The Chicago Blackhawks are moving up. The 2010 Stanley Cup champions are ranked an impressive 16th in ESPN The Magazine's just-released eighth annual Ultimate Standings. The rankings measure how much all NHL, MLB, NBA and NFL professional sports franchises give back to their respective fans in exchange for the time, money and emotion the fans invest in the teams. The rankings are based on several factors ranging from bang for the buck, team ownership honesty and loyalty and ticket affordability to coaching and the stadium experience.
The Hawks' 16th place standing in the new list represents a swift rise for the team through the rankings, which include some 122 professional sports franchises. As recently as three years ago, the Hawks were near the bottom of the list in 118th place. The strong showing is no doubt due in large part to the team's re-ignited love affair with Chicago. That has come about as a result of several smart marketing moves -- not least of which was the decision to televise all Hawks' game. The team's undeniable skill, their humility and determination to bring home the Stanley Cup also contributed to building a strong bond with a growing fan base.
Other Chicago pro sports teams did not fare so well in the 2010 Ultimate Standings. After the Hawks, the next highest-ranked local team was the Chicago White Sox in 73rd place. The Chicago Bulls could do no better than 85th place, with the Chicago Bears, somewhat surprisingly, just behind the Bulls in 86th place. The Chicago Cubs had the worst showing of all local teams, ranking 100th on the list.