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Poll finds Penguins tops among young fans

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Friday, July 15, 2011

In one week, the Penguins have surpassed 100,000 followers on Twitter and the Steelers in terms of popularity among young adults in Pennsylvania.

According to a wide-ranging survey of 545 Pennsylvanians by Public Policy Polling, the Penguins were the state's most popular team among fans ages 18 to 29 — a coveted demographic among advertisers.

"We've worked very hard to attract young fans, especially with our Student Rush, social media and youth hockey programs," said Tom McMillan, Penguins vice president of communications. "We're fortunate to be in the same city as the Steelers because they have always been our model. They are one of the iconic franchises in all of professional sports and have set a very high bar for the rest of us."

Thirty percent of all polled chose the Steelers as the most popular team in the state, followed by the Philadelphia Phillies at 22 percent. The Penguins and Eagles each received 12 percent of the vote, and the Pirates, enjoying their best season since 1992, received 6 percent.

The Raleigh, N.C.-based polling company conducted the automated telephone survey June 30 to July 5. It has a 4.2 percent margin of error. Public Policy Polling paid for the otherwise mostly political survey.

"We add sports questions into our political polls all the time to cover a different angle that might interest people," said Public Policy Polling spokesman Tom Jensen.

Among the 18-29 demographic, the Penguins received 27 percent of the vote, with the Steelers second at 22 percent.

The Steelers, who Penguins CEO/president David Morehouse has called "the best brand in pro sports," topped all teams for fans ages 30 to 45, 45 to 65, and older than 65.

The Penguins were popular on social media sites during the time of the survey because of fans' interest in the team's attempt to sign former franchise legend Jaromir Jagr before NHL free agency began July 1.

The Penguins' overall popularity has grown steadily since Sidney Crosby was drafted in 2005.

They have played before home sellouts dating to 2007 and, according to Sports Business Journal, have paced U.S.-based NHL teams in local TV ratings the past four seasons.

Also according to that publication, the Penguins finished this past season No. 1 in the United States and No. 2 overall for NHL club website hits.

The Penguins (10th) and Steelers (seventh) recently made Pittsburgh the only city with two top-10 teams in ESPN's annual Ultimate Franchise Rankings.

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