Best Sports Business Cities

It got here up in a dialog amongst Sports activities Enterprise Journal editors someday final summer time: “What’s the perfect metropolis for sports activities enterprise? Can we measure that by some means? What does that even imply? How would you even do this?”

The analysis crew jumped into motion: “Maintain my (craft) beer.”

We crunched the numbers for seven months, analyzing practically half 1,000,000 bits of knowledge throughout 377 markets which can be the house of no less than one skilled or Division I school athletic program, or a everlasting occasion. We created an algorithm that took under consideration quantitative and qualitative information, in addition to interviews and sentiment evaluation from practically 100 trade veterans. We discovered loads about what makes a metropolis an incredible (and never so nice) place for sports activities enterprise.

We produced a listing of the highest 50 Finest Sports activities Enterprise Cities™. They’re residence to a number of tenured franchises, occasions, fashionable venues, sponsors, businesses, media companions and different important distributors, positioned inside cheap proximity of one another to allow them to go to and knock out conferences with a number of organizations with out overspending on resort and meals. (“The extra compact the zone, usually the higher,” summed up a longtime advertising govt.). In addition they foster a local weather of help from their residents, companies and native governments (22 states now have a fund or grant program designed to lure and/or assist pay for recruited occasions).

They need to be inexpensive to go to and/or reside in (“It’s important to think about labor prices, per diems and insurance coverage, tax rebates and logistics in your shoppers and attendees,” mentioned a league govt who has overseen many main occasions).

And they should supply intangibles which can be intrinsic to doing enterprise, corresponding to private security, high quality hospitality and leisure choices.


Ultimately, the info, the trade and even rival markets agree: Dallas is clearly the star.

The market’s sports activities enterprise footprint, which incorporates Arlington, Fort Value, Frisco and numerous U.S. Census-designated suburbs, is rising by the day. Dallas boasts world-class venues, progressive crew homeowners, and a decrease value of residing than most of its big-market friends.

If our rating had been based mostly completely on numbers, the most important markets would have been favored, as they’re residence to essentially the most groups and sponsors. However our analysis took on a unique which means once we entered the qualitative section and requested trade sources: “The place do you suppose is the perfect place to conduct sports activities enterprise?”

Charlotte’s sturdy native venue sponsorship portfolio contains uptown’s Truist Park, residence of the Class AAA Charlotte Knights.GETTY IMAGES

The overall candor we acquired — offered there was anonymity — caught us off guard and demonstrated various opinions about different markets.

“I’m a fourth-generation New Yorker — and if my father ever heard me say this I’d be kicked out of the household — however I feel Boston is the perfect sports activities enterprise city,” mentioned one govt in Chicago.

“It pains me to say this, since I’m a proud Michigan man and I used to be taught to dislike most Ohio-based issues, however I’ve all the time been impressed with Cleveland in relation to internet hosting marquee occasions,” mentioned a New York-based govt.


Along with the necessity for a decent footprint, the time period “smaller markets” was talked about repeatedly. We had been instructed usually that cities like No. 3 Charlotte (the nation’s Twenty eighth-biggest market) and No. 8 Nashville (Thirty fifth-biggest market) usually present a much bigger ROI.

“It’s a lot simpler to make a much bigger splash in smaller markets,” mentioned a New York Metropolis-based rights holder who mentioned he seeks out a market that makes his occasion feels prefer it’s the most important factor on the town. “In a market like Las Vegas, sporting occasions can get misplaced within the shuffle.”

The tone mirrors the nation’s conduct as an entire.

The pattern of individuals shifting out of California and New York to different areas has been a theme for the previous a number of years, and sports activities performs its personal position in that story. Simply as excessive taxes, value of residing will increase and inexpensive housing shortages have meant the inhabitants has shifted to extra livable areas, a substantial quantity of sports activities enterprise is transitioning to Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

“Our companions are vacation spot areas for company occasions and actually none of them are massive cities,” mentioned an govt with a long time of expertise. “That could be a sea change as a result of it was about half and half.”

Moreover, one trade veteran who has lived in 5 of our high 10 markets relocated his enterprise from Los Angeles to a smaller market due to “the standard of life for our crew.”

The “friendliness” of markets was actually not something that will have come up if this had been merely a quantitative rating. For instance, executives lauded the collaborative team-public-business environment in No. 4 Minneapolis and No. 20 Seattle.


Groups or occasions in our research which can be over a century outdated. The various listing, led by the Belmont Stakes (1867), contains different horse races, the Boston Marathon, the Rose Bowl and groups from MLB, MiLB, the NHL and NFL.

Crime was talked about, unprompted, by a number of executives as a cause to keep away from No. 2 New York, No. 6 Los Angeles, No. 9 Chicago, No. 19 San Francisco, No. 24 New Orleans, No. 32 Detroit, and No. 38 Portland.

And make no mistake, fan ardour nonetheless issues.

“Some markets we favor just because they’ve unbelievable historical past and tradition and connections that we are able to drive on,” mentioned an govt at one among sports activities’ greatest sponsors.

There isn’t a query that this rating seems dramatically totally different than it will have 5 years in the past. Austin, Las Vegas and Nashville, for instance, would most likely not make our high 25; No. 42 Birmingham wouldn’t have made our high 50; and Chicago and Portland would definitely have been ranked larger.

One factor that made us really feel like we obtained this proper: Within the weeks main as much as publishing, we spoke to executives in all the highest 10 markets, and roughly 20 others in markets ranked 11-50. Whereas a number of had been a bit upset that they didn’t end with the next rank, not one acted in the slightest degree shocked once we instructed them that Dallas was No. 1.

you’ve reached the highest when you might have that type of respect out of your friends.

SBJ Atlas researcher Autumn Robertson contributed to this part.

#1 — Dallas #2 — New York #3 — Charlotte #4 — Minneapolis #5 — Atlanta #6 — Los Angeles #7 — Las Vegas #8 — Nashville #9 — Chicago #10 — Phoenix #11 — Indianapolis #12 — Miami #13 — Tampa #14 — Cleveland #15 — Boston #16 — Kansas City #17 — Cincinnati #18 — San Diego #19 — San Francisco #20 — Seattle #21 — Philadelphia #22 — Raleigh #23 — Austin #24 — New Orleans #25 — Orlando #26 — Columbus #27 — San Antonio #28 — St. Louis #29 — Houston #30 — Pittsburgh #31 — Denver #32 (tie) — Detroit #32 (tie) — Milwaukee #34 — Washington, D.C. #35 — Greensboro, N.C. #36 — Memphis #37 — Louisville, Ky. #38 — Portland #39 — Oklahoma City #40 — Baltimore #41 — Colorado Springs, Colo. #42 — Birmingham, Ala. #43 — Hartford, Conn. #44 — Salt Lake City #45 — Sacramento #46 — Jacksonville. #47 — Bridgeport, Conn. #48 — Grand Rapids, Mich. #49 — San Jose #50 — Omaha, Neb.

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