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Great Places to Retire for Sports Fans

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Raleigh is a popular city for sports fans- Duke Blue Devils play the Virginia Tech Hokies in 2012

Raleigh is a popular city for Duke sports fans — Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

You won't see a team from Raleigh-Durham in the Super Bowl, the World Series or the NBA Finals. But in any given year you could easily catch a local squad — the Duke Blue Devils, the North Carolina Tar Heels or the North Carolina State Wolfpack — in the NCAA Final Four. The energy from those teams' fans alone ranks Raleigh as a frenzied sports town.

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And that's just the beginning of the allure for retirees. Raleigh was named the number one place in the U.S. for business and careers by Forbes magazine in March 2009 thanks largely to the scientific research and related business that spawned the area's other name: Research Triangle. Firms such as IBM, NetApp and Cisco Systems stand adjacent to life-sciences companies such as GlaxoSmithKline and BASF.

Raleigh, the state capital, is a job magnet with a diverse economy. Durham is smaller and more organized around universities and hospitals. Cary, the third point in the triangle, was named the 16th-best small city in the United States by Money magazine in 2008, based on its economy and quality of life.

A lot of people here have a college degree. The job market has drawn young adults, who dominate the metro area. It has also attracted immigrants, whose influx has made this a culturally diverse place: about 60 percent of the population is white, 20 percent is black, 8 percent is Hispanic and 4 percent is Asian.

Raleigh isn't the Old South, but vestiges of that era persist. With its Doric columns and large pediment — a style favored here in decades past — the 1932 Raleigh Memorial Auditorium (also known as the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts) looks like a Greek temple. The old building was integrated into the performing-arts center in 1990, and the complex now hosts a symphony, theatrical productions and a large central plaza.

A fair amount of outdoor play space exists in and around Raleigh-Durham, including the 5,579-acre William B. Umstead State Park and the American Tobacco Trail, which stretches 22 miles from Durham to Lake Jordan.

The number of doctors is adequate, but Raleigh is short on hospital beds for a city its size. Durham, however, is a big regional medical center. Most folks here say they exercise regularly and eat healthfully; our stress index for Raleigh is very low.

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