When it comes to professional sports, no wonder the stakes are so high. The best sports teams are earning more than ever, with average profits of $103 million a year, according to Forbes’ annual list of the most valuable sports teams in the world.
To create the list, the Forbes team completed valuations for teams in the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, Formula One, various soccer leagues and Nascar. These valuations are based on current deals as well as those in the works.
Despite soccer’s worldwide appeal, U.S. football teams are so profitable in part because of television contracts, which brought in an average $255 million for each team in the NFL!
Here are the top 30 most-valuable sports teams from the Forbes list, in descending order.
Manchester City, $2.474 billion
Among the soccer teams on the list, this English Premier League team is the fifth most valuable. The squad won their third Premier League title last season. It also brings in the most broadcasting revenue among English soccer teams, and Etihad Stadium is in the top 10 for most profitable stadiums in Europe.
Atlanta Falcons, $2.475 billion
The Atlanta Falcons have a brand new venue, the $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which replaced the Georgia Dome. The team has lured fans into the stadium early with bargain-priced concessions. Increased concession sales have proved it was a lucrative strategy.
Baltimore Ravens, $2.5 billion
The Baltimore Ravens are a steady squad. They regularly make postseason appearances and won the Super Bowl in 2012. The football team also appeals to fans with reasonably priced food and drinks in the stadium.
Boston Celtics, $2.5 billion
The Boston Celtics are the fifth most valuable team in the NBA for a few reasons. Last summer, the Celtics brought in two All-Stars, point guard Kyrie Irving and forward Gordon Hayward. They also made a lucrative deal with General Electric. GE pays more than $7 million annually to have the company’s logo on uniforms.
Green Bay Packers, $2.55 billion
Cheeseheads love their fan-owned Green Bay Packers and help this NFL team bring in steady revenue. The Packers used their renovation of Lambeau Field and the surrounding area to pull in sponsorships for the mixed-use projects near the stadium, according to Forbes.
Miami Dolphins, $2.575 billion
The Miami Dolphins franchise is a leader in digital strategy, which has boosted ticket sales and provided a solid revenue stream. Even though the team has had a losing record in recent years, they’ve made player changes in the off-season and have plans to renovate the stadium. They also increased season-ticket prices this year.
Denver Broncos, $2.6 billion
With General Manager John Elway, the Denver Broncos have brought in notable players as well as multiple postseason runs. The Mile High City’s football team won the Super Bowl in 2016, and linebacker Von Miller is one of the top players in the league. With the naming rights to the Broncos Stadium at Mile High still up for grabs after the Sports Authority bankruptcy, the team has room to move up on the list next year.
Chicago Bulls, $2.6 billion
The Chicago Bulls are a fan favorite in the NBA. The team has the highest attendance across the NBA — a feat it has pulled off eight years in a row. The Bulls are in a rebuilding phase and have had plummeting TV ratings, but they’ve still managed to increase in value, in part thanks to an increase in courtside ticket prices, which now includes access to a new VIP club.
Philadelphia Eagles, $2.65 billion
The Philadelphia Eagles are the reigning Super Bowl champs. The team beat another team on this list, the New England Patriots, in the big game, and they’re cashing in on that success: Ticket prices and sales for this season have both increased. Forbes also reports that the team’s season ticket wait list clocks in at 40,000.
New York Jets, $2.75 billion
This New York NFL team shares MetLife Stadium with the New York Giants. The stadium brings in ample revenue for both squads, from concert and event ticket sales as well as playing host to the Super Bowl in 2014. The New York Jets also have high hopes for their new quarterback Sam Darnold, who is a draft pick from University of Southern California.
Houston Texans, $2.8 billion
Houston’s NFL team reaped the benefits of hosting Super Bowl LI last year, even though they didn’t play. The Texans franchise also gets a boost from its loyal fans, who consistently sell out the stadium on game day. The team’s high operating income is fourth in the league.
Boston Red Sox, $2.8 billion
Beantown’s baseball team is financially sound and ranks in the top 10 in the league for regular season attendance. A few lackluster years on the field have kept the team’s value from skyrocketing, but that doesn’t mean the Red Sox aren’t still cashing in. However, the team did save some money by not having to pay the Competitive Balance Tax on its payroll last year.
Chicago Bears, $2.85 billion
The McCaskey family owns the Chicago Bears, and though the NFL team has difficulty winning on the field, making money comes naturally. The Chicago Bears don’t need recent Super Bowl titles or even playoff appearances to make millions. Instead, they focus on history to maintain a loyal fanbase, benefit from the NFL’s shared revenue from national TV contracts and, as Forbes notes, keep their ticket prices high.
San Francisco Giants, $2.85 billion
Like other MLB teams, TV deals are a significant moneymaker for the San Francisco Giants. In recent years, they’ve played in the postseason multiple times and won the World Series in 2014. But their fans remained loyal even through a lousy season last year — the team’s attendance still ranked third in the MLB.
Chicago Cubs, $2.9 billion
In terms of revenue, it doesn’t seem to matter whether the Cubs win or lose. However, their long-awaited championship win in 2016 certainly helped bring in more cash for the Windy City’s beloved team, and the Cubs increased their 2017 ticket prices by 20 percent. Fans were undeterred: 99 percent of season ticket holders renewed despite the increase, and the wait list for season tickets tops 100,000.
Los Angeles Rams, $3 billion
Formerly the St. Louis Rams, this NFL team’s move back to the second-largest market in the country is paying off. Rams owner Stan Kroenke has a $2.6 billion stadium in progress that will also be a home for the Chargers when it opens in 2020. The new stadium will host the Super Bowl in 2022 while offering mixed-use projects in the neighborhood, which should bring in even more revenue.
Los Angeles Dodgers, $3 billion
The Los Angeles Dodgers are second only to the New York Yankees in the MLB when it comes to value. The Dodgers bring in cash in a few key ways. The team has a 25-year deal with Time Warner Cable and regular-season game attendance that tops the MLB. They’re also shopping for a naming-rights sponsor for their field for $12 million a year. Whether it’s on TV on in Dodgers Stadium, fans can’t seem to get enough of the Boys of Summer.
San Francisco 49ers, $3.05 billion
Owners Denise DeBartolo York and John York seem to have hit the motherlode with the San Francisco 49ers. Thanks to a large metropolitan area filled with fans and the new Levi Stadium, this Bay Area franchise is very lucrative. The team also brought in head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch to buoy future success.
Bayern Munich, $3.063 billion
Bayern Munich plays at Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany, and the team has 28 Domestic League Championships. Allianz Arena is one of the most profitable arenas in Europe and contributes to the team’s profits. Sponsorships, merchandising and similar commercial revenue sources bring in more than 40 percent of the squad’s cash.
Washington Redskins, $3.1 billion
In 1999, Dan Snyder bought this team for $800 million, which was the most expensive purchase of a sports franchise at the time. Since then, his investment has paid off with increasing revenue. The team has also scored lucrative partnerships with Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, Sprint and FedEx. But the Washington Redskins still have work to do on the field to improve their record as much as their revenue.
Golden State Warriors, $3.1 billion
The Golden State Warriors boast a winning record the last three seasons as well as two championship titles. New people on and around the team, including coach Steve Kerr and Stephen Curry, have also impacted profitability, and the team worked out a new digital strategy. It worked well, and the team’s digital revenue is now the highest in the NBA.
New York Giants, $3.3 billion
This NFL team shares profitable MetLife Stadium with the New York Jets, which is another valuable team on the list. The stadium alone has been ranked one of the top-grossing stadiums in the world. In addition to football games, it brings in millions of dollars in revenue from concert and event ticket sales. New York City and the densely populated metropolitan area around it mean many fans are always vying for tickets.
Los Angeles Lakers, $3.3 billion
Even though the Los Angeles Lakers have missed out on the postseason in recent years, they haven’t missed out on revenue. The team also lacks a superstar player, yet loyal basketball fans still believe in the former champions. In fact, the team brings in more than $100 million from local media rights deals.
New York Knicks, $3.6 billion
The NBA’s most valuable squad is reaping the rewards of $1 billion renovations to Madison Square Garden and a central location in Manhattan. The updated arena produced new revenue opportunities, including high-end suites that command annual rents of more than $1 million annually. The Knicks also bring in significant revenue from TV programming.
New England Patriots, $3.7 billion
Star quarterback Tom Brady leads this valuable NFL team. Since he was drafted in 2000, he has taken them to eight Super Bowls, winning five championships. Robert Kraft has owned the franchise since 1994, and the Kraft family is now pulling in revenue from the shopping and dining development next to the stadium as well.
New York Yankees, $4 billion
The New York Yankees are the most valuable MLB team, and the Yankees have kept that top spot for 20 years in a row. A significant portion of that revenue comes from Yankee Stadium, which had its highest per-game attendance this year since 2012. Attendance is up, as are ratings. Back in 1973, George Steinbrenner led an investment group that purchased the Yankees for $8.8 million. Now, his children own the team and treat it as a family business.
Barcelona, $4.064 billion
This professional soccer team is not far behind fellow Spanish club, Real Madrid. Barcelona’s revenue is set to increase when New Camp Nou stadium opens in four years. The stadium will be sustainable and offer open space for locals as well. In the meantime, fans are happy to cheer on stars like Lionel Messi in the historic Camp Nou.
Real Madrid, $4.09 billion
This lucrative Spanish soccer team excels at earning money. The footballers impress fans with their Champions League play on the field and bring in significant revenue. The team earned $102 million during the 2017 and 2018 season with superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, but he has since been sold to another club.
Manchester United, $4.123 billion
The Glazer family owns this English Premier League team. It is the most valuable professional soccer team, pulling in $354 million in commercial revenue. The team got a boost from Uefa after winning the Europa League against Ajax. They have 20 domestic league championships.
Dallas Cowboys, $4.8 billion
Jerry Jones owns “America’s Team,” which also has the highest revenue ($840 million) and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of any franchise. The team has topped the Forbes list of NFL teams for 12 years. AT&T Stadium, which opened in 2009, is a major contributing factor. It generates more than $100 million a year from luxury suites and club seating, as well as $150 million from sponsors.