You know football season is on the way when Forbes comes out with its annual rankings of the value of franchises. For the first time, the Vikings are valued at over $1 billion ($1.007 billion to be exact) and have made the climb up the valuation charts like few franchises.
Ironically, after the rants of Donald Sterling forced the hand of the NBA to get rid of him on a quit-claim sale, the fact the Los Angeles Clippers sold for $2 billion – despite having a valuation of about $800 million, the question of the perceived value and the actual price somebody could receive for selling a franchise has come into question.
Shockingly (to some) the most valuable sports franchises aren’t in the NFL or even in the United States. The top three franchise values belong to soccer teams – Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United – making Spain the place to own a franchise worth more than $3 billion.
That’s not to say that the NFL doesn’t dominate the list. Of the top 50 valued franchises, 30 of them were NFL teams – only Jacksonville and Oakland weren’t ranked in the top 50. To the surprise of nobody, the Dallas Cowboys remain the most valuable NFL franchise at $2.3 billion.
Of the top 50 franchise values, 30 were from the NFL, six were from soccer, six were from Major League Baseball (led by the New York Yankees at $2.5 billion), four are from the NBA (led by the New York Knicks at $1.4 billion) with one each from the NHL (Toronto Maple Leafs) and auto racing (Ferrari).
Here is the complete list of the top-50 valuations of franchises.
1. Real Madrid, $3.44 billion
2. Barcelona, $3.2 billion
3. Manchester United, $2.81 billion
4. New York Yankees, $2.5 billion
5. Dallas Cowboys, $2.3 billion
6. Los Angeles Dodgers, $2 billion
7. Bayern Munich, $1.85 billion
8. New England Patriots, $1.8 billion
9. Washington Redskins, $1.7 billion
10. New York Giants, $1.55 billion
11. Boston Red Sox, $1.5 billion
12. Houston Texans, $1.45 billion
13. New York Knicks, $1.4 billion
14. New York Jets, $1.38 billion
15. Los Angeles Lakers, $1.35 billion
16. Arsenal, $1.33 billion
17. Philadelphia Eagles, $1.31 billion
18. Chicago Bears, $1.25 billion
19. Baltimore Ravens, $1.23 billion
20. San Francisco 49ers, $1.22 billion
21. Chicago Cubs, $1.2 billion
22. Ferrari Race Group, $1.2 billion
23. Indianapolis Colts, $1.2 billion
24. Green Bay Packers, $1.18 billion
25. Denver Broncos, $1.16 billion
26. Toronto Maple Leafs, $1.15 billion
27. Pittsburgh Steelers, $1.12 billion
28. Seattle Seahawks, $1.08 billion
29. Miami Dolphins, $1.07 billion
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, $1.07 billion
31. Carolina Panthers, $1.06 billion
32. Tennessee Titans, $1.06 billion
33. Kansas City Chiefs, $1.01 billion
34. Minnesota Vikings, $1.01 billion
35. Cleveland Browns, $1.01 billion
36. New Orleans Saints, $1 billion
37. Chicago Bulls, $1 billion
38. San Francisco Giants, $1 billion
39. Philadelphia Phillies, $975 million
40. Arizona Cardinals, $961 million
41. San Diego Chargers, $949 million
42. Atlanta Falcons, $933 million
43. Cincinnati Bengals, $924 million
44. Detroit Lions, $900 million
45. Boston Celtics, $875 million
46. St. Louis Rams, $875 million
47. Buffalo Bills, $870 million
48. Chelsea, $867 million
49. Manchester City, $863 million
50. AC Milan, $856 million
Prior to getting their new stadium, the Vikings had a hard time cracking the top-50 list because, like Oakland and Jacksonville, they were playing in a substandard stadium and their upside limit of revenue possibilities had a hard ceiling. Thanks to the construction of the new Vikings stadium, there is the potential for the Vikings to climb higher than their current ranking at 21st among NFL franchises.
But with their recent climb in franchise valuation, the Vikings passed teams like St. Louis, Detroit, Cincinnati, Atlanta, San Diego, Atlanta, New Orleans and Cleveland in the pecking order of NFL franchises. Their big jump in valuation came when they secured legislation approving a new stadium in 2012, and last year the Vikings were valued at $975 million.
Much like Sterling and the Clippers taught owners what franchises are actually worth when they hit the open market, the Vikings have found themselves moving their way up the charts themselves even though the Wilfs have no intention of selling anytime soon. Perhaps when the new stadium opens, the valuation of the Vikings will continue to climb as they start reaping the benefits of finally have a state-of-the-art facility.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
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