Atlanta Is One Of The Top Sports Towns in America, Not The Worst

The entrance to Truist Park with a large sign stating "Atlanta Braves" over the gatePhoto: Larry Felton Johnson/Cobb County Courier

by John A. Tures, Professor of Political Science, LaGrange College

Cobb County is home to the Atlanta Braves, and does its part to provide a healthy supply of fans to the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta United. Yet pundits and sports reporters typically label Atlanta the worst sports town. Are they right? I use a measure of attendance to show that actually Atlanta is one of the best cities for sports in America. And the team’s two championships over the last ten years put them ahead of a lot of other metropolises when it comes to titles.

In late June, sports pundit “Big Game Boomer” tweeted out that Atlanta led the list of the “Top 10 Worse Sports Towns in the US,” ahead of Charlotte, San Diego, Orlando, Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Miami, Los Angeles and Washington, DC.

Fox 5 Atlanta Sports Report and Anchor Miles Garrett, whose Twitter repost netted nearly 500,000 followers, contends “This has become such a lazy take.”

Who is right?

It’s a familiar tale told across the sports world over the years. An ESPN writer claimed “Without question, Atlanta is the worst sports town in America. If the New York Yankees are the standard for excellence in baseball, Atlanta is the epitome of the bottom of the barrel when it comes to fan support.”’s title states “Welcome to Atlanta: The Worst Sports City in the World.” A Forbes author claims that Atlanta tops the list of America’s most miserable sports cities. The New York Times claims Atlanta to be the most cursed sports city in America. The Chicago Tribune listed Atlanta as one of the worst sports cities.

Before I moved to the Atlanta area, I just assumed they were right, and braced myself for the worst.

Therefore, I was stunned at not only the great turnouts, but passion and camaraderie of the fans, something I haven’t always found everywhere else I’ve attended a game. And the team running the Atlanta Braves and Atlanta United are the best in professional sports, while the Falcons and Hawks experience has been pretty good as well.

Most articles list a devastating loss, a lack of championships, and occasionally an attendance number or two, but rarely something comprehensive and truly comparative. It got me wondering not just who is the best, but who is the worst.

Only 15 places have a franchise in four of the five major sports leagues: Major League Baseball, National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, and Major League Soccer. Atlanta gets dinged for losing two hockey franchises, a standard curiously not applied to San Diego, Seattle, St. Louis, Oakland, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Kansas City, and others who have had franchises leave for greener pastures.

So I took the rankings for attendance for the most recent calendar year available, using an average when there are two franchises in the city or metro area. All had an NFL franchise except for Toronto, so I used their NHL number there. Since some had NHL only and others had MLS only, I used the one number if it was one league only, and took an average of the two (NHL and MLS) if they had both. I summed all four attendance ranks, and averaged those.

Atlanta actually finished tied for second with New York, just barely behind Dallas for averages across the four numbers. Rounding out the top five for fan support were Denver, Toronto, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston and then Chicago. For the lowest fan support among cities with four major franchises were Phoenix, following by Miami, and Washington. Those three made “Big Game Boomer’s” list of ten worst, so he’s not entirely wrong. But Atlanta and L.A. don’t deserve a bottom ten fate.

When it comes to championships, Charlotte, San Diego and Orlando are lacking in ever having one over the last ten years. Tampa (sixth on his list) has 3 while Baltimore has one. Among those with 4-5 major franchises, LA has the most wins in the finals, followed by Boston and then Chicago and Denver with three each in the last ten years. Dallas, Minneapolis, Detroit and Phoenix are still searching for their first titles over the last ten years.

Clearly Atlanta is one of the better sports towns, not the worst.

If you dispute my number or analysis, that’s fine. But use some sort of evidence in your assessment of best sports cities. Don’t just repeat what everyone else has been saying over the years, without doing a little fact-checking yourself.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia. His views are his own. He can be reached at His Twitter account is JohnTures2.