After two seasons out of the Top 10, the Green Bay Packers are back among the elite franchises in pro sports, according to ESPN The Magazine's 'Ultimate Standings.'
The annual rankings, based on a comprehensive fan satisfaction survey, ranks the Packers fourth among all major professional sports organizations in 2008 and second in the NFL to the Indianapolis Colts, the sports world's top-ranked franchise.
"It's great to see the Packers again ranked as one of the top sports franchises," said Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy. "Among our top goals at the Packers are to put a winning team on the field and provide the fans with an outstanding experience at Lambeau Field, both on game day and other days they may visit. We're pleased to see the fans responding to the survey have recognized the organization's efforts, and the unique and special nature of this club. It remains one of pro sports' great stories."
The NBA's San Antonio Spurs and New Orleans Hornets are second and third overall, respectively, while the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars also cracked the Top 10 at No. 9. The top-rated NHL franchise is the Anaheim Ducks (fifth overall), while the top Major League Baseball club is the Los Angeles Angels (sixth overall).
The Packers ranked No. 1 overall in the first year of the 'Ultimate Standings' back in 2003, and remained in the Top 10 by finishing No. 3 and No. 8 in 2004 and 2005, respectively. The team dropped to No. 30 in 2006 and rose back to No. 23 in 2007 before hitting No. 4 this year.
The survey gets fan input in eight different categories, and the Packers ranked in the Top 10 in five of those, including No. 1 in stadium experience, noted as friendliness of environment and quality of game-day promotions. Other Top-10 rankings included No. 2 in ownership (honesty; loyalty to players and city), No. 2 in fan relations (ease of access to players, coaches and management), No. 5 in players (effort on the field, likeability off it), and No. 9 in title track (titles already won or expected, soon).
The Packers also ranked No. 12 for affordability (price of tickets, parking and concessions), No. 19 for coaching (strong on-field leadership) and No. 23 in 'bang for the buck' (wins over the past three years per revenues directly from fans).
In summing up the Packers' status, Jason Catania of espnthemag.com writes, "While there's Tundra tradition galore within Lambeau's walls, including a re-creation of Vince Lombardi's office in the stadium's (Hall of Fame), fans also like new additions such as the Miller Lite End Zone, which holds 300 fans and features great views, short lines for suds and, get this, heaters for cold-weather games. Which no doubt came in handy last season when the Pack played deep into the playoffs for Brett Favre's last hurrah. Fitting that the Packers come in at No. 4 on our list. How's that for cheesey?"
To check out the entire survey, click here.