With winter snow piling up and the planned groundbreaking for a new minor league baseball stadium in Hartford only weeks away, it seemed the perfect time to turn attention to baseball – and which cities are earning notice in the minor league landscape. Among local franchises, tops on the list is Norwich, home of the Connecticut Tigers, the Class-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, and a member of the NY-Penn League. An analysis of baseball’s 159 minor league cities following the 2014 season by the website smartasset.com, ranked Norwich #6 among the Top 25 Best Minor League Towns.
The top ten were: Portland, ME; Alexandria, VA; Pearl, MS; Frisco, TX; Appleton, WI; Norwich, CT; Bowie, MD; Round Rock, TX; Hillsboro, OR; and Midland, MI. Other New England franchises earning a slot in the top 25 include Lowell, MA and Manchester, NH.
The analysis considered five “quality of life” factors in determining the top 25 baseball cities. The factors were:
- Violent Crime per 100,000 Residents
- Property Crime per 100,000 Residents
- Disposable Income – The difference between average income and the average monthly rent for a two bedroom apartment.
- Unemployment Rate
- Dining & Entertainment Establishments per 100,000 Residents
As a secondary consideration, the analysis sought to determine which cities enjoyed the best baseball experience, dubbed the “team” score. Three factors were considered:
- Team Win Percentage – During the 2014 regular season.
- Stadium Experience – A ranking of every minor league ballpark, courtesy of StadiumJourney.com, which attended a game at every single minor league stadium.
- Minor League Class – A measure from 0-50 based on the level of competition: Triple-A teams receive a 0, Double-A teams a 10, Class A Advanced a 20, and so on.
To determine America’s Best Minor League Baseball Towns, the Quality of Life Score and the Team Score were added, giving 80% weight to the former and 20% to the latter, according to the website.
Ranked at #6, the Connecticut Tigers had their best season on the field in 2014, setting a franchise record for wins and clinching a spot in the postseason for the first time in their five year franchise history. The franchise plays home games at Dodd Stadium in Norwich. The facility celebrated its 20th year in 2014.
Of Norwich, the website noted that “The Rose of New England sits at the confluence of three rivers in Connecticut’s serene southeast corner,” and “had the third highest concentration of (restaurant and entertainment) attractions of any Minor League town.”
Ranked #25, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats are owned by Art Solomon, father of New Britain Rock Cats owner Josh Solomon. The Rock Cats will be moving to Hartford from New Britain for the 2016 season, with groundbreaking on their new stadium in Hartford slated for later this month. The Colorado Rockies signed a two-year player development contract with the Rock Cats last fall, after the Minnesota Twins ended a two-decade affiliation agreement.
No state had more than three top 25 towns, and 19 different states had at least one. Texas and Virginia were the leading Minor League Baseball states, with three towns each in the top 25. SmartAsset is a financial technology company that provides data and advice related to personal finance decisions.
Artists conception of planned baseball stadium in Hartford.