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America's Worst Cities for NFL Fans

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Sure Seattle crushed Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII, but football enthusiasts who move to the Seahawks' hometown will find some of the NFL's least-loyal fans there, two Emory University experts say.

"You definitely see a decrease in the number of people coming to [Seahawks] games at times when the team's performance has gone down," says Emory researcher Manish Tripathi, who recently conducted a study with colleague Michael Lewis that ranked Seattle fans 23rd among those of the NFL's 32 teams.

Tripathi and Lewis, two sports-marketing experts at Emory's Goizueta School of Business, analyzed fan loyalty by measuring how much money each team took in from ticket sales between 2002 and 2012 after adjusting for variations between cities. For instance, the pair took each team's win/loss record and stadium size into account.

Tripathi says franchises with the most-loyal fans don't always have the greatest records, but historically had at least one string of championship seasons that diehard supporters still wax nostalgic about.

By contrast, NFL cities with weak fan bases generally have few good times for fans to fondly recall, as well as lots of "transplant" residents who grew up somewhere else and didn't root for home team.

Tripathi adds that many communities with low fan loyalty also have warm climates and top pro teams in other sports vying for residents' attention.

So the professor says true football fans might want to avoid moving to cities that sit at the bottom of the study's rankings. "If you like a packed house and fans putting their money where their mouths are and buying tickets to games, you probably [won't] enjoy these places," Tripathi says.

That said, the expert admits that NFL cities with weak fan bases do often offer one advantage: low ticket prices.

"You might not see people showing up at games in these cities through thick and thin, but you're often able to enjoy a quality football product at a lower ticket price," Tripathi says.

Read on to check out the five NFL cities at the bottom of the Emory professors' rankings, as well as some details about each community's housing market.

Tripathi and Lewis compiled their rundown by projecting what ticket revenues each team should have had the 2002-12 period and comparing that to estimated actual sales.

Teams with the highest ticket sales above expected levels topped the professors' rankings, while those with the lowest revenues relative to predicted amounts placed at the bottom.

To account for differences between markets, Lewis and Tripathi factored in each franchise's stadium capacity, average ticket price and win/loss record during the period studied. The pair also adjusted results to account for variations in each metro area's local population and median-income levels.

Home-price figures refer to market tracker Zillow.com's estimates of median values for all properties (not just those up for sale) in a given metro area as of December 2013, the latest month with data available.

No. 5 worst city for loyal NFL fans: Detroit

Detroit Lions fans have had little to roar about in recent years.

That's because the team finished below .500 in 10 of the 11 seasons Tripathi and Lewis studied, including a humiliating 0-16 record in 2008. Detroit did manage to have a winning season and make the playoffs in 2011, but New Orleans eliminated the Lions in the first round.

Tripathi says that when you add in the fact that the Lions have never reached the Super Bowl and Detroit has long suffered from a weak economy, it's not surprising the team has substandard ticket revenues.

"People either won't show up or won't pay much to watch a poor product," he says.

Still interested in moving there? Zillow says the median Detroit home is worth $100,300. Click here to check out the roughly 14,000 local properties the site lists as for sale.

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