The SportsBusiness Journal’s rankings are based primarily on attendance figures. The publication’s researchers analyzed 235 markets, 47 leagues, and 408 teams.
Topping the list as the number one market in the country is Toledo, Ohio, home of the Walleye. During the 2012-13 season, the Walleye set an all-time club record with 6,298 fans per game, surpassing the 6,000 mark for the fourth consecutive season. Toledo was also honored by the ECHL as the 2012-13 recipient of the Marketing Award of Excellence.
San Bernadino County, Calif., which includes Ontario, finished fourth in the rankings. The Reign, who led the ECHL in attendance from 2009-10 through 2011-12, and were second on 2008-09, finished second in 2012-13 with 7,575 per game, an increase of 20.1 percent over the previous season. Ontario has welcomed over 1.1 million fans in its first five seasons, and was awarded the 2012-13 ECHL Ticket Department of the Year Award for the second time in three seasons.
Fort Wayne, Ind. was named the seventh-best minor league market in the country. In their first season in the ECHL in 2012-13, the Fort Wayne Komets led the League with an average of 7,583 fans. Fort Wayne had 10 crowds of at least 8,000 fans this season, including three games in excess of 10,000.
Falling just outside the top 10 in 11th place was Charleston, S.C. The South Carolina Stingrays concluded their 20th season in North Charleston in 2012-13, and are the second-longest active ECHL team in one city, just behind the Wheeling Nailers.
Bakersfield, Calif. was ranked the 25th best minor-league market in the country. The Condors finished the 2012-13 season with an average of 4,618 per game, marking the ninth straight year that the team has averaged over 4,600 fans.