ESPN the Magazine ranked the New Orleans Saints No. 3 in its ninth annual "Best Franchises In Sports" rankings, in this week's "Best In Sports Issue" on newsstands Friday, June 17.
The "Best Franchises In Sports" feature is part of ESPN The Magazine's Ultimate Standings methodology study, which determines an overall ranking for pro sports franchises according to how much they give back to fans for the time, money and emotion they invest in them.
The rankings are determined by a multi-tiered analysis that examines a team's efficiency in spending fan money as compared to its on-field performance. It also factors in feedback in 21 categories from more than 70,000 fans nationwide, both online at ESPN.com and in polling conducted by both independent third parties.
The Packers came in at No. 1 on the list followed by the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning at No. 2. Following the Saints, the MLB's Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim came in at number four and the NBA's San Antonio Spurs at number five. Additional leaders include the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder at number six, the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers at number seven, Major League Baseball's Colorado Rockies at number eight, and the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies and NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins rounding out the top at numbers nine and ten respectively.
In all, 122 teams from the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball were ranked in order, based on a weighted average of scores in eight different categories ranging from the quantitative to the emotionally subjective: "bang for the buck" (24.3%), players (16.6%), fan relations (16.5%), affordability (14.1%), stadium experience (9.1%), ownership (9.0%), title track (6.7%), and coaching (3.9%).
"The best teams in sports find ways to reward their fans' devotion," said ESPN The Magazine editor, Peter Keating. "The teams at the top of our Ultimate Standings are winners on the field, but, as we write in the magazine, they're truly notable for returning fans' love—keeping core players, discounting tickets, investing in their communities. Value, both economic and emotional, has always figured prominently in our rankings, but this year we heard louder than ever that a team's commitment to its fans matters more than anything else, more than even new stadiums and championship rings."
ESPN The Magazine's "Best In Sports Issue" also features an in-depth look at the Best Fans in America (the U.S.-based fans of the Mexican national soccer team); the Best Surprise In Baseball (Matt Joyce of the Tampa Bay Rays), and a compendium of the Best of Everything in sports, from the best sports app to the autograph fans should get right now.