Top 10 Most Affordable Cities for Sports Nuts

July 13, 2015 | By

With the 2015 MLB All-Star Game festivities set to blast off tonight at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, OH, you may be asking yourself what exactly makes a city an “All Star” for sports fans? For some, living in a city that has great sports teams means fun days out, nights at a bar to cheer on one’s favorite team, or an excuse to wear a jersey to work. Since 1992 when Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore opened, conventional wisdom has held that great stadiums make good neighbors, driving economic development and transforming run-down cities into bright, shining meccas for shopping, socializing, and living as well as rooting.

While economic data on the actual impact of stadiums on urban neighborhoods is spotty, a number of economists, like Andrew Zimbalist at Smith College, think that redeveloped cities can include sports facilities as part of plans to bring people back into city life.

If you are a sports fan who’s looking to settle in a city with affordable housing, teams worth rooting for, and where tickets, a hot dog, and a hat won’t break your budget, what cities would make the cut? To answer that question, we identified the 10 most affordable cities for sports fans.

We analyzed a set of rankings HSH.com published of the most affordable cities in the United States. HSH calculated affordability by measuring the minimum salary needed to purchase the median-priced home (we call this the “minimum required salary”) in 27 cities across the U.S. We then cross-referenced these figures with the Census Bureau’s data for median family income in each city.

We used a rough benchmark of $60,000 for the highest minimum required salary. As a result, higher-cost cities did not make our cut. These included Boston and Los Angeles – the top-ranked cities in Bleacher Report’s list – as well as New York, the San Francisco Bay area, and Washington, D.C.

We then compared that list with Bleacher Report’s February 2015 list of the “25 Best Cities to Be a Sports Fan.” Criteria in the Bleacher Report list included number and quality of local teams, quality of local stadiums, fan involvement, fan experience, local sports media, quality of local sports stars, and sports tradition and history.

Finally, each city on our list can claim professional teams in at least two of the major North American sports (professional football, basketball, baseball, and hockey). Each city also has at least one champion or finalist in each sport during the past 10 years.

Cue announcer voice: Sports fans, here are your 10 most affordable cities.

10. Miami: The median family income ($46,946) is below required salary of $59,870 by $12,924. Miami stays on the list because required salary is barely below $60,000, and the Heat hold two recent NBA titles. Also, the Miami Marlins are two-time World Series champions, the Miami Dolphins are one of the NFL’s most heralded teams, and the Florida Panthers play hockey in the Sunshine State.

9. Cleveland: The Cleveland Cavaliers were runners-up for two recent NBA championships, including 2015 with the Indians laboring in Progressive Field and things possibly looking up for the Cleveland Browns at Browns Stadium. Median family income ($49,358) is the second lowest on the list but is still $19,964 above minimum required salary (29,394).

8. Baltimore: The city that started the boom in urban core stadiums, Baltimore sports the recent Super Bowl champion Ravens and the competitive Orioles playing in the still-glorious Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Median family income of $68,455 exceeds minimum salary requirement ($50,270) by $18,185.

7. Detroit: Following the Great Recession, median household income ($51, 847) is higher than in Phoenix or Pittsburgh, and is $16,955 above required salary ($34,902). Detroit has seen recent NHL champions in the Red Wings as well as American League pennant winners in the Tigers, playing in Comerica Park near the Lions’ Ford Field. The NBA’s Pistons also have a storied past.

6. Phoenix: Median household income of $51,291 is a healthy $10,561 greater than required salary ($40,730). Phoenicians can pick from the football Cardinals as well as the baseball Diamondbacks and basketball Suns, as well as the hockey Coyotes.

5. Chicago: Median household income ($60,564) exceeds required salary ($53,470) by $7,094. Chicago is home to vintage Wrigley Field for Cubs baseball and Soldier Field for football. The Cubs have a devoted following despite their long drought away from the Fall Classic. Chicagoans also rejoice in recent Stanley Cups (Blackhawks) and Super Bowls (Bears), as well as the crosstown White Sox in baseball and resurgent Bulls in basketball.

4. Pittsburgh: Affordability ($20,504) is almost as high as St. Louis, with a median household income of $51,291 and required salary of $30,787. The Steelers and Penguins hold multiple Super Bowl trophies and Stanley Cup. They also play in new stadiums, as do MLB’s Pirates.

3. St. Louis: Median household income ($54,449) outstrips required salary ($32,607) by $21,842. With a recent World Series champion in the venerable Cardinals, playing in their new ballpark, and the NFL Rams and NHL Blues, this is a great city to be a sports fan.

2. Dallas: Median household income ($57,398) is $8,682 above the required salary ($48,716). The area boasts recent NBA champion Mavericks and two-time pennant-winning Rangers, as well as Jerry Jones’ palace for the NFL’s Cowboys.

1. Philadelphia: Median household income ($60,482) exceeds required salary ($48,776) by $11,706. The Phillies most recently won the World Series in 2008 have a stadium complex that opened in 2004. The stadium for the NFL’s Eagles opened the year before in South Philly.

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