This story is part of ESPN The Magazine's September 29 Fansourced Issue. Subscribe today!
Last year's ranking: 54
Title track: 81
Fan relations: 75
Stadium experience: 96
Bang for the buck: 45
New Orleans just went through a season of Extreme Franchise Makeover. Name: changed. Logo: rebranded. Colors: swapped. Floor: redesigned. Building: renamed. When addressing the crowd before their first game, new starting point guard Jrue Holiday could be forgiven for not knowing quite which team he was playing for: "On behalf of myself and the Sixers, I want to welcome you ... ." Even mascot Pierre the Pelican needed his head redesigned; he underwent plastic surgery for a "broken beak," according to the team, after spending the first half of the season horrifying children or really, anyone who sleeps at night.
For all the changes, fans probably liked this one best: Prices were slashed on 81 percent of seats, with 22 percent reduced by at least 20 percent. On the high end, season-ticket price reductions ran as high as $2,124 a seat (44 percent off current price), and on the low, 2,162 seats per game were available for $10 or less.
So what did those tickets buy you a chance to see? A 34-48 team that stunk about as bad as Bourbon Street in the morning. But at least scoring ticked up over five points a game, as New Orleans employed a more up-tempo fast break offense. And more hope is on the way: 21-year-old big man Anthony Davis is poised to become the NBA's next monster, a superhuman cross between Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and all four of their eyebrows. Attendance increased 19 percent last year, thanks, it seems, in large part to hype and branding. This year it could be because of basketball.