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ESPN names Toronto the worst sports city in North America. That’s right—even worse than Cleveland

We’re with you, Dion. It stings (Image: Bridget Samuels)

Any remotely rational sports fan living in Toronto knows that we don’t have a particularly good professional sports landscape. But is it atrociously bad? Well, apparently, the answer is yes, yes it is. In its annual Ultimate Standings report, ESPN The Magazine rated Toronto as the single worst sports city in North America. Yikes. The standings only account for teams in the “Big Four” pro sports (basketball, baseball, football—the NFL kind—and hockey), so teams like the Rock, the Argos and Toronto FC don’t count. Still, we can’t help being at least a little shocked that on a continent that includes sports towns like this with teams like these, Toronto sits dead last. But ESPN is ESPN (in other words, it knows all). To understand how Toronto received such a dubious distinction, we break down the sports juggernaut’s ranking schema—which includes gems like “bang for the buck,” “stadium experience” and “title track” (paging the Maple Leafs and Raptors)—after the jump.

1. Toronto Maple Leafs
Franchise rank
: 120 (out of 122)
Last year’s rank
: 121 (only the sad-sack Los Angeles Clippers ranked lower)
Average attendance
: 19,354 (league rank: 5th)
What ESPN says
: It’s the fans’ fault for continually paying exorbitantly high ticket prices to see a team of perpetual losers with a shaky owner situation.
What we say
: So what? Leaf fans are a passionate, loyal, parade-planning bunch. Plus, the future looks bright (or at least slightly less dim): July 1st is the first day of free agency, a.k.a. the first day the Leafs can sign Brad Richards.

2. Toronto Raptors
Franchise rank
: 116
Last year’s rank
: 113
Average attendance
: 16,566 (19th)
What ESPN says
: The Raps lost the most points on “title track” (understandable) and “coaching,” but that’s about to change.
What we say
: Two years ago, the Raptors finished 18th (40-42) in the NBA standings. This season, they finished 27th (22-60), but only dropped three spots in ESPN’s rankings. Sure, it’s a minor victory, but we’ll take it.

3. Toronto Blue Jays
Franchise rank
: 63
Last year’s rank
: 92
Average attendance
: 20,907 (23rd)
What ESPN says
: Stable ownership, flexible ticket pricing and a dynamo GM almost make up for the concrete jungle known as Rogers Centre—the 14th-worst stadium experience in all of sports.
What we say
: With a young nucleus that includes Adam Lind, Ricky Romero, J.P. Arencibia and some dude named Joey Bats, we’re willing to be patient. But more of these in the future, please.

The Mag: Ultimate Standings 2011 [ESPN SportsNation]

  • mattagascar

    Typical Toronto response…”we don’t suck as much as someone else”. I wonder if Dave has ever been to Cleveland to witness the passion that city has for it’s sports teams. It’s no comparison to the lacklustre support Torontonians offer. Have you been to a Leaf game Dave? I’ve been to libraries that were noisier. I guess that’s what happens when most of the suits in attendance are spending more time on their iPhones instead of following the “action” on the ice. When will you understand that MLSE just wants your money and couldn’t give a crap what you think?

    The Agros aren’t included because a decent high school team could beat them. The CFL is an irrelevant league filled with showboating losers who couldn’t make it into the NFL. Oh, and where are the tailgate parties in TO? Right. You can’t even have a food cart outside the stadium. Sure, the Browns are not at the top of the league, but they have the largest fan base in the NFL…look it up.

    Face it Toronto you’re a tourist town, not a sports town. Stick to what you do well like film festivals, closing roads down on weekends for walks/marathons and feeling insecure about yourself. Just be glad they didn’t find out that you elected a nutjob like Rob Ford to run the city.

    PS Cleveland has a better restaurant scene too, just in case you were wondering.

  • kevinincanada

    Not to mention Toronto FC, currently third worst in the league, despite having played the most games……

  • Sid

    @ Mattagascar

    I partly agree with you on on the “typical Toronto response”. I would like to think it’s a Toronto Life response. Toronto Life has the whiniest articles and is always trying to compare itself to NY, London, Montreal or any other truly world class city. Toronto Life has a serious inferiority complex, like the kid in high school always trying to be cool.

    Just one reason I stopped subscribing to the magazine a couple of years ago. I don’t remember it being this bad when John McFarlane was editor. I visit the site hoping that the direction of the articles will change, but nothin’ yet…

  • mattagascar

    Sid…my apologies. I shouldn’t paint all Torontonians with the same brush (I was born, raised and until recently lived there myself). Let’s call it a typical Toronto media response then:

    http://www.thestar.com/sports/article/1012419–kelly-espn-s-swampy-science-overlooked-a-few-other-cities

    Sour grapes anyone?

  • Sid

    Mattagascar, thanks for the article. If we want TO to be world class, it’s got to start with the people and our attitude about ourselves. And to your point, Rob Ford ain’t helping.

 

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