It’s no secret that many Americans love sports, so attending a professional or a collegiate game is often included as a leisure activity in meeting and event itineraries. Most U.S. meetings destinations offer several sports options, but which offer the best experiences for fans?

WalletHub—a personal finance website that is also known for its free consumer tools—attempted to answer that question in its 2019 Best Sports Cities rankings, which were released Nov. 14. The big winner was Boston, which ranked first overall among large cities, including a No. 1 ranking in basketball and hockey.

The professional and college sports offerings of 418 cities were evaluated on 58 key metrics, grouped under four categories: performance by teams, season ticket prices, stadium accessibility and level of fan engagement. In determining the rankings, sports were given these weights, based on the total percentage of adults in the United States who claim to follow each sport: football, 50 percent; basketball, 31 percent; baseball, 27 percent; hockey, 15 percent; and soccer, 9 percent.

Top-Ranking Cities

Although Boston was the clear-cut leader, New York City ranked as the second-best large sports city, followed by Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Chicago. The top cities for the other individual sports were Pittsburgh (football) New York City (baseball) and Los Angeles (soccer).

Separate rankings were given for large (more than 300,000 people) midsize (100,000 to 300,000 people) and small (less than 100,000 people) cities. Cincinnati was ranked as the best midsize city for sports, followed by Buffalo, Green Bay (Wisconsin), Salt Lake City and Orlando. Clemson, South Carolina, topped the small-city list, trailed by West Point, New York; State College, Pennsylvania; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Best vs. Worst

WalletHub’s research revealed a wide disparity between the cities scoring best and worst in some categories.

  • Cookesville, Tennessee had the lowest minimum season-ticket price for a college football (FBS an FCS) game, $36, and South Bend, Indiana—home of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish—had the highest, $1,150.
  • New Orleans had the lowest average ticket price for an NBA game, $30.20, and New York City had the highest, $97.77.
  • Phoenix had the lowest average MLB ticket price, $20.86, and Boston had the highest, $59.32.
  • Atlanta had the highest attendance rate for MLS games, 124.71, while Minneapolis has the lowest, 47.05.

The Lists

Here are some of the main rankings from the research. Each city was ranked on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for sports fans.

Large Cities

  1. Boston 25
  2. New York City 15
  3. Los Angeles 2
  4. Pittsburgh 6
  5. Philadelphia 34
  6. Chicago 92
  7. Washington, D.C. 52
  8. Dallas 97
  9. Oakland 24
  10. Denver 2

Midsize Cities

  1. Cincinnati, Ohio 94
  2. Buffalo, New York 71
  3. Green Bay, Wisconsin 27
  4. Salt Lake City, Utah 51
  5. Orlando, Florida 24
  6. Glendale, Arizona 60
  7. Ann Arbor, Michican 32
  8. Durham, North Carolina 22
  9. South Bend, Indiana 30
  10. Baton Rouge, Louisiana 15.50

Small Cities

  1. Clemson, South 58
  2. West Point, New York 84
  3. State College, Pennsylvania 64
  4. Chapel Hill, North Carolina 56
  5. Tuscaloosa, Alabama 01
  6. Hanover, New Hampshire 87
  7. Morgantown, West Virginia 58
  8. East Lansing, Michigan 47
  9. Princeton, New Jersey 13
  10. Buies Creek, North Carolina 01


  1. Pittsburgh
  2. Boston
  3. Green Bay, Wisconsin
  4. Dallas
  5. New York City
  6. Miami
  7. New Orleans
  8. Oakland
  9. Philadelphia
  10. Seattle


  1. Boston
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Oakland
  4. San Antonio
  5. Salt Lake City
  6. Miami
  7. Oklahoma City
  8. Philadelphia
  9. Chicago
  10. Houston


  1. New York City
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Louis
  4. Boston
  5. Chicago
  6. Atlanta
  7. San Francisco
  8. Arlington, Texas
  9. Oakland
  10. Cincinnati


  1. Boston
  2. Detroit
  3. Pittsburgh
  4. Chicago
  5. New York City
  6. Newark, New Jersey
  7. Anaheim, California
  8. Buffalo, New York
  9. Tampa, Florida
  10. Washington, D.C.


  1. Los Angeles
  2. Atlanta
  3. Salt Lake City
  4. Portland
  5. Seattle
  6. Atlanta
  7. Kansas City
  8. New York City
  9. Washington, D.C.
  10. Cary, North Carolina