The Pittsburgh Penguins ranked No. 3 in Fan Relations out of 122 professional sports teams in North America according to ESPN The Magazine’s annual "Ultimate Standings," published this week.
ESPN surveys fans in eight different categories to come up with its detailed rankings, "combining fan surveys with financial analysis to determine the MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL franchises that give the most back for all the time, money and emotion that fans invest in them."
In the category of “Best Franchise,” the Penguins ranked No. 2 in the NHL and No. 10 out of 122 pro teams in the four major pro leagues.
The new CONSOL Energy Center had such an impact on fans that the Penguins’ ranked No. 1 in the NHL and No. 4 overall in pro sports in "Stadium Experience" – defined as "quality of stadium/arena, fan friendliness of environment, frequency of game-day promotions."
Among the Penguins’ other rankings:
- No. 1 in the NHL and No. 2 overall (tie) in "Players" (effort on field, likeability off it)
- Tied for No. 1 in the NHL and tied for No. 1 overall in "Title Track" (championships won or expected within the lifetime of current fans)
- No. 2 in the NHL and No. 3 overall in "Fan Relations" (openness and consideration by players, coaches and management toward fans)
- No. 2 in the NHL and No. 4 overall in "Ownership" (honesty and loyalty to core players and to community)
- No. 1 in the NHL and No. 5 overall in "Coaching" (strength of on-field/ice leadership)
"Pittsburgh tied with Detroit as the No. 1 hockey town," the magazine wrote, noting that each team led the NHL in three major categories.
But ESPN saved its highest praise for the Penguins’ connection to their fans. “The bond between the organization and the community was once again the strongest of the city’s pro teams,” the magazine wrote. "Welcome to Pensburgh, folks."