Tampa Bay Lightning Franchise Highly Ranked By ESPN The Magazine

According to ESPN The Magazine, the Tampa Bay Lightning are one of the best professional sports franchises, the seventh best, to be exact. In their latest issue, ESPN rated over 120 professional sports franchises in the NHL, NFL and MLB and compiled their tenth annual “Ultimate Standings" issue.

The Bolts were named the seventh best franchise in sports and the second best in the NHL, behind the sixth ranked Phoenix Coyotes. The Lightning were the top ranked franchise in Tampa Bay. This gives the Bolts two straight years of top ten finishes in the ESPN ranking.

ESPN The Magazine’s Ultimate Standings looks to determine a ranking of all professional sports franchises according to how much they give back to fans for their invested time, money and emotion.

The rankings are an analysis of a team’s efficiency in spending fan money as compared to its on-field performance. The analysis also takes into account feedback in 25 categories voted on by over 70,000 fans across the nation in polls featured on ESPN.com.

The standings are based on a weighted average of scores in these eight categories:  “bang for the buck”, players, fan relations, affordability, stadium experience, ownership, title track and coaching. The Bolts placed highest in the “fan relations” category.

Click here to see the Ultimate Standings.

Owner Jeffrey Vinik pledged to make the Lightning a “world class” organization and he has put his money where his mouth is. A $42 million renovation of the Tampa Bay Times Forum, installation of a $5 million state of the art scoreboard, a fresh new logo and color change, over $40 million in community donations and a winning team have the Lightning on the road to world class standing.

While the recognition by ESPN is certainly good for the organization, the hard work of Vinik and his staff is being felt at the box office. The average attendance in 2009-10 was 15,497 per game. Last season the Tampa Bay Times Forum sold out 20 times and the average attendance per Lightning game was 18,468.

The Tampa Bay Lightning not only is an up and coming NHL franchise, but one of the top franchises in all of professional sports.

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