Big game, big numbers

Of all of the bets a person can make on football, one of the surest is that support for the Steelers among fans in our region is stronger than the support shown by fans in just about any other area of the country.

Another reminder of that came last week when WalletHub again named Pittsburgh as the best city for football fans. The Washington, D.C.-based personal-finance website compared more than 240 cities across the country that had at least a professional or college football team and made its findings based on 21 metrics.

Pittsburgh was rated first among cities with pro football teams and 14 among cities with college football teams to once again beat out Boston for the overall title.

While the Tri-State Area maintained its spot in the survey, other cities in our region did not fare so well. Cincinnati, for instance, checked in at 22nd this year, a drop from the No. 17 spot it held last year. Cleveland, meanwhile, moved up to 28th this year from 30th in 2019.

When it comes to the best cities for fans of college football, State College again is the highest-rated city in our region, coming in at 35th overall. The home of Penn State ranks 31st among fans of professional football and is the fifth-best city for fans of college football. Clemson, by the way, is the top rated city for college football fans.

Morgantown dropped to 58th on the list after having been ranked 48th last year. Youngstown dropped one spot to 65th, while Athens fell two spots to No. 79.

We all know that Ohio State fans are the most loyal in college football, but WalletHub says Columbus rates as just No. 170 overall and is only 153rd among top cities for college football fans.

This year’s survey has some other interesting numbers. For example, the Steelers and the Green Bay Packers remained tied for the top spot when it comes to having the most engaged fans. Heinz Field, meanwhile, is rated as the fourth most accessible stadium in pro football, with Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium coming in fifth. Lambeau Field in Green Bay is rated as the most accessible.

And, since success on the field is tied to demand for tickets and that demand is tied to price, it should come as no surprise that the Browns have the second-lowest average ticket price, while the Bengals have the third-lowest average price.

And, when you consider size of fan base and success on the field, the same formula holds with college football. Columbus; South Bend, Ind. (the home of Notre Dame); Columbia, S.C.; and Ann Arbor, the home of That School from Up North, are all tied for 241st among cities having the highest minimum season ticket price for college football.

¯ The release of all of that information came last week because today is Super Bowl Sunday, which we all know is about more than just football. It’s a day of food and drink and multiple wagers, friendly and otherwise.

Where just a few years ago it was difficult for fans in our area to place a legal bet on the game, residents of the Tri-State Area now have several near-by options, including the sports books at Rivers Casino in downtown Pittsburgh, the Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Washington, Pa., and Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort in Chester.

According to WalletHub, there will be $325 million legally wagered on today’s game in Miami between San Francisco and Kansas City, and that 22.7 million adults are likely to bet. The numbers also show that it’s likely you won’t win — 92 percent of adults who have bet on previous Super Bowls say they have lost money doing so.

When we’re not betting on the game, it’s likely we will be eating and drinking, the survey shows. In fact, 27 percent of Americans plan to take part in a Super Bowl party. Wings are the favorite Big Game party food, followed by pizza, nachos, dip, chili and barbecue. There will be more than 51.7 million cases of beer sold today, and we will drink 90 percent more beer today than on an average day. There will be $597 million spent on wine and $503 million spent on hard liquor.

All of those numbers add up to a big-time day built around what began as just a football game that has grown to a larger-than-life extravaganza that, oh yes, includes a football game. So sit back, grab a chicken wing or two and a beer and enjoy the game — and remember that the Steelers will head to Latrobe for training camp in a little less than six months.

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)