Columbia is the 60th best sports city in the United States and Canada, according to the Sporting News. That ranking is up 28 spots from a year ago, when the city held the No. 88 position.
Boston tops the list of 400 cities and towns for the third time in the last five years and for the fourth time since the rankings began.
Columbia is the third of the five ranked cities in Missouri, twenty spots behind No. 40 St. Louis and five places below No. 55 Kansas City. Springfield and Cape Girardeau round out the Missouri cities at No. 154 and No. 249 respectively.
The Sporting News began compiling the rankings in 1993, and revamped the ranking process in 1996 by expanding and refining the criteria.
Those criteria include a variety of factors ranging from markers of success such as win-loss record and championships to ticket availability and "fan fervor".
Bob Hille is Sporting News chief of correspondents, and has coordinated the rankings since the process was changed 12 years ago. Hille credits Columbia's ascent to the recent success of the MU football program.
"Columbia means the Tigers, and right now the Tigers mean football," Hille said in an e-mail. "The team is back on the national stage, and its players are national award contenders."
Marquee value of athletes is another one of the list's criteria, and the Tigers boast some of the better-known players in the nation.
Along with Chase Daniel's trip to New York as a finalist for last year's Heisman Trophy, Jeremy Maclin is also on many Heisman watch lists. Both Daniel and Maclin, along with tight end Chase Coffman, are on watch lists for the Maxwell Award for college football's most outstanding player.
MU football has done its part to put Columbia fourth among cities with Big 12 schools, all of which are ranked in the top 120.
Ahead of Columbia are Lawrence, Kan. (No. 14), Austin, Texas (No. 31), Norman, Okla. (47) and Boulder, Colo. (No. 7), which is included with the Denver ranking.
Full coverage of this year's list, including the complete rankings, will be available in the October 13 issue of Sporting News.