The Lightning’s renaissance continues to gain recognition on a national scale. ESPN The Magazine released their Ultimate Standings last Friday and the Bolts were ranked 7th. Considering the list ranks all 122 professional sports teams in North America, that’s not too shabby at all.
It’s the second consecutive year the Bolts have finished in the top ten of this list, coming in at 2nd overall in 2011. They are also the highest ranked franchise in Tampa Bay for the second year and second-highest of National Hockey League teams.
The categories used to calculate the ratings are as follows, courtesy of ESPN.go.com:
Bang For The Buck (BNG): Wins during the past three years (regular season plus postseason) per revenues directly from fans, adjusted for league schedules.
Fan Relations (FRL): Openness and consideration toward fans by players, coaches and management.
Ownership (OWN): Honesty and loyalty to core players and local community.
Affordability (AFF): Price of tickets, parking and concessions.
Stadium Experience (STX): Quality of arena and game-day promotions as well as friendliness of environment.
Players (PLA): Effort on the field and likability off it.
Coaching (CCH): Strength of on-field leadership.
Title Track (TTR): Championships already won or expected in the lifetime of current fans.
Since Jeff Vinik purchased the team, it’s been well documented that the Lightning have drastically improved in each of these categories. The stadium experience has changed given the $47 million in renovations that took place last summer. Season tickets did increase in price over the last two years, but are still far and away less expensive than other places in the league. The numbers speak for themselves for pretty much in the other categories.
Things may not be as favorable if another season is lost due to labor dispute. The recognition of another high ranking is great, but it’s hard to get too jazzed about it if we may not even see our team take the ice for the foreseeable future.