It is not always easy being a fan. As each season gets underway, every fan of every team has at least an iota of optimism. Maybe this year. If you’re a fan, you know your heart will almost certainly be broken along the way. Only one team in each league ends the season with a win.
In some cities, fandom is easier. The number of teams and athletes’ personalities make a difference. Don’t discount championships either. Win and they will come. Boston sports fans have been spoiled at this point after teams across the four major sports won 10 championships in the last two decades alone..
> # of teams: 3
> Championships, last 20 yrs: 5
> Avg. win percentage: 54.1%
> Last championship: Penguins, 2017
This may be a football town with a rich tradition, including six Super Bowl titles, but lately it’s Sidney Crosby and the Penguins who own the city after winning back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017. That makes three in the last eight years. Hockey Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux put his mark on Pittsburgh hockey, winning two Stanley Cups (1991, 1992). Now Crosby carries on the tradition. Speaking of history, the Steelers have won more Super Bowl titles (six) and hosted more conference championships (11) than any other NFL team.
Ben Roethlisberger was the youngest quarterback (age 23) to win a Super Bowl in 2005, his second season. The Steelers’ last Super Bowl win was in 2009. Among Steelers Pro Football Hall of Famers inductees are Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Jerome Bettis, and Hines Ward. Roethlisberger and the Steelers have been to the playoffs the last three seasons. And once the kings of the diamond, the Pirates are now they’re fighting for attention in the Steel City. Winners of five World Series, the Pirates have been to the playoffs the past three seasons after a 20-year drought.
People in major metropolitan areas like New York and Los Angeles have the luxury of a large number of teams to choose from. Even if a few of those teams are abysmal, fans still stand a better chance of seeing at least one team each year go deep into the playoffs.
Other people have the benefit of living in a smaller city with a just few teams, all or most of which just happen to be highly successful lately. Pittsburgh just has three major sports teams across the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB compared to Los Angeles and New York’s seven and eight. But two of the three Pittsburgh teams, the Steelers and the Penguins, have been been among the top in their respective leagues for years now. Cities like Green Bay and San Antonio each hosts only one team. These teams, the NFL’s Packers and NBA’s Spurs, also happen to be among the elite teams in their respective cities.
In order to determine the 20 best cities for sports, 24/7 Wall St. created an index of all American and metropolitan areas with at least one professional team in the National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball. Cities were awarded additional points for the number of teams, the number of championships in the past decade, and the consistency of the teams’ winning records. We also considered team payrolls, the presence of major stars on teams, and other measures that are related to the overall experience of being a sports fan in a metro area.