What is the Value of a Team?

what_is_the_value_of_a_teamThe NFL is a seemingly unstoppable money making machine. In its entirety, the NFL is worth an estimated 9 billion dollars. This comes from ticket and concession revenues, as well as merchandise, sponsoring, and television revenue. Without the 32 teams that draw fans from all around, though, the NFL would be nothing. Favorite NFL teams are a hot topic sure to get a good debate rolling, but does popularity have any correlation to a team’s financial success?

Let’s begin by looking at the top 10 most valuable and most popular teams side by side, as ranked by Forbes and the Harris Poll:

Most Valuable                                   

Most Popular

1) Dallas Cowboys

1)  Dallas Cowboys

2) New England Patriots

2) Green Bay Packers

3)  Washington Redskins

3) Denver Broncos

4) New York Giants

4) New York Giants

5) Houston Texans

5) New England Patriots

6) New York Jets

6) Chicago Bears

7) Philadelphia Eagles

7) Pittsburg Steelers

8) Chicago Bears

8) San Francisco 49ers

9) Baltimore Ravens

9) Philadelphia Eagles

10)San Francisco 49ers

10) Miami Dolphins

For six of the most popular teams it would seem that popularity and good finances go hand in hand. Still there are four teams that are popular, yet do not grace the most valuable top 10 list. For perspective let’s look at where the four less valuable teams rank in terms of value. The Packers come in at 12, followed by the Broncos in the 13 spot, then the Steelers who sit at 14, and finally the Dolphins are 16. So even though these four teams are not in the top 10 they are still in the top half as far as value goes.

So why do the Richer Teams tend to be more popular?

Firsts of all of the wealthier teams are located in major U.S. cities with considerable populations. As a rule sports teams generally choose the most popular or largest city in their state to call home, but New York is the country’s most populous major city, Chicago is 3rd, Houston 4th, Philly 5th, and Dallas 9th. The remaining team’s cities are still within the top 30 largest on a list of nearly 300 other large US cities. Being based in such cities has huge advantages. Everyone has a soft spot for their home team, and where better to be the home team than a city of millions? It creates a broad spectrum of lifelong fans that will come to the games, buy the merchandise, and support their team in other ways. This is why generally popularity and value go hand in hand as well as why the top favorite teams are relatively consistent through the years.

There are other obvious reasons why certain teams are loved even by people who live nowhere near where the team is based. Wealthier teams can afford more in the way of advertising, press, and merchandising. Great PR campaigns can often gain band-wagoners, especially if the team is having a good season. In addition, teams with more money can afford to entice the best players to play for them, which largely contribute to the consistent performance of the more renowned teams. Everybody wants their team to be winners so in the NFL money can essentially buy a team’s success and continued popularity by giving wealthy teams the ability to choose, pretty much, whoever they want.

In the End it comes down to Location

Location gives access to vast numbers of people, who give vast amounts of money to support their team. A large or popular city ensures the enduring popularity, and therefore, enduring profit of a team. The exception to the rule on this list is the Packers. Green Bay is close to the tail end of the list of the largest US cities, coming in at number 268, granted it is still a large city, but compared to the rest of the cities that house teams on these lists, it is nothing. Surprisingly the Packers only missed the top 10 most valuable teams list by two spots. Green Bay’s success compared to its city’s size when stacked against other teams is quite impressive. When one sees the enthusiasm of Packers fans, though, it is easy to see how they earned their spot on top. Their fans are among the most dedicated in league.

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