COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA - NOVEMBER 27: Running back Kobe Pace #20 of the Clemson Tigers runs for a touchdown while pursued by defensive back David Spaulding #29 of the South Carolina Gamecocks in the second quarter during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 27, 2021 in Columbia, South Carolina.

It’s no secret that the US loves its sports. Whether it’s NFL, NBA, MLB, college athletics, NHL, or something else. There are passionate fans everywhere. Anyone who knows me will tell you I definitely fall into that category. But if you love sports there are certainly “better” places to be if you want to be fully immersed in the culture (and a winning one at that). In fact, I’d tell you there are two types of sports fans, those who are fans of teams first, and those that are fans of the game first. Those in the latter are the ones this study is most relevant for. I’d argue that the best sports city to be in is the one where you can see your team play most often. But this study by WalletHub focused on the best overall fan experience. And in that metric, a South Carolina town topped the Best Small Sports City list.

The study compared 392 cities across more than 50 key metrics related to the five largest sports in the U.S.: football, basketball, baseball, hockey, and soccer. This is on both the pro and collegiate levels. They ranked the cities overall as well as in small, mid-sized, and large cities. Below you’ll find the rankings across all categories including which South Carolina college town is considered the best sports city. (It pains me to write it and give them this recognition more than I care to admit). In fact, many smaller North and South Carolina cities faired well in these rankings. The larger cities? Not so much. When compared to sports hubs with numerous professional teams, I suppose it’s to be expected. Be sure to read until the end to see where the champion small city ranked in the overall results.

  • Top 10 Cities For Football

    Pittsburgh Steelers

    1. Pittsburgh, PA
    2. Dallas, TX
    3. Green Bay, WI
    4. Boston, MA
    5. Los Angeles, CA
    6. New York, NY
    7. Miami, FL
    8. New Orleans, LA
    9. Cincinnati, OH
    10. Indianapolis, IN
  • Top 10 Cities For Basketball Fans

    Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers

    1. Los Angeles, CA
    2. Boston, MA
    3. Salt Lake City, UT
    4. San Francisco, CA
    5. Philadelphia, PA
    6. Miami, FL
    7. San Antonio, TX
    8. Washington, DC
    9. Houston, TX
    10. Oklahoma City, OK
  • Best Small Sports Cities

    Clemson Football

    1. Clemson, SC
    2. West Point, NY
    3. Fayette, MS
    4. State College, PA
    5. Hanover, NH
    6. Princeton, NJ
    7. Morgantown, WV
    8. Buies Creek, NC
    9. Stanford, CA
    10. Stillwater, OK
    11. East Lansing, MI
    12. Kingston, RI
    13. Hamilton, NY
    14. Boone, NC
    15. Oxford, MS
    16. Chapel Hill, NC
    17. Conway, SC
    18. Fairfield, CT
    19. Starkville, MS
    20. Lynchburg, VA

    Other NC/SC Cities:

    35. Greenville, SC

    38. Spartanburg, SC

    39. Boiling Springs, SC

    43. Cullowhee, NC

    57. Elon, NC

    100. Orangeburg, SC

     

  • Best Midsize Sports Cities

    Detroit Lions v Green Bay Packers

    1. Green Bay, WI
    2. Buffalo, NY
    3. Glendale, AZ
    4. Salt Lake City, UT
    5. Tuscaloosa, AL
    6. Orlando, FL
    7. Ann Arbor, MI
    8. Tallahassee, FL
    9. Durham, NC
    10. Baton Rouge, LA
    11. Fargo, ND
    12. Norman, OK
    13. Birmingham, AL
    14. South Bend, IN
    15. Provo, UT
    16. Cambridge, MA
    17. New Haven, CT
    18. Athens, GA
    19. Charleston, SC
    20. Greensboro, NC

    Other NC/SC Cities:

    43. Columbia, SC

    62. North Charleston, SC

    74. High Point, NC

    75. Wilmington, NC

    77. Cary, NC

    101. Fayetteville, NC

  • Best Large Sports Cities

    Super Bowl LVI - Los Angeles Rams v Cincinnati Bengals

    1. Los Angeles, CA
    2. Boston, MA
    3. New York, NY
    4. Pittsburg, PA
    5. Dallas, TX
    6. Miami, FL
    7. Philadelphia, PA
    8. Denver, CO
    9. Washington, DC
    10. Atlanta, GA
    11. San Francisco, CA
    12. Cincinnati, OH
    13. Seattle, WA
    14. Chicago, IL
    15. Kansas City, MO
    16. Indianapolis, IN
    17. Minneapolis, MN
    18. New Orleans, LA
    19. Houston, TX
    20. Nashville, TN

    NC/SC Cities:

    26. Charlotte, NC

    42. Raleigh, NC

  • Top 30 Sports Cities Overall

    A combination of small, midsize, and large cities.

  • 30. Clemson, SC

    Bowl Games North South Carolina

    Total Score: 22.57

    Football: 31

    Basketball: 52

    Baseball: 45

    Soccer: 43

    Hockey: 450

  • 29. Glendale, AZ

    Arizona Cardinals

    Total Score: 25.09

    Football: 13

    Basketball: 450

    Baseball: 450

    Soccer: 450

    Hockey: 19

  • 28. Charlotte, NC

    Hornets

    Total Score: 26.31

    Football: 25

    Basketball: 25

    Baseball: 75

    Soccer: 41

    Hockey: 450

  • 27. Las Vegas, NV

    Las Vegas Raiders

    Total Score: 27.27

    Football: 23

    Basketball: 252

    Baseball: 73

    Soccer: 40

    Hockey: 18

  • 26. Tampa, FL

    Tampa

    Total Score: 27.3

    Football: 21

    Basketball: 228

    Baseball: 89

    Soccer: 102

    Hockey: 8

  • 25. Cleveland, OH

    Chicago Cubs v Cleveland Indians

    Total Score: 28.49

    Football: 26

    Basketball: 20

    Baseball: 11

    Soccer: 112

    Hockey: 450

  • 24. Detroit, MI

    Glendale

    Total Score: 29.67

    Football: 30

    Basketball: 23

    Baseball: 22

    Soccer: 38

    Hockey: 3

  • 23. Baltimore, MD

    Baltimore Ravens

    Total Score: 29.69

    Football: 16

    Basketball: 78

    Baseball: 19

    Soccer: 94

    Hockey: 450

  • 22. Nashville, TN

    Preds

    Total Score: 29.97

    Football: 24

    Basketball: 66

    Baseball: 30

    Soccer: 23

    Hockey: 23

  • 21. Buffalo, NY

    Buffalo Bills

    Total Score: 30.44

    Football: 14

    Basketball: 155

    Baseball: 124

    Soccer: 108

    Hockey: 7

  • 20. Houston, TX

    John Wall

    Total Score: 30.75

    Football: 29

    Basketball: 9

    Baseball: 17

    Soccer: 15

    Hockey: 450

  • 19. New Orleans, LA

    Saints

    Total Score: 31.93

    Football: 8

    Basketball: 16

    Baseball: 214

    Soccer: 450

    Hockey: 450

  • 18. Minneapolis, MN

    Kirk Cousins 2022

    Total Score: 32.52

    Football: 18

    Basketball: 28

    Baseball: 9

    Soccer: 245

    Hockey: 49

  • 17. Green Bay, WI

    Green Bay Packers v Arizona Cardinals

    Total Score: 32.76

    Football: 3

    Basketball: 226

    Baseball: 450

    Soccer: 137

    Hockey: 450

  • 16. Indianapolis, IN

    Indianapolis Colts

    Total Score: 33.23

    Football: 10

    Basketball: 21

    Baseball: 33

    Soccer: 35

    Hockey: 450

  • 15. Kansas City, MO

    Kansas City

    Total Score: 34.24

    Football: 11

    Basketball: 249

    Baseball: 20

    Soccer: 5

    Hockey: 450

  • 14. Chicago, IL

    Blackhawks

    Total Score: 34.55

    Football: 27

    Basketball: 17

    Baseball: 6

    Soccer: 12

    Hockey: 11

  • 13. Seattle, WA

    Seattle Seahawks

    Total Score: 35.83

    Football: 17

    Basketball: 144

    Baseball: 21

    Soccer: 2

    Hockey: 21

  • 12. Cincinnati, OH

    Cincy

    Total Score: 35.95

    Football: 9

    Basketball: 55

    Baseball: 7

    Soccer: 22

    Hockey: 450

  • 11. San Francisco, CA

    Stephen Curry flexing in 2022

    Total Score: 36.58

    Football: 12

    Basketball: 4

    Baseball: 8

    Soccer: 202

    Hockey: 450

  • 10. Atlanta, GA

    Atlanta

    Total Score: 37.34

    Football: 20

    Basketball: 14

    Baseball: 4

    Soccer: 8

    Hockey: 450

  • 9. Washington, DC

    Nationals

    Total Score: 37.48

    Football: 22

    Basketball: 8

    Baseball: 23

    Soccer: 6

    Hockey: 15

  • 8. Denver, CO

    Denver Broncos

    Total Score: 37.75

    Football: 15

    Basketball: 24

    Baseball: 24

    Soccer: 18

    Hockey: 6

  • 7. Philadelphia, PA

    James Hardin

    Username: jharden13
    Team: Philadelphia 76er

    Total Score: 38.54

    Football: 19

    Basketball: 5

    Baseball: 18

    Soccer: 16

    Hockey: 14

  • 6. Miami, FL

    Miami

    Total Score: 38.84

    Football: 7

    Basketball 6:

    Baseball: 26

    Soccer: 14

    Hockey: 450

  • 5. Dallas, TX

    Atlanta Falcons v Dallas Cowboys

    Total Score: 42.38

    Football: 2

    Basketball: 18

    Baseball: 313

    Soccer: 19

    Hockey: 17

  • 4. Pittsburgh, PA

    Penguins

    Total Score: 46.48

    Football: 1

    Basketball: 99

    Baseball: 12

    Soccer: 31

    Hockey: 2

  • 3. New York, NY

    Yankees

    Total Score: 47.09

    Football: 6

    Basketball: 12

    Baseball: 1

    Soccer: 7

    Hockey: 5

  • 2. Boston, MA

    Jayson Tatum

    Total Score: 50.88

    Football: 4

    Basketball: 2

    Baseball: 5

    Soccer: 13

    Hockey: 1

  • 1. Los Angeles, CA

    Los Angeles Chargers

    Total Score: 50.91

    Football: 5

    Basketball: 1

    Baseball: 3

    Soccer: 1

    Hockey: 24

  • Methodology

    In order to determine the best sports cities, WalletHub combined the results from its previous rankings listed below. Each sports category was assigned a weight corresponding with the total percentage of adults in the U.S. who claim to follow that particular sport, according to Gallup.

    • Football Ranking (Overall) – Total Weight: 54 Percent
    • Basketball Ranking (Overall) – Total Weight: 16 Percent
    • Baseball Ranking (Overall) – Total Weight: 13 Percent
    • Soccer Ranking (Overall) – Total Weight: 11 Percent
    • Hockey Ranking (Overall) – Total Weight: 6 Percent

    Each sports category was also graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for sports fans. Finally, we determined each city’s weighted average across all sports categories to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.

    Our sample includes a total of 392 U.S. cities, categorized according to the following population-size guidelines:

    • Large cities: More than 300,000 people
    • Midsize cities: 100,000 to 300,000 people
    • Small cities: Fewer than 100,000 people

    Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, TN Bets, Team Marketing Report, ESPN, NCAA, Pro Football Hall of Fame, Sports Reference, Forbes, Minute Media, Sports Business Journal, MLB Advanced Media, Minor League Baseball, YouGov, Sports Reference, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, The National Collegiate Athletic Association, Forbes, Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, NBA, NHL.com, U.S. College Hockey Online, TicketIQ, U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, USL, Soccer Stadium Digest, FlashScore, Google Trends, National Soccer Hall of Fame and WalletHub analysis.

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