Here is a sports topic that has never been broached:
“Miami has the best sports fans in America.”
Among major metropolitan areas, Miami has the most apathetic sports fan base in the country. Even considering the heavy concentration of European and Hispanic residents, Miami cannot support a Major League Soccer team, although it is about to be given another chance to prove that statement wrong, which it probably won’t.
There have been lots of arguments about which city has the best sports fans in America, and thanks to social media, that argument can go on forever, and include voices from all over the country. Except Miami.
But there is one sports argument that has been officially settled, thanks to a chart created by the website Redditor and re-distributed by the website Deadspin:
Chicago is the best city in which to be a sports fan, followed closely by Philadelphia. In fact, taking into account my personal bias towards Chicago, I will in fairness call it a toss-up.
(Side note: No one who has ever attended a major sporting event in Philadelphia is ever going to argue that Philadelphia has the best sports fans, unless “best sports fans’’ means “fans mostly likely to get into a fight before, during or after the game”.)
The chart above shows the distance from the city center (however that is defined) to the sports stadiums for teams playing in the four major sports leagues: the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League. There are only 10 metropolitan areas that host teams in each of those four sports, and are the only ones considered for this chart.
As the chart shows, Chicago and Philadelphia are the only cities among those 10 that do not have at least one significantly outlying stadium hosting a team.
In Chicago, the stadiums considered are Wrigley Field (on the near north side), the United Center (home to both the Blackhawks and Bulls on the city’s near west side) and Soldier Field (home to the Bears that could not be more downtown). U.S. Cellular Field, home to the White Sox, is on the near south side, but the chart shows the closest stadium when a metropolis hosts two teams in the same sport.
Using Mapquest directions, the total driving distance from the city center to those three stadiums is 10.3 miles. For comparison, the driving distance from downtown Boston to Gillette Stadium for a New England Patriots game is 28 miles. The driving distance from downtown Detroit to The Palace of Auburn Hills for a Pistons game is 32.7 miles.
You have to give Philadelphia its props because all of its stadiums are within walking distance of each other. They are actually in spitting distance of each other, although that is not to suggest that Philadelphia sports fans would do more spitting than any other sports fans.
The South Philadelphia Sports complex includes the Wells Fargo Center (home to the 76ers and the Flyers), Lincoln Financial Field (home to the Eagles) and Citizens Bank Park (home to the Phillies). They are all next door neighbors. That is significantly cool. For the purposes of the chart, the South Philadelphia Sports complex is 3.27 miles from the city center, and multiplied by four it comes to 13 total miles, but once you are in South Philly, you could easily see a noon baseball or football game and an evening basketball or hockey game and never have to leave the area.
The Philadelphia design is the way all major cities should host professional sports. That complex is easy to get to, and the neighborhood knows exactly what it is going to have to deal with in terms of traffic nearly every day of the year.
The Dallas Cowboys are housed in the sparkling new AT&T Stadium, which is actually in Arlington, Texas, which is actually also home to the Texas Rangers, which is actually Dallas’ representative in Major League Baseball. AT&T Stadium is 19 miles from downtown Dallas, and because of the cost of attending a game there, it is also virtually inaccessible for the average American anyway.
Phoenix, which has no lakes or oceans or rivers to stand in its way, still put both its football and hockey stadiums in Glendale, which according to MapQuest and the cost of the taxi ride I have taken to get out there, is approximately 1,000 miles away from downtown Phoenix.
If Detroit had a downtown arena for basketball, it would rival Chicago and Philadelphia in terms of proximity of major league sports. If Cleveland ever got an NHL team and they played at Quicken Loans Arena, home of the Cavaliers, that city would be the new winner. Quicken Loans Arena, Progressive Field and FirstEnergy Stadium are all right downtown. Of course, they are in downtown Cleveland, so that’s a drawback.
In Chicago, in battles over stadium issues, the Cubs, Bears and White Sox have all toyed with the idea of going suburban (the White Sox threatened to move to Tampa Bay, which is way on the south side of town). It has not happened, and I think Chicago officials realize one of the beauties of their town is the proximity of their sports stadiums.
I realize I have a bias, but being able to stay downtown and walk, or take quick public transit, to major sporting events seems to me to be a big selling point of the urban experience. Chicago, Philadelphia and Cleveland all have that about which they can boast.
Of course, Chicago is unique among those three because it has other things about which it can boast as well.
Not that I’m biased or anything.