harlan, former chairman and CEO of the Green Bay Packers and a Des Moines native, grew up watching the Western League Des Moines Bruins, an MLB Cubs affiliate that was a predecessor to today’s AAA Cubs. “My folks had Bruins season tickets,” he said. “My father ran a trucking company and traveled a great deal, so my mother and I spent many, many nights at the ballpark.”

    9. Spokane, Wash.

    Teams (first season): Northwest League Spokane Indians (1946), AFL Spokane Shock (2006)

    Venues (year opened): Avista Stadium (1958; renovated 2008 and 2013), Spokane Arena (1995; renovated 2013)

    Sports fans in Spokane continue to pack the stands, helping to keep the market in our survey’s top 10 for the third straight time. Leading the way is the seven-year-old AFL Shock, which filled 96 percent of the club’s seats over the past five seasons, the highest such rate among indoor football teams. In fact, just seven other minor league teams among all sports researched had a higher percentage of occupied seats. And with the 2013 Northwest League season more than two-thirds over as of press time, the Class A Indians are on pace to lead that league in attendance for the 15th straight season.

    Spokane’s unemployment rate was still near 10 percent during the first quarter of 2013, although its changes in population and total income over the past five years were similar to that of the country overall.

    10. Sioux Falls, S.D.

    Teams (first season): American Association Sioux Falls Canaries (1993), NBA D-League Sioux Falls Skyforce (1989), IFL Sioux Falls Storm (2000)

    Venues (year opened): Sioux Falls Arena (1989), Sioux Falls Stadium (1993), Pentagon by Sanford Health (2013)

    Sioux Falls easily has the lowest population and amount of total wealth of any of our top 10 markets, as well as the lowest unemployment rate. But the region’s attendance at its teams’ games has gone up 5 percent over the past five years, matching the population growth. All three local clubs enjoyed record or near-record attendance in their most recently completed seasons.

    The largest market in South Dakota, Sioux Falls has supported minor league basketball for nearly 25 years, and that support is now being reflected with a new arena. The Skyforce began play during the 1989-90 season as part of the former Continental Basketball Association, eventually making the switch to the NBA D-League in 2006-07. The club averaged 3,427 fans a game last season, its best mark since 2008-09. The team additionally signed an exclusive affiliation with the NBA’s Miami Heat and will move into the new $19 million Pentagon by Sanford Health venue this fall.

    The area’s other indoor franchise, the IFL Storm, has won 34 straight home games and won its third IFL championship earlier this summer. It drew a record 44,000 fans this past season.

    As for the American Association Canaries, one of the oldest teams in the independent league, the club has played at Sioux Falls Stadium since 1993. The team last season averaged 2,664 fans a game, up 54 percent from its average across the previous two seasons.

    — Compiled by David Broughton and Austin Karp

    Print | Tags: Research and Ratings
  • 2013 Minor League Markets: The rankings

    Rank Market Score Current team(s) Team(s) lost New/renovated venue(s)
    1 Toledo, Ohio 100.00 IL Toledo Mud Hens, ECHL Toledo Walleye   1
    2 Rochester, N.Y. 97.98 IL Rochester Red Wings, AHL Rochester Americans, MISL Rochester Lancers, USL Pro Rochester Rhinos IFL Rochester Raiders  
    3 Hershey-Harrisburg, Pa. 91.29 EL Harrisburg Senators, AHL Hershey Bears, AIF Harrisburg Stampede, PASL Harrisburg Heat, USL Pro Harrisburg City Islanders   1
    4 San Bernardino County, Calif. 77.38 CAL Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, CAL Inland Empire 66ers, CAL High Desert Mavericks, ECHL Ontario Reign   1
    5 Springfield, Mass. 75.15 AHL Springfield Falcons, NBA D-League Springfield Armor    
    6 Syracuse, N.Y. 74.22 IL Syracuse Chiefs, AHL Syracuse Crunch, MISL Syracuse Silver Knights    
    7 Fort Wayne, Ind. 70.22 MWL Fort Wayne TinCaps, ECHL Fort Wayne Komets, NBA D-League Fort Wayne Mad Ants CIFL Fort Wayne Firehawks 1
    8 Des Moines, Iowa 68.86 PCL Iowa Cubs, NBA D-League Iowa Energy, AFL Iowa Barnstormers   1
    9 Spokane, Wash. 66.42 NWL Spokane Indians, AFL Spokane Shock   2
    10 Sioux Falls, S.D. 66.04 AA Sioux Falls Canaries, NBA D-League Sioux Falls Skyforce, IFL Sioux Falls Storm   1
    11 Charleston, S.C. 64.32 SAL Charleston River Dogs, ECHL South Carolina Stingrays, USL Pro Charleston Battery   1
    12 Providence-Pawtucket, R.I. 63.97 IL Pawtucket Red Sox, AHL Providence Bruins   1
    13 Portland, Maine 62.87 EL Portland Sea Dogs, AHL Portland Pirates, NBA D-League Maine Red Claws    
    14 Modesto, Calif. 62.15 CAL Modesto Nuts, PASL Turlock Express    
    15 Appleton, Wis. 61.83 MWL Wisconsin Timber Rattlers    
    16 Knoxville-Kodak, Tenn. 61.32 SL Tennessee Smokies, SPHL Knoxville IceBears, PIFL Knoxville NightHawks    
    17 Erie, Pa. 60.61 EL Erie SeaWolves, NBA D-League Erie BayHawks, CIFL Erie Explosion   1
    18 Clinton, Iowa 60.09 MWL Clinton Lumber Kings    
    19 Idaho Falls, Idaho 60.07 PL Idaho Falls Chukars    
    20 Tacoma, Wash. 59.20 PCL Tacoma Rainiers, PASL Tacoma Stars   1
    21 Cedar Rapids, Iowa 58.14 MWL Cedar Rapids Kernels, IFL Cedar Rapids Titans   1
    22 Winston-Salem, N.C. 58.02 CAR Winston-Salem Dash   1
    23 Binghamton, N.Y. 57.79 EL Binghamton Mets, AHL Binghamton Senators    
    24 Asheville, N.C. 57.11 SAL Asheville Tourists 1
    25 Bakersfield, Calif. 57.08 ECHL Bakersfield Condors, CAL Bakersfield Blaze, NBA D-League Bakersfield Jam    
    26 Auburn, N.Y. 56.61 NYPL Auburn Doubledays  
    27 Roanoke-Salem, Va. 55.61 CAR Salem Red Sox    
    28 Lynchburg, Va. 54.91 CAR Lynchburg Hillcats    
    29 Lakeland, Fla. 54.68 FSL Lakeland Flying Tigers, UIFL Lakeland Raiders    
    30 Midland, Texas 54.38 TL Midland RockHounds    
    31 Clearwater-Dunedin, Fla. 54.34 FSL Clearwater Threshers, FSL Dunedin Blue Jays    
    32 Dayton, Ohio 53.73 MWL Dayton Dragons, FHL Dayton Demonz, USL Pro Dayton Dutch Lions, CIFL Dayton Sharks   1
    33 Visalia, Calif. 53.66 CAL Visalia Rawhide   1
    34 Reading, Pa. 53.29 EL Reading Fightin Phils, ECHL Reading Royals IFL Reading Express  
    35 Johnson City, Tenn. 53.02 APP Johnson City Cardinals    
    36 Grand Rapids-Comstock, Mich. 52.60 MWL West Michigan Whitecaps, AHL Grand Rapids Griffins    
    37 Durham, N.C. 52.39 IL Durham Bulls, NASL Carolina RailHawks    
    38 Hartford-New Britain, Conn. 52.16 EL New Britain Rock Cats, AHL Hartford Wolf Pack    
    39 Batavia, N.Y. 51.85 NYPL Batavia Muckdogs    
    40 Richmond, Va. 51.28 EL Richmond Flying Squirrels, USL Pro Richmond Kickers, PIFL Richmond Raiders SPHL Richmond Renegades, IFL Richmond Revolution  
    41 Bluefield-Princeton, W.Va. 50.85 APP Bluefield Blue Jays, APP Princeton Rays    
    42 Pearl, Miss. 50.75 SL Mississippi Braves    
    43 Huntsville, Ala. 50.31 SL Huntsville Stars, SPHL Huntsville Havoc, PIFL Alabama Hammers    
    44 Las Vegas 50.23 PCL Las Vegas 51s, ECHL Las Vegas Wranglers, PASL Las Vegas Legends   1
    45 Savannah, Ga. 49.03 SAL Savannah Sand Gnats    
    46 Elizabethton, Tenn. 48.86 APP Elizabethton Twins 1
    47 Casper, Wyo. 48.64 PL Grand Junction Rockies, IFL Wyoming Cavalry    
    48 Davenport, Iowa-Moline, Ill. 48.59 MWL Quad City River Bandits, CHL Quad City Mallards AF2 Quad City Steamwheelers  
    49 Burlington, Iowa 48.40 MWL Burlington Bees    
    50 Bridgeport-Danbury, Conn. 48.31 AL Bridgeport Bluefish, AHL Bridgeport Sound Tigers, FHL Danbury Whalers   1
    Rank Market Score Current team(s) Team(s) lost New/renovated venue(s)
    51 Pensacola, Fla. 48.03 SL Pensacola Blue Wahoos, SPHL Pensacola Ice Flyers    
    52 Salisbury, Md. 47.95 SAL Delmarva Shorebirds    
    53 Tucson, Ariz. 47.80 PCL Tucson Padres    
    54 Wichita, Kan. 47.52 AA Wichita Wingnuts, CHL Wichita Thunder, CPIFL Wichita Wild MISL Wichita Wings 3
    55 Peoria, Ill. 47.45 MWL Peoria Chiefs, SPHL Peoria Rivermen AF2 Peoria Pirates  
    56t Chattanooga, Tenn. 47.32 SL Chattanooga Lookouts    
    56t Eugene, Ore. 47.32 NWL Eugene Emeralds   1
    58 Great Falls, Mont. 47.22 PL Great Falls Voyagers   1
    59 Marion, Ill. 46.74 FL Southern Illinois Miners    
    60 Bristol, Va. 46.47 APP Bristol White Sox    
    61 Midland, Mich. 45.40 MWL Great Lakes Loons    
    62 Greensboro, N.C. 45.12 SAL Greensboro Grasshoppers    
    63 Jamestown, N.Y. 44.96 NYPL Jamestown Jammers    
    64 Bloomington-Normal, Ill. 44.80 FL Normal CornBelters, SPHL Bloomington Blaze, IFL Bloomington Edge   1
    65 Lehigh Valley, Pa. 44.73 IL Lehigh Valley IronPigs, PIFL Lehigh Valley Steelhawks   1
    66 Altoona, Pa. 44.64 EL Altoona Curve  
    67 Kingsport, Tenn. 44.35 APP Kingsport Mets    
    68 Rapid City, S.D. 43.77 CHL Rapid City Rush    
    69 Greenville, S.C. 43.69 SAL Greenville Drive, ECHL Greenville Road Warriors AIF South Carolina Force  
    70 West Valley City, Utah 43.31 ECHL Utah Grizzlies    
    71 Bowling Green, Ky. 43.29 MWL Bowling Green Hot Rods   1
    72 Omaha, Neb. 42.86 PCL Omaha Storm Chasers, CPIFL Omaha Beef MISL Omaha Vipers 2
    73 Tri-Cities Wash. 42.68 NWL Tri-City Dust Devils, IFL Tri-Cities Fever    
    74 Hagerstown, Md. 42.64 SAL Hagerstown Suns    
    75 South Bend, Ind. 42.07 MWL South Bend Silver Hawks   1
    76 Norfolk, Va. 41.75 IL Norfolk Tides, AHL Norfolk Admirals MISL Norfolk Sharx  
    77 Charleston, W.Va. 41.65 SAL West Virginia Power    
    78 Glens Falls, N.Y. 41.40 AHL Adirondack Phantoms    
    79 Rome, Ga. 41.32 SAL Rome Braves  
    80 Fargo, N.D. 41.18 AA Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks    
    81 Wappingers Falls, N.Y. 41.12 NYPL Hudson Valley Renegades    
    82 Woodbridge, Va. 41.05 CAR Potomac Nationals    
    83 Colorado Springs, Colo. 40.65 PCL Colorado Springs Sky Sox    
    84 Burlington, N.C. 40.52 APP Burlington Royals    
    85 Lansing, Mich. 40.41 MWL Lansing Lugnuts    
    86 Independence, Mo. 40.22 CHL Missouri Mavericks, MISL Missouri Comets   1
    87 Beloit, Wis. 39.68 MWL Beloit Snappers    
    88 Birmingham, Ala. 39.67 SL Birmingham Barons   1
    89 Loveland, Colo. 39.64 ECHL Colorado Eagles, IFL Colorado Ice    
    90 Traverse City, Mich. 39.03 FL Traverse City Beach Bums    
    91 Lincoln, Neb. 38.79 AA Lincoln Saltdogs, CPIFL Lincoln Haymakers   1
    92 Troy, N.Y. 38.75 NYPL Tri-City ValleyCats    
    93 Frederick, Md. 38.70 CAR Frederick Keys    
    94 Jackson, Tenn. 38.60 SL Jackson Generals    
    95 Burlington, Vt. 38.56 NYPL Vermont Lake Monsters   1
    96 Bridgewater, N.J. 38.55 AL Somerset Patriots    
    97 York, Pa. 38.21 AL York Revolution, AIF York Capitals    
    98 Aberdeen, Md. 38.20 NYPL Aberdeen IronBirds    
    99 Elmira, N.Y. 37.92 ECHL Elmira Jackals    
    100 Myrtle Beach, S.C. 37.74 CAR Myrtle Beach Pelicans    
    Rank Market Score Current team(s) Team(s) lost New/renovated venue(s)
    101 Missoula, Mont. 37.53 PL Missoula Osprey    
    102 Wilmington, Del. 37.41 CAR Wilmington Blue Rocks    
    103 Port St. Lucie, Fla. 37.36 FSL St. Lucie Mets    
    104 Palm Beach County, Fla. 37.33 FSL Jupiter Hammerheads, FSL Palm Beach Cardinals    
    105 Daytona Beach, Fla. 37.23 FSL Daytona Cubs   1
    106 Allen, Texas 37.14 CHL Allen Americans, IFL Texas Revolution, PASL Dallas Sidekicks   1
    107 Albany, N.Y. 37.12 AHL Albany Devils    
    108t Fayetteville, N.C. 37.00 SPHL Fayetteville FireAntz, AIF Cape Fear Heroes    
    108t Willamsport, Pa. 37.00 NYPL Williamsport Crosscutters    
    110 Lakewood, N.J. 36.64 SAL Lakewood BlueClaws    
    111 Metairie, La. 36.50 PCL New Orleans Zephyrs    
    112 Geneva, Ill. 36.40 MWL Kane County Cougars   1
    113 Hickory, N.C. 36.11 SAL Hickory Crawdads    
    114 Melbourne, Fla. 35.82 FSL Brevard County Manatees    
    115 Southaven, Miss. 35.48 SPHL Mississippi RiverKings    
    116 Boise, Idaho 35.20 ECHL Idaho Steelheads, NWL Boise Hawks, NBA D-League Idaho Stampede AF2 Boise Burn  
    117 Montgomery, Ala. 35.12 SL Montgomery Biscuits    
    118 Springfield, Mo. 35.05 TL Springfield Cardinals    
    119 Springdale, Ark. 35.02 TL Northwest Arkansas Naturals   1
    120 Wilmington, N.C. 34.91 USL Pro Wilmington Hammerheads    
    121 Lancaster, Pa. 34.87 AL Lancaster Barnstormers    
    122 Florence, Ky. 34.74 FL Florence Freedom    
    123 Gwinnett-Duluth, Ga. 34.67 IL Gwinnett Braves, ECHL Gwinnett Gladiators AFL Georgia Force 1
    124 Keizer, Ore. 34.67 NWL Salem-Keizer Volcanoes    
    125 Pulaski, Va. 34.52 APP Pulaski Mariners    
    126 Sauget, Ill. 34.45 FL Gateway Grizzlies    
    127 Eastlake, Ohio 34.28 MWL Lake County Captains    
    128 Staten Island, N.Y. 34.17 NYPL Staten Island Yankees    
    129 Billings, Mont. 34.14 PL Billings Mustangs IFL Billings Outlaws 1
    130 Lancaster, Calif. 34.13 CAL Lancaster JetHawks    
    131 Danville, Va. 33.97 APP Danville Braves    
    132 Lake Elsinore, Calif. 33.94 CAL Lake Elsinore Storm    
    133 State College, Pa. 33.82 NYPL State College Spikes    
    134 Helena, Mont. 33.64 PL Helena Brewers   1
    135 Camden, N.J. 33.55 AL Camden Riversharks    
    136 Reno, Nev. 33.50 PCL Reno Aces, NBA D-League Reno Bighorns   1
    137 Washington, Pa. 33.41 FL Washington Wild Things    
    138 Evansville, Ind. 33.40 FL Evansville Otters, ECHL Evansville IceMen CIFL Evansville Rage 1
    139 West Sacramento, Calif. 33.34 PCL Sacramento River Cats    
    140 Greeneville, Tenn. 32.99 APP Greeneville Astros    
    141 Akron, Ohio 32.70 EL Akron Aeros    
    142t Little Falls, N.J. 32.40 C-A New Jersey Jackals    
    142t Waldorf, Md. 32.40 AL Southern Maryland Blue Crabs    
    144 Kalamazoo, Mich. 32.34 ECHL Kalamazoo Wings FL Kalamazoo Kings  
    145 Gary, Ind. 32.14 AA Gary SouthShore RailCats    
    146 Crestwood, Ill. 31.17 FL Windy City Thunderbolts    
    147 North Little Rock, Ark. 31.00 TL Arkansas Travelers AF2 Arkansas Diamonds  
    148 El Paso, Texas 30.52 AA El Paso Diablos IFL El Paso Generals  
    149 Joliet, Ill. 30.20 FL Joliet Slammers    
    150t Pomona, N.Y. 29.81 C-A Rockland Boulders   1
    Rank Market Score Current team(s) Team(s) lost New/renovated venue(s)
    150t Lake Charles, La. 29.81 PIFL Louisiana Swashbucklers    
    152 Austin-Round Rock, Texas 29.72 AHL Texas Stars, NBA D-League Austin Toros, PCL Round Rock Express IFL Austin Turfcats 1
    153 Fort Myers-Estero, Fla. 29.65 FSL Fort Myers Miracle , ECHL Florida Everblades, UIFL Florida Tarpons AF2 Florida Firecats  
    154 Trenton, N.J. 29.63 EL Trenton Thunder, ECHL Trenton Devils SIFL Trenton Steel  
    155 Avon, Ohio 29.26 FL Lake Erie Crushers   1
    156 Amarillo, Texas 29.15 AA Amarillo Sox, LSFL Amarillo Venom CHL Amarillo Gorillas  
    157 Louisville, Ky. 28.29 IL Louisville Bats, CIFL Kentucky Xtreme
    PASL Louisville Lightning
    1
    158 Danville, Ill. 27.74 FHL Danville Dashers    
    159 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pa. 27.60 IL Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins AF2 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers 1
    160 Augusta, Ga. 26.65 SAL Augusta Greenjackets SPHL Augusta RiverHawks  
    161 Watertown, N.Y. 26.54 FHL 1000 Islands Privateers    
    162 Saginaw, Mich. 26.41 CIFL Saginaw    
    163 Grand Island, Neb. 26.22 IFL Nebraska Danger    
    164 Biloxi, Miss. 25.01 SPHL Mississippi Surge    
    165t Bradenton, Fla 24.74 FSL Bradenton Marauders    
    165t Norwich-West Haven, Conn. 24.74 NYPL Connecticut Defenders    
    167 Schaumburg, Ill. 24.10 FL Schaumburg Boomers    
    168 Glen Carbon, Ill. 22.96 PASL Illinois Piasa    
    169 Everett, Wash. 21.77 NWL Everett AquaSox IFL Everett Raptors  
    170 Columbus, Ga. 21.41 SPHL Columbus Cottonmouths, PIFL Columbus Lions SAL Columbus Catfish  
    171 Wailuku, Maui, Hawaii 20.42 NABL Na Koa Ikaika Maui    
    172 Worcester, Mass. 20.37 AHL Worcester Sharks C-A Worcester Tornadoes 1
    173 Ogden, Utah 19.62 PL Ogden Raptors AIF Ogden Knights  
    174 Sioux City, Iowa 19.52 AA Sioux City Explorers CPIFL Sioux City Bandits  
    175 San Angelo, Texas 18.51 NAL San Angelo Colts LSFL San Angelo Bandits  
    176 Laredo, Texas 18.27 AA Laredo Lemurs, LSFL Laredo Rattlesnakes CHL Laredo Bucks 1
    177 Bowie-College Park, Md. 18.17 EL Bowie Baysox, AIF Washington Eagles IFL Maryland Maniacs  
    178 Yakima, Wash. 18.11   NWL Yakima Bears  
    179 Anchorage, Alaska 18.04 ECHL Alaska Aces IFL Alaska Wild  
    180 Lexington, Ky. 17.56 SAL Lexington Legends AF2 Kentucky Horsemen  
    181 Concord-Kannapolis, N.C. 17.42 SAL Kannapolis Intimidators SIFL Carolina Speed  
    182 Pikeville, Ky. 16.48 CIFL Eastern Kentucky Drillers    
    183 Mobile, Ala. 15.88 SL Mobile Bay Bears SIFL Mobile Bay Tarpons  
    184 O'Fallon- St. Charles, Mo. 15.53 FL River City Rascals, UIFL Missouri Monster IFL River City Rage  
    185t Lowell, Mass. 15.06 NYPL Lowell Spinners AHL Lowell Devils  
    185t Stockton, Calif. 15.06 CAL Stockton Ports, ECHL Stockton Thunder AF2 California Eagles, PASL California Cougars  
    187 Wheeling, W.Va. 14.88 ECHL Wheeling Nailers CIFL Wheeling Wildcats  
    188 Bismarck, N.D. 14.56   NBA D-League Dakota Wizards  
    189 Chillicothe, Ohio 13.54 FL Chillicothe Paints
    190 Hidalgo, Texas 13.26 NAL Edinburg Roadrunners, NAL Rio Grande Valley Whitewings, NBA D-League Rio Grande Valley Vipers CHL Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees, LSFL McAllen Toros, PASL Rio Grande Valley Flash  
    191 Prescott Valley, Ariz. 13.09 CHL Arizona Sundogs IFL Arizona Adrenaline  
    192 Youngstown-Niles, Ohio 12.53 NYPL Mahoning Valley Scrappers AF2 Mahoning Valley Thunder  
    193 Yuma, Ariz. 11.85   NABL Yuma Scorpions  
    194 Kinston, N.C. 11.67   CAR Kinston Indians  
    195 Corpus Christi, Texas 11.54 TL Corpus Christi Hooks, NAL McAllen Thunder, UIFL Corpus Christi Fury CHL Corpus Christi Rayz, AF2 Corpus Christi Sharks  
    196 Chico, Calif. 10.69   NABL Chico Outlaws  
    197 Brockton, Mass. 9.24   C-A Brockton Rox  
    198 Alexandria, La. 8.80   CBL Alexandria Aces  
    199 Sarasota, Fla. 8.43 UIFL Sarasota Thunder FSL Sarasota Reds 1
    200 Lafayette, La. 8.29 SPHL Louisiana IceGators SIFL Lafayette Wildcatters  
    Rank Market Score Current team(s) Team(s) lost New/renovated venue(s)
    201t Abilene, Texas 7.74 LSFL Abilene Bombers NAL Abilene Prairie Dogs  
    201t St. George, Utah 7.74   GBL St. George Roadrunners  
    203 Canton, Ohio 7.63 NBA D-League Canton Charge UIFL Canton Cougars  
    204 Augusta, N.J. 7.19   C-A Sussex Skyhawks  
    205 Rockford, Ill. 6.70 FL Rockford Aviators, AHL Rockford IceHogs CIFL Rock River Raptors, PASL Rockford Rampage  
    206 Pittsfield, Mass. 5.54   C-A Pittsfield Colonials  
    207 Oneonta, N.Y. 5.22 NYPL Oneonta Tigers
    208 Long Beach, Calif. 4.55   GBL Long Beach Armada  
    209 Kent, Wash. 4.54   IFL Kent Predators 1
    210 Fairbanks, Alaska 4.52   IFL Fairbanks Grizzlies 2008-2011  
    211 Florence, S.C. 3.94   AIF Florence Phantoms  
    212 Albuquerque, N.M. 3.67 PCL Albuquerque Isotopes, LSFL New Mexico Stars NBA D-League New Mexico Thunderbirds, CHL New Mexico Scorpions  
    213 Port Charlotte, Fla. 3.48 FSL Charlotte Stone Crabs 1
    214 Manchester-Nashua, N.H. 3.32 EL New Hampshire Fisher Cats, AHL Manchester Monarchs C-A American Defenders of New Hampshire, AF2 Manchester Wolves  
    215 Marion, Ohio 2.37   CIFL Marion Blue Racers  
    216 Flint, Mich. 2.17   CHL Flint Generals  
    217 Houma, La. 2.06   SIFL Houma Bayou Bucks  
    218 Albany, Ga. -0.99 PIFL Albany Panthers    
    219 Orem, Utah -1.76 PL Orem Owlz NBA D-League Utah Flash, AIF Utah Valley Thunder  
    220 Madison, Wis. -2.00   CIFL Wisconsin Wolfpack  
    221 Zion, Ill. -2.65   NABL Lake County Fielders  
    222 Fresno, Calif. -2.97 PCL Fresno Grizzlies ECHL Fresno Falcons, AF2 Central Valley Coyotes  
    223 Broomfield, Colo. -4.75   CHL Rocky Mountain Rage, NBA D-League Colorado  
    224 Odessa, Texas -8.58   CHL Odessa Jackalopes, LSFL West Texas Roughnecks  
    225 Hoffman Estates, Ill. -10.56 CPIFL Chicago Slaughter, PASL Chicago Mustangs ECHL Chicago Express, XSL Chicago Storm  
    226 Muskegon, Mich. -13.09   CHL Muskegon Lumberjacks, IFL Muskegon Thunder  
    227 Port Huron, Mich. -18.37   CHL Port Huron Icehawks, CIFL Port Huron Patriots  
    228 Shreveport-Bossier City, La. -30.78   AA Shreveport Captains, CHL Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs, AFL Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings  
    229 Johnstown, Pa. -35.77   ECHL Johnstown Chiefs, UIFL Johnston Generals  

    Print | Tags: Research and Ratings
Video Powered By - Castfire CMS Powered By - Sitecore

Report a Bug