WalletHub report on ‘best sports cities’ features insight from Mark Cryan

Cryan, assistant professor of sports management, was featured as an expert in WalletHub's recent report on America's best sports cities.

Mark Cryan

A recent study from WalletHub compiling the best sports cities in America for 2021 featured input from Assistant Professor of sports management Mark Cryan on what constitutes a “good sports city.”

According to Cryan, a good, or even great, sports city should have at least three of the four traditional North American professional leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL). Bonus points are given if a city has an MLS or WNBA franchise.

“While many people focus on championships, in my opinion, attendance is a stronger measure. The best sports cities have fans that support their teams through thick and thin. I would argue that if two teams have the same attendance, while one team is a winner and the other struggles, the place with the losing team that can still draw fans is the ‘better’ sports city,” Cryan said.

Cryan also spoke on the important of local television ratings acting as a reflection of the loyalty of local fans. With the cost and time commitment of attending games in-person is out of reach for some fans, TV ratings are good way of gauging this.

“Merchandise sales are another indicator of fan loyalty,” Cryan said. “While a replica jersey may be out of reach for many fans, a team T-shirt or cap is within almost any budget and reflects the average fans’ desire to identify with their local team.”

Cryan said sports teams should reflect the character of their cities, both in brand and roster composition. Fans in Philadelphia want gritty players, while Los Angeles fans want marquee names.

“Generally, the larger the city, the more intolerant the fans are of losing. Fans in Kansas City will be patient while the Royals have some down years, but Yankee fans expect to win every game and will stay home in droves if the team is not performing. This is reflected in a team’s on-field approach; the Yankees are always in a ‘win-now’ mode,” he said.

The full report (in which Elon was ranked as the 122nd best sports city in the nation) and Cryan’s input can be found here.