Boston, Buffalo and Pittsburgh round out the top four sports markets. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Boston adults are avid sports fans, as are 63% of those in Buffalo and Pittsburgh.
The study, which aggregated avid fans of the 29 sports measured by Scarborough – including the major leagues, motor sports, college sports, minor leagues, the Olympics and others – found that 56% of all US adults are avid sports fans, putting the top cities well above average.
“Each of the leading sports towns typically has one or two major teams that carry the market,” said said Howard Goldberg, SVP of Scarborough Sports Marketing. “In Columbus, it is [Ohio State] college football. Additionally, the NHL Blue Jackets and the MLS Crew call Columbus home, and the city is surrounded by other major markets with established histories in professional sports – including Cincinnati and Cleveland.”
Proximity to the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio also contributes to Columbus sports fans’ interest, Scarborough said.
While Columbus has a high percentage of Ohio State college football fans, other leading sports towns are popular for their dominating major-league teams. Boston has two major league teams with high popularity: the Red Sox (71% of Boston adults are Red Sox fans) and the New England Patriots (67% of Boston adults are Patriots fans).
The Bills dominate Buffalo, with 66% of its residents reporting they are Bills fans. Based on percent of the market, Buffalo also is home to Sabres, the NHL team with the largest home-city fan base in the country:? 59% of Buffalo adults are Sabres fans.
In Pittsburgh, the Steelers are most prominent, with 75% of Pittsburgh adults saying they are fans. Based on percent of the market, the Steelers command the second-largest local fan base of any team in the country.
The Green Bay Packers have the highest percentage (81%) of fans of a single team and rank as the sports team with the most concentrated home-city fan base in the country.
“Green Bay is a stand-out sports town. Almost the entire market is fans of the Packers, and half are fans of the University of Wisconsin Badgers football team,” Goldberg said. “This illustrates that a city does not need to have a plethora of major league teams to be an outstanding sports market.”
About the research: Scarborough Sports Marketing measures local and national consumer and lifestyle information by surveying over 220,000 adults (18+) in 81 top-tier Markets, including all professional sports markets. Scarborough sports measurements include fan avidity; multi-media measures including sports viewing and listening; corporate sponsorship information including fans’ shopping and product/service usage; and leisure activities. Avid sports fans are defined as adults who indicate they are “very” interested in any of the 29 sports measured by Scarborough. Team fans in this press release are defined as those consumers in a local market who watched a team game on broadcast or cable television during the past year, listened to a team game on the radio during the past year, or attended a team game during the past year.