Street & Smith’s Sports Business Daily named the Quad Cities the top minor league sports market out of 229 markets in the country. The Quad Cities is usually ranked somewhere in the top 50 or so on this list normally when it comes out every two years. I’m not a big fan of lists like this. The measures they choose are subjective. It doesn’t mean it’s totally meaningless though. Here are a few things that I think you could take away from it.
The Quad Cities are getting noticed. The River Bandits have a shot at setting their all-time attendance mark this year. The Mallards have had some of the biggest attendance increases in minor league hockey in the last couple years. Even the Lumberkings have had steady attendance. People are noticing that our teams are drawing well.
Winning doesn’t hurt. The article mentioned the Mallards have made the playoffs the last three seasons. The River Bandits have won their league championship two of the last four seasons and have already clinched a playoff spot for this season. I’m sure all of this helped. In addition, the River Bandits have had a number of players go on to become stars in the big leagues.
We have established franchises. One factor they use for this ranking is the longevity of the franchises. The River Bandits and Lumberkings are two of the oldest franchises in minor league baseball, and we have had pro hockey here now for 20 years. It is not that common to have this kind of longevity in the minor leagues. The Lumberkings are the oldest franchise in the Midwest League.
Our venues are excellent. The River Bandits and Lumberkings each did an overhaul of their stadiums in 2004 and 2005, respectively. The River Bandits seemingly add some new feature to their ballpark every year. The iWireless Center is 22 years old now but they have done a great job at maintaining it. It is currently undergoing millions of dollars in improvements to keep it up to date and in good repair.
Our fans walk up. The article talked about how our fans walk up by the thousands, which is unusual. I think it’s because we’ve never really had a ticket shortage here. The iWireless Center can seat 9,500 for hockey and Modern Woodmen Park now can seat 8,000+. There has rarely ever been a need for people to buy tickets in advance. If things continue the way they are though, this could change.
The Mallards appear to be here to stay. The article mentioned the Mallards expect to break even this year. This is a huge milestone for a franchise that was at death’s door just a few years ago. The ownership group and front office deserve tons of credit for figuring out how to revitalize the team and for sticking with it.
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