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Despite being in a hot state, Florida's NHL cities rank high for hockey fans. Here’s why

We're in the midst of the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs, with Florida's two NHL teams experiencing very different seasons. But regardless, both ends of the state are fired up as they watch.

With the Florida Panthers winning the Eastern Conference and soon starting the NHL Final, here's personal-finance website WalletHub's report on the Best Cities for Hockey Fans in 2024, seeing two major Florida cities within the top 10.

Experts used 21 metrics to compare 76 U.S. cities in their rankings. The data set ranged from the performance level of the city’s professional and college teams to minimum season ticket prices and stadium capacity.

“Hockey is one of the most underappreciated sports in America, but its popularity is steadily growing, bringing in record-breaking revenue and attendance," Cassandra Happe, WalletHub analyst, said. "The best cities for hockey provide good opportunities to watch high-performing NHL teams in person, and sometimes NCAA teams as well. They also have some of the most dedicated fans in the country.”

Are the Florida Panthers in one of the best cities for hockey fans?

Tampa ranked eighth in the overall cities, which is not surprising with the Tampa Bay Lighting's back-to-back Stanley Cup wins and its regular appearances in the Stanley Cup playoffs.  Overall, they have three cups and a dedicated fanbase that constantly sells out its games.

During this current season, the Lighting were defeated by their in-state rival, with the Florida Panthers delivering a 6-1 win back in April.

So what's the other Florida city known for its hockey fans? It's Sunrise.

Although the Florida Panthers have yet to win a Stanley Cup, they've made it to the Stanley Cup Final twice, and are fighting for another appearance now in the 2024 playoffs. The study also highlights these statistics for the team and its home city:

  • NHL team performance - 4

  • Average ticket price - 1

  • NHL stadium capacity - 1

  • NHL fan engagement - 2

As ESPN writes, the Florida Panthers are "physical and feisty. Skilled and speedy." They are currently in the NHL Eastern Conference finals, taking on the New York Rangers for game 5 on at Madison Square Garden in New York.

What is the top U.S. city for hockey fans?

Boston Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) and Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad (5) battle for the puck in front of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) during the third period of Game 6.
Boston Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) and Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad (5) battle for the puck in front of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) during the third period of Game 6.

WalletHub determined that Boston is the best city for hockey fans. It's home to the Boston Bruins, which has the most regular season wins in NHL history.

They have won 20 division titles and have taken home six Stanley Cups, giving Boston the third-most of any city. The Boston Bruins are also the third-most valuable NHL team, worth $1.9 billion, and they have the third-most engaged fans on social media.

"Boston also does well when it comes to NCAA hockey. It has three Division 1 teams, the Boston College Eagles, Boston University Terriers, and Northeastern University Huskies. Collectively, these teams have brought Boston 10 NCAA titles, the most of any city, with the wins split between Boston College and Boston University," WalletHub wrote.

See top 10 best cities for hockey fans

Source: WalletHub

  1. Boston, Massachusetts

  2. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  3. Detroit, Michigan

  4. Denver, Colorado

  5. St. Louis, Missouri

  6. New York, New York

  7. Newark, New Jersey

  8. Tampa, Florida

  9. Raleigh, North Carolina

  10. Sunrise, Florida

Tips for hockey fans on enjoying the sport without breaking the bank

Jun 3, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Florida Panthers fans cheer in the second period against the Vegas Golden Knights in game one of the 2023 Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 3, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Florida Panthers fans cheer in the second period against the Vegas Golden Knights in game one of the 2023 Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Already a dedicated hockey fan who happens to live in Florida? Or maybe you want to get into the sport while also spending time near an ice rink (a win-win in this heat).

Wherever you fall on the spectrum, you might recognize how costly it can get to support your desired team. This includes tickets to the games to merchandise to rep your team in the daylight.

WalletHub asked experts for cost-saving strategies when indulging in their favorite sports.

"Attending minor league or college games, which often offer a high level of play at a fraction of the cost of NHL tickets, is a great option," Sports Management Clinical Assistant Professor Mike Lorenc said.

"Although I love the Detroit Red Wings and tend to see them play live multiple times a year, I can also see (and at times prioritize) high-quality hockey in a more intimate setting, at a fraction of the cost of the NHL Ticket at Toledo Walleye or historic Yost Arena hosting University of Michigan's Hockey Team."

They also recommended seeking out ticket promotions or last-minute deals as teams often reduce prices to fill seats close to game day. These can be found directly with the teams or via secondary ticketing platforms like SeatGeek and Vivid Seats.

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Florida Panthers play in Sunrise. City among top 10 for hockey fans