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    2024’s Best & Worst Cities For Basketball Fans

    2024’s Best & Worst Cities For Basketball Fans

    The personal finance website WalletHub released its report on the Best & Worst Cities for Basketball Fans in 2024.

    With the average NBA franchise worth $3.85 billion, it’s easy to see why it spikes in hype in the postseason.

    To find the best cities for basketball fans, WalletHub compared more than 290 of the largest cities across 21 key metrics, ranging from the performance level of each city’s NBA and NCAA Division 1 basketball teams to ticket prices and stadium accessibility.

    Best Cities for Basketball Fans Worst Cities for Basketball Fans
    1. Los Angeles, CA 286. Austin, TX
    2. Boston, MA 287. Commerce, TX
    3. San Francisco, CA 288. Dover, DE
    4. Salt Lake City, UT 289. Wichita, KS
    5. Miami, FL 290. Green Bay, WI
    6. Philadelphia, PA 291. Easton, MA
    7. Washington, DC 292. Berkeley, CA
    8. Milwaukee, WI 293. Pocatello, ID
    9. New York, NY 294. Daytona Beach, FL
    10. San Antonio, TX 295. New Britain, CT


    • Charlotte, North Carolina, has the lowest average ticket price for an NBA game, which is 4.3 times less expensive than in San Francisco, the city with the highest.
    • The Phoenix Suns have the highest performance level among NBA teams, which is 2.7 times better than that of the Houston Rockets, the team with the lowest.
    • The Gonzaga Bulldogs have the highest performance level among college basketball teams, which is 8.6 times better than that of the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils, the team with the lowest.
    • Miami has the highest fan engagement for NBA teams, which is 28.6 times higher than in New York, the city with the lowest.

    Cassandra Happe, WalletHub Analyst said “Basketball is one of the most beloved sports in the U.S., and while you can enjoy watching it from anywhere, there’s something truly special about living in one of the best cities for basketball fans. Being able to see top teams in huge arenas with hordes of dedicated fans is an incredible experience. The best cities also promote basketball not just at the professional level, but at the collegiate level, too.”

    “Los Angeles is the best city for basketball fans in 2024, due largely to its two NBA teams, the Lakers and Clippers, as well as an abundance of collegiate teams. The Los Angeles Lakers have won the NBA championship 17 times, tied for the most wins of any team, and the UCLA Bruins have brought the city the most national titles of any college team. In addition, L.A.’s NBA franchises have an average value of around $5.5 billion.”

    Expert Commentary

    What, in your mind, makes a good basketball fan?

    Jim Strode, Ph.D. – Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs; Professor, Ohio University commented, “NBA fans, not surprisingly, are a loyal bunch. Good NBA fans are the ones that follow particular teams regardless of players. The league has always been driven by star power, allowing fans to switch allegiances frequently. I think the best fans are the ones who support their team and home city, regardless of the roster.”

    Natalie Michelle Welch – Assistant Professor, Seattle University added, “There is definitely not one right way to be a fan, but I will say I do not tolerate fans who attack opposing teams, athletes, or fans. There is a line that I think is too often crossed under the guise of competition. That said, a good basketball fan can be a lover of the game, a lover of a team, and/or a lover of a certain athlete. There are so many ways to be a good fan: you can attend games, watch/stream, follow social accounts, etc. To me, the best fans have a mix of passion for the game and a love of stories and the narrative that makes basketball such an amazing sport and share that love with their community.”

    Do you have any tips for how basketball fans can enjoy the sport without breaking the bank?

    Charles D.T. Macaulay – Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts Amherst
    mentions, “As always, people should be mindful of their broader budget and focus on what is important to them. This also means being honest with yourself about your fandom. Do you really sit down and watch a game every night, or are you more of a casual consumer? Based on your answer, we are fortunate to live in an era with almost an endless variety of multimedia platforms to choose from when watching a basketball game. Ultimately, choose the package that is right for you.”

    Jim Strode, Ph.D. – Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs; Professor, Ohio University said, “This is tough, as the average NBA ticket price remains relatively high compared to the bargain prices of MLB. If the team you follow is out-of-market, I think the NBA League Pass is a steal. For those in-market, you are at the mercy of your local sports distributor’s prices and schedule, but it still may be more affordable than live attendance.”

    What are the biggest challenges facing professional basketball today?

    Natalie Michelle Welch – Assistant Professor, Seattle University said, “I would say the biggest challenge facing professional basketball is the corruption that we see at the lower levels that prevents opportunities for talented players to make it professionally (i.e. ridiculously expensive AAU programs). I would also say the easier you can make it to watch the game, the better. There is still a lot being figured out on the streaming side and fans do not want to jump through hoops (pun intended) to watch their favorite team/athlete.”

    Jim Strode, Ph.D. – Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs; Professor, Ohio University added, “Like all professional and college sports, navigating the ethics behind legalized gambling is front of mind for all in leadership positions. The NBA sent a strong message with the lifetime ban of Jontay Porter. Analytics has made the detection of point spread anomalies easier to discover but ensuring that players remain committed to the integrity of the game is imperative. On the positive side, sports gambling and fantasy sports have already attracted more casual fans to pay attention to regular-season games, so there continues to be a huge market opportunity for all professional and college leagues.”

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