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Ultimate Standings 2009: No. 6

7/1/2009

Last Year's Rank: 45
Title Track: 47
Ownership: 5
Coaching: 10
Players: 12
Fan Relations: 11
Affordability: 31
Stadium Experience: 15
Bang for the Buck: 11

The same year that America swore in an African-American president, DC's hockey team enjoyed its own dramatic leap: a 39-spot move into our Top 10. Give assists to Washington's first conference semi since 1998, the emergence of 2008 Hart winner Alex Ovechkin as the league's top attraction and the introduction of the Red Rockers, a classy spirit squad that greets fans before every home game. That hat trick ensured that regardless of whether your eyes were on the ice or in the stands, the view was terrific (the Verizon Center's grade climbed 63 places). And all for a fair price: Ticket packages starting at $35 per included a hat, a large pizza and Washington Mystics ticket vouchers. Those initiatives scored as paid attendance skyrocketed 37% by midseason -- the second largest spike in the league -- and local TV ratings jumped 140%. One proud recipient of all this love was ├╝ber-accessible owner Ted Leonsis, who blogged on Ted's Take: "Change has come. It is like oxygen, get used to it." Hey, he sounds just like 44!