Winston-Salem Named Top-10 minor league sports market

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.- On Monday, September 23 Sports Business Journal, a nationally-recognized publication, named Winston-Salem as the ninth-best minor-league sports market in the United States.

Winston-Salem is also the highest-ranked minor-league sports market in the state of North Carolina. Greensboro/High Point cracked the top-25 as the 18thranked market.

“Our owners and our league knew that this was a great minor-league sports market. With the value of product that the Thunderbirds and the Dash produce, Winston-Salem is blessed to have two great organizations,” said Thunderbirds general manager Jimmy Milliken.

Even with the handicap of Interstate 40 Business closing until the spring of 2020, the jewel of the Triad sparkles brightly in the treasure trove of North Carolina minor-league sports.

“We’re not going to wave the white flag,” said C.J. Johnson, president of the Winston-Salem Dash.

The Dash held a 40 Business Closure Party the night before the highway closed including 40-cent concessions at BB&T Ballpark.

The class-A-Advance affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, the Dash have averaged 4,500 fans per game in each season since the inception of the club in 2010. Winston-Salem led all of class-A advanced baseball in attendance for the third straight season this year.

However, one of the biggest jumps in Winston-Salem’s ranking has been the unprecedented success of the Federal Prospects Hockey League’s Carolina Thunderbirds.

Carolina led the league in average attendance last season, bringing in an average of 2,700 patrons per game, that number is 500 more than what the team averaged in its inaugural campaign of 2017.

The Thunderbirds have sold nearly 1,300 season tickets for the 2019-2020 season, the highest total in the FPHL.

After the 2018-2019 season culminated in a championship for the Thunderbirds, the city’s first title in hockey in 30 years, Carolina is setting the pace for the growth of the FPHL as a league and for the growth of hockey in the state.

Winston-Salem is the only single-A hockey market (FPHL and SPHL) market to crack the top-10.

The Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex nets 500,000 patrons every year for events including hockey. BB&T Ballpark is bringing in over one-million people per year as Winston-Salem’s two largest professional sports venues bring in over one-and-a-half million people every year.

Last season, Winston-Salem was ranked 16thon the Sports Business Journal’s list and this is the first time the city has cracked the top-10.

The top-10 markets in order are as follows: Akron, Ohio; Winston-Salem, N.C.; Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Penn.; Tulsa, Okla.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Des Moines, Iowa; Toledo, Ohio; Charleston, S.C.; Greenville, S.C.; and Grand Rapids, Mich.

You can read the article about Winston-Salem by clicking here.