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Charlotte named one of the top sports business cities in the nation

Sports Business Journal announced the rankings on Monday.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte's got a lot, and it's getting recognized for its environment to help sports businesses thrive.

The Queen City was named the third-best city for sports businesses, according to a ranking released on Monday by the Sports Business Journal. It came behind Dallas and New York City. The news source interviewed 100 veteran sports business executives to get their input for the rankings. 

"I think the thing that pushes Charlotte over the top, especially against some of the similarly sized markets, [is] No. 1, you have that motorsports footprint," Sports Business Journal's senior market analyst and head of content Derick Moss explained. "There are thousands of people employed in motorsports and Charlotte, from the race teams to the facility to even the NASCAR Hall of Fame. So that gives Charlotte a real advantage in terms of just the number of people employed in sports."

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Moss also pointed to ESPN and SEC Network's presence in the city that drove its high ranking. Besides the already present sports businesses, Moss also mentioned Charlotte's financial sector ties help draw sports businesses toward the city due to the potential for sponsorships.

"Bank of America obviously has a huge relationship with the Panthers in the stadium," Moss listed. "Ally with Charlotte FC's jersey. Ally has been a great corporate sponsor and has done a lot of really innovative stuff with their sponsorships. Truist has the deal with the Knights. Lending Tree has the Hornet's jersey patches. So these are all local financial institutions that are heavily invested in sports. And that means a lot to people, when they come into town, they know they can hit up four of the biggest sponsors in sports, and they're all located within just a block of each other."

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Moss commended Charlotte for its increased hotel inventory, too, which makes it more attractive to potentially host a Super Bowl and other major sporting events.

"Don't underestimate what goes on at Quail Hollow," Moss mentioned. "The PGA Championship. The Ryder Cup. Those are really big, sort of premier, marquee events. And Charlotte is winning a lot of those bids. So I think that as the city grows, and as it establishes these public-private partnerships around sports, I don't see this as something that is going to recede. I think Charlotte is going to continue to be a hub for sports."

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Another metric that came out of the research that pushed Charlotte toward the top of the list was how quickly the city is growing. Moss said their data showed Charlotte as the fourth fastest-growing region in the country. He compared Charlotte to Dallas, Texas, where many Californians have moved out there wanting lower taxes and fewer restrictions. He said Charlotte has that same feel to it.

"You have people moving in from New York," Moss said. "You have people moving in from Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cleveland. We know that because when you go to a Panthers game and those teams are playing, it's hard to tell sometimes who the home team is. But that plays into Charlotte as a destination city. This is the type of place that people move to and they stay because they like it."

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Moss said the sports facilities are top-notch, too. He pointed to the Charlotte Knights ballpark, saying it's one of the "top minor league facilities" in the country.

"Charlotte has a lot going for it, and I think they've put a lot of effort into this in the last few years, and this [ranking] is the result of that," Moss said. "It's a great environment for business. Not to mention great people great weather, great food and restaurants. It really is, just outside of sports, a great place to live."

The top 10 in the list were:

  1. Dallas
  2. New York
  3. Charlotte
  4. Minneapolis
  5. Atlanta
  6. Los Angeles
  7. Las Vegas
  8. Nashville
  9. Chicago
  10. Phoenix

The full list can be viewed on the SBJ's website.

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