The results are in and the Glass City is a Top 15 minor league market. When all of the numbers were tabulated, Toledo came out near the top of a recent list of the country's top minor league markets, according to Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal magazine.
Toledo received the ranking based on the performance of the Toledo Mud Hens (Triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers) and the Toledo Walleye (Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings). The Mud Hens play at Fifth Third Field. The 8,943 seat downtown jewel is celebrating it's tenth year as the home of the Hens. On October 15, the Walleye will begin their third season at the 7,431 seat Huntington Center. Located one block north of Fifth Third Field, the arena is managed by SMG, the world-wide leader in convention and entertainment venue management.
Mike Miller, Chairman of the Board for both the Mud Hens and Walleye said, "This announcement is wonderful news for Toledo and all of Northwest Ohio. We would like to thank the Lucas County Commissioners, Fifth Third Bank, and Huntington Bank for showing the vision and support to elevate these teams to where they are today. They had the foresight to realize the investment in the community would pay off and they have been proven correct many times over."
Toledo Mud Hens and Walleye General Manager, Joe Napoli added, "This is yet another feather in the cap for the Toledo region. What a wonderful honor to be considered one of the top minor league markets in the country. We have top notch facilities, terrific support from our corporate partners, and the best fans in the country. All of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan should celebrate this news. It is something we can all be proud of."
"The Mud Hens organization is an integral part of the Greater Toledo area on a year-round basis," said Mud Hens Board Member Shirley Timonere. "Participation in community charity benefits, providing family-friendly ballpark and hockey venues, and a genuine interest in enhancing the community, have brought the recognition which is well-deserved."
"Undoubtedly, two of the crown jewels in our community are the Toledo Mud Hens and Toledo Walleye," said Dean Monske, President and CEO of the Regional Growth Partnership. "Growing communities are ones that adequately address quality of life issues, and our minor league sports teams are assets which enhance our region. This recognition for Toledo is certainly something the RGP can use in selling the benefits of living and working in this region."
The rankings were formed with the following criteria in mind:
**Total sports attendance over the past five years in Toledo was 4 percent higher than its actual population
- Toledo ranked 50th out of 241 markets
- The Mud Hens and the Walleye have attracted over six millions fans to downtown Toledo since 2002
**Overall percent of seats filled indexed against total five-year population
- Toledo ranked 22nd out of 241
**Franchise tenure in the city
- Toledo ranked 22nd out of 241
- Toledo Mud Hens have been playing since 1896 (professional baseball in Toledo dates back to 1883)
- Toledo Walleye began in 2009 (professional hockey in Toledo dates back to 1947)
**Attendance indexed against the market's unemployment rate
- Toledo ranked 27th out of 241
**Five-year attendance change indexed against each market's total per capita income
- Toledo ranked 16th out of 241
The Top 15 Minor League Markets (overall score):
1. Hershey-Harrisburg, PA (100.00)
2. San Bernardino County, CA (80.82)
3. Providence-Pawtucket, RI (76.20)
4. Reading, PA (74.23)
5. Portland, ME (73.83)
6. Syracuse, NY (73.46)
7. Charleston, SC (72.07)
8. Modesto, CA (71.55)
9. Idaho Falls, ID (70.55)
10. Spokane, WA (69.51)
11. Visalia, CA (69.31)
12. Springfield, MA (68.99)
13. TOLEDO, OH (66.03)
14. Tacoma, WA (65.94)
15. Savannah, GA (65.71)
**The complete rankings can be found online here.