Here is our ranking of all 122 franchises in the four major pro sports leagues, based on what you, the fans, told us about how each and every team is doing.
For more information on how the Ultimate Standings were compiled, see below.
The method to our ultimate madness
It takes four steps for us to rank every pro team in North America.
First, working with Maddock Douglas, a Chicago consulting firm, we surveyed 1,014 sports fans across North America in July to find out what you want most in return for the emotion, money and time you invest in MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL clubs. Our poll covered 25 topics, from "has honest ownership" to "connects me to information I want about the team online or via mobile devices."
Second, through ESPN.com and NetReflector, a Seattle opinion research company, we asked fans to rate their favorite franchises in each of these 25 areas, and more than 100,000 of you responded. Thank you! We grouped the grades into seven of the eight categories listed below, and some teams vary widely in how well they score across these lists. San Francisco Giants fans, for example, rate AT&T Park as the best stadium experience in all of sports, but they rank their team just 112th out of 122 clubs when it comes to affordability.
Third, for the final category, bang for the buck, we relied on calculations we have developed with researchers at the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, where we figure out how efficiently teams convert the money fans spend into on-field wins (including the postseason).
Finally, we combined each team's score across all eight categories into a weighted average, based on the results of our national poll. Since fans said a fan-friendly environment at games was about as important as a team's commitment to its community, for example, our formula reflects that judgment.
The result: rankings that combine fan opinions with an objective measure of how well teams turn your dollars into wins. Ultimately, it all counts.
Affordability (11.3%): Price of tickets, parking and concessions
Coaching (3.2%): Strength of on-field leadership
Fan relations (25%): Courtesy by players, coaches and front office toward fans, plus how well a team uses technology to reach fans
Ownership (13.1%): Honesty; loyalty to core players and the local community
Players (14.6%): Effort on the field, likability off it
Stadium experience (9.8%): Quality of arena; fan-friendliness of environment; frequency of game-day promotions
Title track (4.6%): Championships won or expected within the lifetime of current fans
Bang for the buck (18.3%): Wins in the past two years per fan dollar, adjusted for league schedules
Additional reporting by Lily Liu.
Thanks for financial analysis to Paul Swangard and the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon.