Sports Team of the Year
Atlanta United FC
Atlanta United found instant success in its MLS debut season, as owner Arthur Blank’s heavy investment in the team paid dividends both on and off the field. The team set MLS attendance records — including drawing more than 70,000 fans multiple times — as Atlanta quickly silenced any doubts that it could be a soccer city.
Golden State Warriors
The defending NBA champion Warriors are a powerhouse off the court, ranking at or near the top of the league in multiple sales categories. That includes signing the league’s most valuable jersey patch deal — a $60 million sponsorship with Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten.
The Astros last year won their first World Series championship, completing a large-scale rebuilding effort that is now being replicated throughout baseball. The club also provided much-needed relief to disaster-stricken Houston and Puerto Rico.
The Predators’ run to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final put a spotlight on the city’s transformation into a hockey town. Drawing tens of thousands of people to the streets for their playoff games, the team translated that momentum into record attendance, revenue and TV ratings this season, and its first season-ticket holder waiting list.
The Raptors are one of the league’s most sophisticated marketers as evidenced by team parent MLSE’s record-breaking, $800 million arena naming-rights deal with Scotiabank. The team also won the NBA Partnership of the Year Award for its content-based campaign with GoDaddy.
Vegas Golden Knights
Las Vegas’ first major professional sports franchise, the Golden Knights took the city and the NHL by storm in its expansion season. Setting numerous NHL records for an expansion team while playing in front of raucous sold-out crowds every night, in a city filled with must-see attractions, the Golden Knights may be on top of the list.