Minnesota is the State of Hockey, so it's only right that some of its cities feature in a new list of "America's Best Hockey Towns."
SmartAsset compiled the rankings, which combine "fan intensity" and "quality of life" to find the best towns in the country to be a hockey fan, with five Minnesota cities featuring in the top 25.
Unsurprisingly, the top 10 towns are from the northern part of the country, and all but three of them are in the Midwest.
Minnesota features on three occasions, with Mankato being the highest ranked in 6th place. It's home of the Minnesota State Mavericks, who won back-to-back WCHA tournaments and entered last year's NCAA championship as the No. 1 seeds, only to lose in the 1st round.
SmartAsset says residents of Mankato enjoy low unemployment, strong economic conditions, and access to "high-quality hockey on the ice."
St. Cloud, home of the St. Cloud State Huskies, is in 8th place, with the report noting the city is a center for outdoor hockey, having held the Granite City Pond Hockey Championship since 2012.
Bemidji sneaked into the top 10, with SmartAsset saying Bemidji State Beavers games are a "major draw" in the city, with an average home attendance of over 3,200 – which is more than half the entire student body. The city also gets kudos for having one of the nation's top women's hockey teams.
Outside the top 10 were St. Paul (12th) – home of the Minnesota Wild – and Duluth, which scored highly for online interest in hockey and attendance at UMD Bulldogs games, but didn't score as well for median income and unemployment.
In first place was Grand Forks, North Dakota, which won mainly because of the huge local support for the UND Fighting Hawks.
How were the rankings compiled?
Fan intensity sounds like a subjective concept, but SmartAsset looked at three areas that could give an indication of how hockey-mad the cities are. There are:
- Average attendance as a percentage of stadium capacity.
- Per-game attendance among local hockey teams as a percentage of total population.
- Google search traffic for the term “hockey,” as a percentage of traffic for the term “food.” This factor reflects the baseline regional interest in the sport of hockey.
This was then matched up against "quality of life" measures including violent and property crime, household income, housing costs, unemployment and dining/entertainment options.