No. 6: Fort Wayne, Ind.
Fort Wayne, Ind.
TEAMS (FIRST SEASON): ECHL Fort Wayne Komets (1952); Midwest League Fort Wayne TinCaps (1993); NBA G League Fort Wayne Mad Ants (2007)
VENUES (YEAR OPENED): Allen County War Memorial Coliseum (1952); Parkview Field (2009)
Fort Wayne has finished in the top 10 in seven of the eight editions of our study, including first in 2007. As a market, total attendance declined for the second straight year, falling 8% to 740,546, which contributed to Fort Wayne dropping three spots from its previous ranking. But the Komets led the ECHL in attendance in 2018-19, averaging a franchise-record 7,932 fans per game, their fifth consecutive season of growth. Komets co-owner and President Michael Franke said the team’s success at the gate can be attributed to the Komets brand being a “very large and important piece of the fabric of this community.”
Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, the Komets’ home since the team’s inception in 1952, completed $1.4 million in renovations in 2016 that included remodeling the ticket office and dressing rooms and upgrading the entrance plaza. “Having a nice venue is very important,” Franke said. “People feel comfortable coming to it, there is plenty of parking, it’s very accessible — that’s a big part of it too.”
Meanwhile, the TinCaps finished this past season with 371,259 in total attendance, good for second in the Class A Midwest League. This year marked the 11th consecutive increase in sponsorships and corporate sales for the club. TinCaps President Mike Nutter said Parkview Field, which opened in 2009, will have a new sound system, video board and ribbon board on the suite level by Opening Day 2020. “Status quo just doesn’t get it done anymore,” he said. — Lucas Smith