A recent article by ESPN Magazine placed the Carolina Hurricanes as the second best "fan friendly" franchise in all of major sports, as well as the number one franchise in the NHL. How did ESPN arrive at those results? What exactly are the numbers comprised of? We have not had a chance to delve into this yet, so let's take a closer look right now.
Peter Keating, the author of the article, describes his exact methodology here. To make a long story short, a consulting firm from Chicago helped with the analysis by polling 1,000 fans and asked them a variety of questions related to their favorite sports franchise. The questions included 21 topics which were eventually grouped into eight different categories. They received over 50,000 responses which were all used in the analysis.
1. The first category was "bang for the buck" which took into consideration total franchise wins over the last three years, including post season play, per revenues directly from fans. In other words, they calculated the efficiency of management and their ability to take fan generated revenue and turn it into wins. (This particular category was an actual calculation and had nothing to do with the fan poll).
The Hurricanes placed number one in the NHL for this, which is a credit to Jim Rutherford and crew.
2. The next category was "fan relations" which included openness and consideration toward fans by players, coaches, and management. For instance, open practices are common here in Raleigh, but not so much at some other places in the league. Within this category, there were four sub-categories. While the Canes placed first in all of sports concerning "player accessibility", they placed 10th overall regarding "owner and players show appreciation to fans". They were seventh regarding the questions of "providing fans an opportunity for feedback" as well as "players act professionally on and off field". (Other than yelling at cars in rural Minnesota, these guys are usually pretty quiet)
3. The "ownership" category was an interesting one. This category had three sub-categories, "honest ownership", "loyalty to core players", and "commitment to community". The Hurricanes were rated ninth best overall in loyalty to players, but ownership was rated 26th and 27th in honesty and commitment to the community.
Overall the franchise rated seventh in the league and 10th overall in this category. Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Washington were the top three.
4. "Affordability" was the next category and the Canes placed second in the NHL in this one. The consulting firm compared the pricing of tickets, parking, and concessions around the league. St. Louis placed number one, while Buffalo and Nashville were third and fourth, respectively.
5. The next category was "stadium experience" which included sub-topics "stadium quality", "promotions, contests, and giveaways," and "fan friendly environment." The Canes finished second in the NHL here, but fans rated their overall arena quality as 18th best, while "fan friendly environment" was number one in all of professional sports. (tailgating anyone?)
Minnesota ranked number one in the league here with Columbus at number three.
6. Caniacs rated their "players" at fifth in the league and 15th overall in this category. The "likeableness" of players was rated seventh while fans lashed out with a 19th overall rating for "players always give their best effort". (wonder who fans have in mind).
7. The next category, "coaching" was not the strongest for the franchise but it didn't count much toward the overall rating. Fans graded "strength of on field leadership" as ninth best in the league and 28th best overall.
8. Last but not least, the "title track" category was very highly rated by Carolina fans. The Canes finished second in the league behind only Detroit and ahead of third place Anaheim and fourth place New Jersey. Caniacs are proving to be an optimistic bunch as this rating was based upon "championships already won or expected during the lifetime of current fans".