The Tampa Bay Lightning were recognized today by ESPN The Magazine as the top professional sports franchise among all four major U.S. sports leagues in the magazine's 14th annual Ultimate Standings article.
That's No. 1 out of 122 MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL franchises
Peter Keating, the article's author, explains they "use fan surveys and financial analysis to rank MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL teams by how they reward fans for the time, money and emotion they invest in them" as the methodology used to rank each franchise.
The Lightning moved up two spots after placing third overall in last year's rankings (and first among all NHL teams).
"It was hard. People think we sprinkled pixie dust and it all just happened," Lightning CEO Steve Griggs told the Tampa Bay Business Journal. "It didn't. It was a lot of hard work by 185 employees that bought into not only the vision but the commitment. And it's not just 185 full-time people, it's the 800 people who work here every single night for a hockey game."
In the article, the Lightning ranked first for having owners and players who show appreciation for the fans. The franchise also received high marks for: having honest ownership, showing commitment to the community, providing avenues for fans to give feedback, keeping core players, willingness to pay for players and getting the most out of the money they spend.
To read the ESPN The Magazline article, click here.