2019’s Best Cities for Soccer Fans

Posted by: Adam McCann

Americans finally have found their own soft spot for the world’s most beloved professional sport. After what seemed an eternity of low popularity among U.S. fans, soccer — better known as “football” to the international community — has gained admiration and respect here at home.

Much of the credit for the sport’s growing domestic acceptance goes to the U.S. Women’s National Team, who made us proud with its record-breaking victory in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Part of the glory is also owed to COPA América Centenario, the world’s oldest soccer competition, held the following year on U.S. turf for the first time in its 100-year history.

In 2019, the U.S. National team won the FIFA Women’s World Cup once more. This victory has contributed to higher attendance at soccer events throughout the U.S. For example, the Chicago Red Stars saw around 13,000 fans more than average attend a game shortly after the win. In addition, the average MLS team was worth $240 million in 2018, up 7.6% from 2017.

If those attendance figures and franchise values are any indication, it’s an exciting time to be a soccer fan in America. But not every soccer city in the U.S. is a good place to love on the sport. To determine the top spots for soccer fandom, WalletHub compared more than 280 U.S. cities with at least one college or professional soccer team across five divisions and examined each based on 52 key metrics. Our data set ranges from minimum season-ticket price for a game to stadium accessibility to number of championship wins. Read on for the winners, expert insight on the future of soccer and a full description of our methodology.

  1. Main Findings
  2. Ranking by City Size
  3. Ask the Experts
  4. Methodology

Main Findings Embed on your website<iframe src="//d2e70e9yced57e.cloudfront.net/wallethub/embed/14207/geochart-soccer.html" width="556" height="347" frameBorder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe> <div style="width:556px;font-size:12px;color:#888;">Source: <a href="https://ift.tt/2Jzjzis>

Best Soccer Cities in America

Ranking by City Size

Rank (1 = Best)Large City (Score)Rank (1 = Best)Midsize City (Score)Rank (1 = Best)Small City (Score)
1Los Angeles, CA (54.64)1Orlando, FL (48.67)1New Brunswick, NJ (25.17)
2Portland, OR (46.34)2Salt Lake City, UT (47.27)2Bethlehem, PA (18.59)
3Seattle, WA (46.05)3Cary, NC (37.81)3Edinburg, TX (16.69)
4Atlanta, GA (42.84)4Cincinnati, OH (32.99)4Charlottesville, VA (12.46)
5Kansas City, MO (41.15)5Charleston, SC (18.19)5Clemson, SC (11.09)
6New York, NY (40.65)6Irvine, CA (14.26)6Buies Creek, NC (11.04)
7Washington, DC (40.60)7Reno, NV (12.50)7State College, PA (10.34)
8Chicago, IL (33.40)8Hartford, CT (12.50)8Chapel Hill, NC (9.96)
9Dallas, TX (30.44)9Kansas City, KS (12.35)9Storrs, CT (9.74)
10Boston, MA (28.34)10St. Petersburg, FL (12.17)10Stanford, CA (9.64)
11Columbus, OH (27.54)11Birmingham, AL (11.98)11Lewisburg, PA (9.49)
12Houston, TX (27.19)12Tacoma, WA (8.84)12West Point, NY (9.33)
13Denver, CO (26.23)13Dayton, OH (7.81)13Bloomington, IN (9.25)
14San Jose, CA (24.19)14South Bend, IN (7.59)14Leesburg, VA (9.13)
15Minneapolis, MN (23.88)15Columbia, SC (7.50)15College Park, MD (9.05)
16Philadelphia, PA (23.10)16Greensboro, NC (7.49)16Conway, SC (8.82)
17Louisville, KY (20.29)17Cambridge, MA (7.32)17Boiling Springs, NC (8.81)
18Sacramento, CA (17.90)18Des Moines, IA (7.27)18Hamilton, NY (8.66)
19St. Louis, MO (17.14)19Lowell, MA (6.72)19Kingston, RI (8.59)
20Nashville, TN (17.03)20Wilmington, NC (6.67)20Princeton, NJ (8.47)
21Indianapolis, IN (16.51)21Winston-Salem, NC (6.51)21Morgantown, WV (8.42)
22Las Vegas, NV (15.76)22High Point, NC (6.44)22Valparaiso, IN (8.20)
23Charlotte, NC (15.10)23Fort Wayne, IN (6.40)23Fairfield, CT (7.87)
24Tulsa, OK (15.09)23Richmond, VA (6.40)24Fairfax, VA (7.82)
25Pittsburgh, PA (14.95)25Santa Clara, CA (5.79)25Greenville, SC (7.79)
26Phoenix, AZ (14.53)26Durham, NC (5.69)26Annapolis, MD (7.76)
27San Antonio, TX (14.13)27Buffalo, NY (5.60)27Allegany, NY (7.68)
28Colorado Springs, CO (13.71)28Providence, RI (5.56)28Hamden, CT (7.67)
29Memphis, TN (13.13)29Spokane, WA (5.50)29Radford, VA (7.50)
30Albuquerque, NM (11.67)30Green Bay, WI (5.30)30Lawrence, NJ (7.45)
31Fresno, CA (11.32)31Berkeley, CA (5.25)31Harrisonburg, VA (7.42)
32Oklahoma City, OK (11.14)32Fullerton, CA (5.09)32New Britain, CT (7.41)
33Austin, TX (9.30)33Akron, OH (5.05)33DeKalb, IL (7.36)
34El Paso, TX (8.91)34Gainesville, FL (4.97)34Conway, AR (7.35)
35Baltimore, MD (7.39)35Madison, WI (4.69)35Lynchburg, VA (7.32)
36Milwaukee, WI (6.94)36Ann Arbor, MI (4.49)35West Long Branch, NJ (7.32)
37Stockton, CA (6.82)37Knoxville, TN (4.33)37Spartanburg, SC (7.22)
38Tampa, FL (6.73)38Springfield, MO (4.26)38Farmville, VA (7.20)
39Detroit, MI (6.53)39Macon-Bibb County, GA (4.15)39Easton, PA (7.19)
40Cleveland, OH (6.45)40Greeley, CO (4.06)40Bowling Green, OH (7.15)
41Jacksonville, FL (5.92)41Norfolk, VA (4.06)41Kalamazoo, MI (7.06)
42Lexington-Fayette, KY (5.60)42Abilene, TX (4.00)42Fort Myers, FL (7.02)
43Omaha, NE (5.51)43College Station, TX (3.97)43Amherst, MA (7.02)
44Miami, FL (5.47)44Mobile, AL (3.87)44Smithfield, RI (6.95)
45Raleigh, NC (4.89)45New Haven, CT (3.87)45Hackensack, NJ (6.90)
46San Diego, CA (4.58)46Syracuse, NY (3.86)46Williamsburg, VA (6.83)
47San Francisco, CA (4.38)47Baton Rouge, LA (3.86)47Loretto, PA (6.71)
48Bakersfield, CA (3.78)48Clarksville, TN (3.68)48Emmitsburg, MD (6.55)
49Honolulu, HI (3.66)49Provo, UT (3.63)49Highland Heights, KY (6.36)
50Riverside, CA (3.31)50Evansville, IN (3.61)50San Luis Obispo, CA (6.33)
51Long Beach, CA (2.76)51Tallahassee, FL (3.53)51Hanover, NH (6.33)
52Tucson, AZ (2.61)52Denton, TX (3.52)52Orem, UT (6.12)
53Fort Worth, TX (2.39)53Chattanooga, TN (3.45)53Durham, NH (6.10)
54Corpus Christi, TX (1.48)54Waco, TX (3.42)54Binghamton, NY (6.03)
55Boulder, CO (3.41)55Santa Barbara, CA (5.91)
56Lincoln, NE (3.35)56East Lansing, MI (5.83)
57Athens, GA (3.22)57Hempstead, NY (5.79)
58Peoria, IL (3.16)58Lewiston, NY (5.60)
59Worcester, MA (2.98)59Stony Brook, NY (5.59)
60Lubbock, TX (2.92)60Rock Hill, SC (5.56)
61Beaumont, TX (2.84)61Moraga, CA (5.47)
62Newark, NJ (2.66)62Elon, NC (5.44)
63Norman, OK (2.62)63Corvallis, OR (5.41)
64Tempe, AZ (2.49)64Albany, NY (5.39)
65Columbia, MO (2.35)65Oxford, MS (5.34)
66Jersey City, NJ (2.20)66Davidson, NC (5.32)
67Montgomery, AL (2.16)67Statesboro, GA (5.15)
68Boise, ID (2.09)68Auburn, AL (5.02)
69Murfreesboro, TN (2.07)69Kent, OH (4.89)
70Eugene, OR (2.04)70Evanston, IL (4.88)
71Toledo, OH (1.95)71Blacksburg, VA (4.88)
72Fargo, ND (1.82)72Huntington, WV (4.78)
73Little Rock, AR (1.78)73Edwardsville, IL (4.60)
74Fort Collins, CO (1.73)74Boone, NC (4.41)
75Huntsville, AL (1.58)75Charleston, IL (4.29)
76Jackson, MS (1.20)76Asheville, NC (4.28)
77Hampton, VA (1.09)77Clinton, SC (4.26)
78Las Cruces, NM (1.09)78Burlington, VT (4.24)
79Nacogdoches, TX (4.22)
80Muncie, IN (4.22)
81Poughkeepsie, NY (4.10)
82Martin, TN (4.02)
83Kennesaw, GA (4.00)
83Mount Pleasant, MI (4.00)
85Logan, UT (4.00)
86Normal, IL (3.99)
87Champaign, IL (3.97)
88Ypsilanti, MI (3.97)
89West Lafayette, IN (3.96)
90Rochester, MI (3.92)
91Iowa City, IA (3.92)
92Athens, OH (3.91)
93Fayetteville, AR (3.86)
94Hammond, LA (3.85)
95Orangeburg, SC (3.82)
96Davis, CA (3.81)
97Johnson City, TN (3.78)
98Newark, DE (3.73)
99Stillwater, OK (3.65)
100Ames, IA (3.65)
101Huntsville, TX (3.64)
102Thibodaux, LA (3.62)
103Cookeville, TN (3.60)
104Macomb, IL (3.53)
105Brookings, SD (3.48)
106Boca Raton, FL (3.40)
107Malibu, CA (3.40)
108Starkville, MS (3.25)
109Morehead, KY (3.19)
110Lexington, VA (3.15)
111Lawrence, KS (3.13)
112DeLand, FL (3.13)
113Ruston, LA (3.11)
114Ogden, UT (3.06)
115Ithaca, NY (3.05)
116Lake Charles, LA (2.99)
117South Orange Village, NJ (2.99)
118Cape Girardeau, MO (2.97)
119Flagstaff, AZ (2.91)
120Prairie View, TX (2.91)
121Laramie, WY (2.88)
122Grambling, LA (2.84)
123Greenville, NC (2.74)
124Manhattan, KS (2.67)
125Itta Bena, MS (2.62)
126Cheney, WA (2.53)
127Orono, ME (2.52)
128Tuscaloosa, AL (2.51)
129Cullowhee, NC (2.50)
130Pullman, WA (2.44)
131San Marcos, TX (2.41)
132Murray, KY (2.40)
133New Rochelle, NY (2.37)
134Moscow, ID (2.32)
135Hattiesburg, MS (2.17)
136Bowling Green, KY (2.15)
137Cedar Falls, IA (1.96)
138Natchitoches, LA (1.94)
139Fayette, MS (1.94)
140Terre Haute, IN (1.89)
141Jacksonville, AL (1.85)
142Missoula, MT (1.83)
143Pocatello, ID (1.80)
144Troy, AL (1.80)
145Cedar City, UT (1.68)
146Jonesboro, AR (1.67)
147Vermillion, SD (1.67)
148Oxford, OH (1.64)
149Richmond, KY (1.60)
150Towson, MD (1.58)
151Coral Gables, FL (1.57)
152Grand Forks, ND (1.48)
153Monroe, LA (1.23)
154Youngstown, OH (1.14)
155Dover, DE (1.00)
156Pine Bluff, AR (0.94)

 

Ask the Experts

Soccer is evolving, which is evident not only in rising attendance and viewership rates but also in the emergence of new sports TV networks and soccer clubs. For additional insight into soccer-related issues and trends, we turned to a panel of leading sports experts. Click on the experts’ profiles below to read their bios and thoughts on the following key questions:

  1. What are the biggest issues facing U.S. soccer today?
  2. What is the long-term outlook for professional soccer in the U.S.?
  3. To what extent has U.S. soccer embraced fantasy sports, including the daily-fantasy model?
  4. What, in your mind, makes a good soccer fan?
  5. If your child were an elite youth soccer player, would you encourage him or her to pursue the MLS/NWSL or a premier international league?
  6. The U.S. Women’s soccer team previously negotiated higher pay and will now receive some of the same travel “perks” as their male counterparts. Do you think other sports should follow this example to increase pay equity between male and female athletes?

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Methodology

In order to determine the best cities for soccer fans, WalletHub compared 288 of the most populated U.S. cities across five divisions: 1) MLS (Division I Men’s), 2) NWSL (Division I Women’s), 3) USL (Division III Men’s), 4) College Soccer (Division I Men’s) and 5) College Soccer (Division I Women’s). For our sample, we chose cities with at least one college or professional soccer team.

We evaluated the six divisions using 52 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for soccer fans. In order to determine the weight for each division, we surveyed the top-performing five teams in each division’s Facebook account, summed the number of “Likes” and calculated the proportion that each league represented in total. The weight attributed to each division is therefore based on its popularity.

Finally, we determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order the cities in our sample.

We also ranked the cities based on population size, using the following groupings:

  • Large Cities: More than 300,000 people
  • Midsize Cities: 100,000 to 300,000 people
  • Small Cities: Fewer than 100,000 people
MLS (Div. I Men’s) – Total Points = 55
  • Number of Teams: Full Weight (~6.47 Points)
  • Performance Level: Full Weight (~6.47 Points)Note: This metric was calculated by dividing the number of wins by the total games played. The past three seasons’ average was used for this calculation.
  • Number of Championship Wins: Full Weight (~6.47 Points)
  • Number of Regular Season Conference (2 conferences) Titles: Half Weight (~3.24 Points)
  • Number of Hall of Fame Head Coaches who Conducted the Team: Half Weight (~3.24 Points)
  • Franchise Value: Half Weight (~3.24 Points)Note: This metric measures the team’s estimated value in millions of dollars.
  • Minimum Season-Ticket Price: Full Weight (~6.47 Points)
  • Fan Engagement: Full Weight (~6.47 Points)Note: This metric was calculated by adding the number of Twitter followers and the number of Facebook “Likes” per capita.
  • Number of Coaches in Past 10 Seasons (Seasons 2009-10 to 2018-19): Half Weight (~3.24 Points)
  • Stadium Capacity: Half Weight (~3.24 Points)Note: This metric was calculated by dividing stadium capacity by city population.
  • Attendance: Half Weight (~3.24 Points)Note: This metric was calculated by dividing average home-fan attendance by stadium capacity.
  • Popularity Index: Half Weight (~3.24 Points)
NWSL (Div. I Women’s) – Total Points = 25
  • Number of Teams: Full Weight (~3.13 Points)
  • Performance Level: Full Weight (~3.13 Points)Note: This metric was calculated by dividing the number of wins by the total games played. The past three seasons’ average was used for this calculation.
  • Number of Championship Wins: Full Weight (~3.13 Points)
  • Number of Regular Season League Titles: Half Weight (~1.56 Points)
  • Number of Hall of Fame Head Coaches who Conducted the Team: Half Weight (~1.56 Points)
  • Minimum Season-Ticket Price: Full Weight (~3.13 Points)
  • Fan Engagement: Full Weight (~3.13 Points)Note: This metric was calculated by adding the number of Twitter followers and the number of Facebook “Likes” per capita.
  • Number of Coaches in Past 10 Seasons (Seasons 2009-10 to 2018-19): Half Weight (~1.56 Points)
  • Stadium Capacity: Half Weight (~1.56 Points)Note: This metric was calculated by dividing stadium capacity by city population.
  • Attendance: Half Weight (~1.56 Points)Note: This metric was calculated by dividing average home-fan attendance by stadium capacity.
  • Popularity Index: Half Weight (~1.56 Points)
USL (Div. III Men’s) – Total Points = 10
  • Number of Teams: Full Weight (~1.25 Points)
  • Performance Level: Full Weight (~1.25 Points)Note: This metric was calculated by dividing the number of wins by the total games played. The past three seasons’ average was used for this calculation.
  • Number of Championship Wins: Full Weight (~1.25 Points)
  • Number of Regular Season Conference (2 conferences) Titles: Half Weight (~0.63 Points)
  • Number of Hall of Fame Head Coaches who Conducted the Team: Half Weight (~0.63 Points)
  • Minimum Season-Ticket Price: Full Weight (~1.25 Points)
  • Fan Engagement: Full Weight (~1.25 Points)Note: This metric was calculated by adding the number of Twitter followers and the number of Facebook “Likes” per capita.
  • Number of Coaches in Past 10 Seasons (Seasons 2009-10 to 2018-19): Half Weight (~0.63 Points)
  • Stadium Capacity: Half Weight (~0.63 Points)Note: This metric was calculated by dividing stadium capacity by city population.
  • Attendance: Half Weight (~0.63 Points)Note: This metric was calculated by dividing average home-fan attendance by stadium capacity.
  • Popularity Index: Half Weight (~0.63 Points)
College Soccer (Div. I Men’s) – Total Points = 5
  • Number of Teams: Full Weight (~0.71 Points)
  • Performance Level: Full Weight (~0.71 Points)Note: This metric was calculated by dividing the number of wins by the total games played. The past three seasons’ average was used for this calculation.
  • Number of Championship Wins: Full Weight (~0.71 Points)
  • Number of Conference Regular Season Titles: Half Weight (~0.36 Points)
  • Number of Hall of Fame Head Coaches who Conducted the Team: Half Weight (~0.36 Points)
  • Minimum Season-Ticket Price: Full Weight (~0.71 Points)
  • Fan Engagement: Full Weight (~0.71 Points)Note: This metric was calculated by adding the number of Twitter followers and the number of Facebook “Likes” per capita.
  • Number of Coaches in Past 10 Seasons (Seasons 2009-10 to 2018-19): Half Weight (~0.36 Points)
  • Stadium Capacity: Half Weight (~0.36 Points)Note: This metric was calculated by dividing stadium capacity by city population.
College Soccer (Div. I Women’s) – Total Points = 5
  • Number of Teams: Full Weight (~0.71 Points)
  • Performance Level: Full Weight (~0.71 Points)Note: This metric was calculated by dividing the number of wins by the total games played. The past three seasons’ average was used for this calculation.
  • Number of Championship Wins: Full Weight (~0.71 Points)
  • Number of Conference Regular Season Titles: Half Weight (~0.36 Points)
  • Number of Hall of Fame Head Coaches who Conducted the Team: Half Weight (~0.36 Points)
  • Minimum Season-Ticket Price: Full Weight (~0.71 Points)
  • Fan Engagement: Full Weight (~0.71 Points)Note: This metric was calculated by adding the number of Twitter followers and the number of Facebook “Likes” per capita.
  • Number of Coaches in Past 10 Seasons (Seasons 2009-10 to 2018-19): Half Weight (~0.36 Points)
  • Stadium Capacity: Half Weight (~0.36 Points)Note: This metric was calculated by dividing stadium capacity by city population.

Videos for News Use:

 Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, National Collegiate Athletic Association, ESPN, USL, Soccer Stadium Digest, Forbes, National Soccer Hall of Fame, FlashScore, Google Trends, each conference’s website, each team’s website and each team’s social media accounts.

Image: Air Images / Shutterstock.com



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