When it comes to fans of professional sports, there are almost no lines they won’t cross if it means their team could have the edge. If that means not changing your socks so your team’s winning streak continues or refusing to even watch games for fear of being a jinx, so be it. If that means painting you and your family’s faces in your team colors or wearing your favorite team’s logo on all you’re undergarments, you will do it. Whether or not your team wins or loses (or keeps losing season, after season, after season), a dedicated fan base will continue to show up in their brightest face paint to support.
Sure, things like revenue matter in a big way for the bottom line, but when it comes to dedicated fan bases, the X factor is passion. We plan to rate things like attendance, revenue from team apparel/swag, city involvement/impact, and how mutual a relationship the team has with its fans.
So we here at ScoreBig have scoured the major leagues for the 10 most loyal fan bases in Pro Sports.
10. Sacramento Kings: A surprise, I agree. But this team and this town showed up in a big way when threatened with a swift exit. Just last year the Sac-town Kings were headed straight for Seattle. Constant losing records and being ranked 31 of 32 in the NBA, it seemed all but certain the deal was done. But the people spoke and in conjunction with the mayor, city and a willing benefactor, this team got to keep its roots in California. Despite being one of the smallest NBA markets, this team has plans to expand in a big way in the coming future. Without support of the fans and the city, there would be no point. So chalk this one up to very smart business.
9. Utah Jazz: With Attendance up there since about 2008 (Always top 10), most Utah fans you meet are settling into their nostalgia when they show up to games. Reminiscing about times when Michael Jordan had the hardship of overcoming John Stockton and Karl Malone on their own court, the fact remains the same. They show up. Granted, and this must be taken into consideration, in a town like Salt Lake City, when a basketball game is about to tip-off, there aren’t many better places to be. So despite the MLS team Real Salt Lake, there isn’t much by way of pro sports in Utah at all. But don’t get me wrong, other teams don’t have many big shows either and they still can’t get fans to show up.
8. Portland Timbers: Though they hail from a small city, in a small league, the Timbers are making huge waves. Despite a losing franchise record (thus far) the team has proven to be a fun place to play. Fan account after fan account has energized not only the fan base but the players. Interestingly enough, the team benefits from its small setting. With a season ticket waiting list of upwards of 7,000 people in only 4 seasons of existence, the Timbers have electrified their fan base and have the coming back for more. But this definitely cohesive relationship; Timbers fans have been known to join in when the anthem is sung as well as call out visiting players for antics against their own beloved club. What’s more is that while some teams just give their fan clubs a number (Looking at you, 12th man) the Timbers are backed by none other than their very own “Army.” Who wouldn’t call that loyalty and dedication?
7. St. Louis Cardinals: Thinking of a town like St. Louis, you are more likely to consider the musical artists and beers that have come from this town more than a sports team. Unless, of course, you are talking about baseball, then there is no better place to be. Though not a one team town, Cardinals fans have been backing up this squad religiously for the last 100 years. Thankfully, the Cardinals have been somewhat consistent in giving their fans something to root for, it’s been the last 50-60 years that have proven most difficult for this team. With a strong playoff draught through the 90’s, the fan base had to lean on earlier success to help hold them through, but they managed with grace. Educating themselves on the history of the team, it’s not hard to find a fan who knows more than the history books. For St. Louis, baseball runs deep. Go to the city yourself and see how it bleeds red, navy and white for these Redbirds.
6. Green Bay Packers: While there was some talk about blacked out games and unsold seats around this past year’s playoffs, it’s undeniable that the Packers belong on this list. If you want to argue that their playoff losing streak is a reason to take them off this list, first please take note of their actually impossible Season Ticket waiting list. Claiming more than 105,000 names and an average wait time of about 100 years to get on the list, if you joined it today, you could get your own season tickets by 2114, give or take a few decades. Then consider that 12 of the 30 teams in the NFL have no waitlist at all to become a season ticket holder. Packers allow people on the list to pass along their spot to family members in the case of death. Given the 100 year wait, the idea of passing on your love for your team to your children and family is about as loyal as it gets.
5. Montreal Canadiens: Since their existence, the Canadiens have been good at winning. For the last 20 years, however, way less good at winning, but fans haven’t seemed to care. Finishing in either 1 or 2 in attendance in the NHL beginning in 2001, this team’s fans are nothing less than fervent. Maybe it’s unfair because it’s Canada, but I’d argue that because Canada is so prevalent in the NHL (Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto), it might be harder to pick a side to represent dear old Canada. But for Montreal, the choice seems clear: when the Canadiens play, the whole city is showing up.
4. Los Angeles Lakers: It seems everyone is a fan of the Lakers. When it comes to a team like L.A. you have to consider the city. There is so much to do outside that the thought of sitting for three hours to watch a sport in a huge arena that consistently hosts some of the largest acts in the country can feel a bit silly. But, in fact, that’s part of the draw. Lakers games have a huge spotlight on them because their fans tend to be used to that sort of thing. From Jack Nicholson to Ice Cube, the Lakers fans show up in big ways. When other teams play them, we consider them to be marquee games, home or otherwise. And the fact that this team has proven winning ability will keep them afloat through the end of the Kobe era, mark my words. When it was Dr. J and Magic Johnson making splashes in these here Lakes, I’m sure no one thought the party would go on. The Purple and Gold keeps proving that idea false.
3. Chicago Bulls: Chicagoans love their basketball team. Heck! We all love their basketball team. And the reason is very simple, but for the last 20 years, it has not faltered. That reason is Michael Jordan. I’m not saying that the only reason the Bulls are popular today is because of Michael Jordan, but we must admit that when the Bulls drafted him in 1984, they changed the history of the game and franchise forever. Bulls have reigned in at No. 1 in attendance since 2009. And before that they were usually No.2. Except of course in 2004 when they were at lowly No. 3 in attendance. The point being is they show up. And since MJ left in 1998ish and Derek Rose, arguably their next most premier player, didn’t arrive until 2008. There were 10 years of bad for the Bulls fans, who didn’t falter at all. That’s dedication.
2. New York Yankees: When New York Yankee Derek Jeter announced his impending retirement after the upcoming season, ticket prices as well as interest peaked in New York City and beyond to get a chance to cheer on The Pinstripers not only in Yankee Stadium but in everyone else’s stadium too. With more World Series championships than any other franchise in the sport, we can see how the fervor began. Big names like Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth only fuel the flames of fandom even more. Not only is this Yankee history, but baseball history. You tope that off with modern marvels, Jeter and Alex Rodriguez and you have full on fan-demonium! I’d wager you won’t make it far in any city, major or otherwise, without seeing at least 1 NY stitched onto a cap or T-Shirt.
1. Dallas Cowboys: As one of the most storied franchises in not only the NFL but all of professional sports, it should come as no surprise that the Dallas Cowboys take the number 1 spot on this list. I can say with confidence that Texas loves it’s football teams, from small town leagues to the Friday night lights of local high school games and of course the love of college squads like the Longhorns and Aggies. So when those blue stars light up the national stage, all of Texas (bar Houston) are ready to cheer. But it doesn’t just stop there we’re talking about “America’s Team,” and that couldn’t be more true for Dallas who has long been the fan favorite for fans without a national football team or for fans whose teams left much to be desired. The cowboys, though they haven’t made it past a playoff game since 2010 and last won the Super Bowl to cap the ’95-96 season, feel like a winning franchise. Even their stadium is larger than life. We know many of the marquee players and when you think about it, who doesn’t recognize that big blue star?
Written by ScoreBig’s Khellie Braxton
Feature Image Credit: Mahanga