Forbes Releases List of Most Valuable Sports Franchises

By Matt Ambrose,
Sports Business Writer

Forbes released their rankings of the most valuable sports franchises this past week, and for the second year in a row, the Dallas Cowboys have topped the list.

The Cowboys are worth an estimated $4.2 billion, the only team on the list that is worth over $4 billion. In order to make the list, a team must be worth at least $3 billion.

The New York Yankees took the second spot on the list, valued at $3.7 billion. The Yankees are the most successful team in MLB history, with their 27 World Series titles, and consistently winning games and championships raises team worth significantly.

A team that proves this notion is the Golden State Warriors, who did not crack the top-10, but have seen their worth grow exponentially since the dawn of the decade. In 2011, the Warriors were valued at $360 million. At the end of the 2017 season, after capturing their second title in three seasons, their value had risen all the way up to $2.6 billion, a 622% increase from just six years prior.

The next three teams on the list are all from the European soccer ranks, as Manchester United checks in at number three while Real Madrid and FC Barcelona sit fourth and fifth, respectively. Manchester United and Real Madrid both topped the list for three consecutive years each earlier in the decade, with Man-U’s run lasting from 2010-2012 with Real Madrid being the kings from 2013-2015 before being knocked off by the Cowboys each of the last two seasons.

Two NBA and three NFL teams round out the list, as the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers sit seventh and ninth, respectively, while the New England Patriots, New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers sit sixth, eighth and 10th, respectively.

Team values are rising at an historic rate, with 86 teams in professional sports now being worth over $1 billion. Forbes says that this is due to, “soaring TV contracts for the rising franchise values, as well as labor deals with players that almost ensure profitability barring outrageous spending on payroll by an owner.”

Winning, as mentioned earlier, plays a major role in increasing the value of a team, but it doesn’t always come down to that. Sometimes, there are other factors that play into it. A team like the New York Knicks, who have had their fair share of struggles over the past several seasons, have still cracked the top-10 in each of the last three years.

“Market size, fan appeal, sport economics, international cross-over potential, profit and history” are among the factors that make a team valuable,” according to Visual Capitalist.
Compared to last year’s list, the Cowboys, as well as the Patriots, Knicks and 49ers, all remained in the same places in the top-10. The Yankees rose two spots, while Real Madrid fell three spots. The Washington Redskins and Los Angeles Dodgers, who were in the eighth and ninth spots last year, did not make the cut this year. The Dodgers are left off the list for the first time since 2011, while the Redskins, who have been a constant on this list for years, saw their steady decline in team value finally take them off this list.
The NFL is the league that has the most worth to it. In 2012, the Cowboys were the only team worth $2 billion. Nowadays, all but five of the 32 teams in the NFL are worth more than $2 billion.

This makes sense, as the NFL essentially dominates a day of the week on the calendar for five months. Add in the TV deals, and the teams are swimming in money.

With the Cowboys playing in a football hotbed like Dallas, it’s no surprise to see them at the top of this list.


A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, September 26th print edition.

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