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The World’s Most Valuable Sports Franchises, Ranked

The World’s Most Valuable Sports Franchises, Ranked

Baseball

most valuable sports teams, New York Giants

Everyone knows that sports all over the world are big business, but the actual value of your favorite team might come as a shock; especially when taking into account how much the team was originally purchased for. Did your favorite team make the list?

25. Denver Broncos – $3,000,000,000

Owner: Pat Bowlen Trust
Year Purchased: 1984
Price Paid: $78 million

Before the late Pat Bowlen purchased the franchise in 1984, the Broncos had performed miserably. In fact, they didn’t have a winning season until 1973, and four years later qualified for the playoffs for the first time in the team’s history — although ultimately losing in the Super Bowl that year.

most valuable sports team, Denver Broncos

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Once Bowlen purchased the organization in 1984, they soon became a perennial top performer in the American Football Conference. Under his ownership, the Broncos won seven AFC championships and three Super Bowls, in 1997, 1998, and 2015. Notably, during that time, seven Broncos players were inducted into the National Football Hall of Fame, while Bowden was posthumously inducted two years after his death in 2019.

24. FC Bayern Munich – $3,000,200,000

Owner: Club Members
Year Purchased: Not applicable
Price Paid: Not applicable

Founded in 1900 by eleven football players who were not allowed to join the DFB (the German Football Association), Bayern Munich has since become the largest, and most successful football club in Germany. They’ve won 30 national titles, 20 national cups, and several European titles, including a recent European Cup win in 2020.

most valuable sports teams, FC Bayern Munich

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Technically, FC Bayern Munich is owned by its club members, who pay for membership and have the authority to vote democratically on club affairs. Although membership is available to the public, three prominent German companies, Audi, Adidas, and Allianz, also hold a significant share in the club and greatly influence its day-to-day affairs.

23. Philadelphia Eagles – $3,050,000,000

Owner: Jeffrey Lurie
Year Purchased: 1994
Price Paid: $185 million

When Philadelphia Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie, was a boy, he used to go to sleep listening to broadcasts of his hometown New England Patriots on the radio. The Boston native and his uncle, businessman Philip Smith, tried to purchase the Pats in 1993 for $150 million, but eventually dropped out of the bidding.

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One year later, Lurie purchased the Eagles for $185 million, largely backed by money from his family’s movie production business. Since taking the helm as owner, chairman, and CEO, the Eagles have made fifteen playoffs, and in 2017 won a memorable Super Bowl championship against Lurie’s childhood favorite, the New England Patriots.

22. San Francisco Giants – $3,100,000,000

Owner: Charles Johnson
Year Purchased: 1993
Price Paid: $100 million

Founded in 1883 as the New York Gothams, and renamed three years later as the New York Giants, the franchise is one of the oldest and most successful in American Sports. They have won more games than any other team in American professional sports competition.

Most valuable sports teams, San Francisco Giants

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In 1958, when the Giants moved to their current hometown of San Francisco, they were one of the first teams to play on the West Coast. For fifty years, the Giants were largely unsuccessful in San Francisco.  But, in 2001 famed outfielder Barry Bonds competed against the Cardinals’ Mark McGuire for the single season home run record. The team has since won three World Series titles, in 2010, 2012, and 2014, respectively.

21. Houston Texans – $3,100,000,000

Owner: Janice McNair
Year Purchased: 1999
Price Paid: $600 million

When businessman and philanthropist Bob McNair failed at bringing an NHL team to his hometown of Houston, Texas, he turned his attention to football. The former hometown team, the Houston Oilers, had moved to Tennessee and re-branded as the Tennessee Titans, so the time was ripe to return football to one of its biggest fan bases in the country — Texas.

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The NFL was all too happy to add another franchise into the league in order to even the number of teams at thirty-two. Officially formed in 1999, the Texans are still the youngest franchise in the NFL. That being said, they have managed to make the playoffs the past two years.

20. Boston Celtics – $3,100,000,000

Owner: Wycliffe & Irving Grousbeck, Robert Epstein, Stephen Pagliuca
Year Purchased: 2002
Price Paid: $360 million

Founded in 1946, the Boston Celtics are one of the original eight NBA teams. Boston fans are proud of the fact that their team holds the NBA’s record for the most championships and the most recorded wins, making them the most successful NBA team in history.

Jim Davis/The Boston Global/Getty Images

The legacy of the Celtics franchise is rooted in the storied teams of the 1950s that featured the NBA’s first great point guard-center duo, of Bob Cousy and Bill Russell. Reportedly, hall of fame coach Red Auerbach refused to draft Cousy when he graduated from the nearby Holy Cross University because he was too flashy.

19. New York Jets – $3,200,000,000

Owner: Johnson family
Year purchased: 2000
Price paid: $635 million

Originally called the Titans, the team that would become the New York Jets played at the famous Polo Grounds – three stadiums in Upper Manhattan just north of Central Park, that used to host the Yankees’ baseball team, and the New York Jets and Giants’ football teams.

most valuable sports teams, New York Jets

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Originally, the Titans were purchased by five businessmen, headed by Sonny Werblin, who managed some of America’s top Hollywood and sports talent. Werblin helped construct a deal to purchase the bankrupt Titans for a measly $1 million dollars in 1963, and then promptly renamed the team the Jets as they would play at Shea Stadium next to Laguardia airport.

18. Chicago Cubs – $3,200,000,000

Owner: Ricketts family
Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: $700 million

Cubs fans will remember that their team won back-to-back champions in 1907 and 1908, (becoming the first team to do so); but the latter championship would spark a 71-year drought where the Cubbies failed to win a pennant or reach a World Series Championship.

most valuable sports teams, Chicago Cubs

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The bad luck finally ran out in 2016 when the team won their first World Series in 108 years. Notably, the Cubs play in the second-oldest stadium in baseball, Wrigley Field. Nicknamed “The Friendly Confines” by hall-of-famer and “Mr. Cub,” Ernie Banks, it is known for its outfield wall that is made of brick and covered in ivy.

17. Chicago Bulls – $3,200,000,000

Owner: Jerry Reinsdorf
Year Purchased: 1985
Price Paid: $16.2 million

The Bulls were actually the third NBA franchise in the city, following the Chicago Stags, and the Chicago Packers/Zephyrs. Notable Bulls during the early years include Hall of Fame player/coach Jerry Sloan, and all-stars Reggie Theus and Orlando Woolridge. Of course one player, would eventually change the course of franchise history when he entered the league in 1984.

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With the third pick in the draft, the Chicago Bulls selected Michael Jordan, a skinny shooting guard from the University of North Carolina. Jordan would eventually lead the Bulls to six NBA championships, with the help of wingman Scottie Pippen. To date, they are the only championships the franchise has recorded.

16. Boston Red Sox – $3,300,000,000

Owner: John Henry, Thomas Werner
Year Purchased: 2002
Price Paid: $380 million

The Boston Red Sox’s World Series championship in 2018 marks the most recent title for the team. In total, they’ve played in fourteen Series championships, winning nine of them. Before 1919, the franchise had already won five, but when they traded Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees in 1918, it sparked one of the longest championship droughts in history.

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The “Curse of the Bambino” finally ended with a title win in 2004; eighty-six years after the fateful trade was made. The Boston Red Sox boast 36 former players and coaches inducted into the Hall of Fame; including Ruth, who is listed by the HOF as being affiliated with the Red Sox.

15. Washington Football Team – $3,400,000,000

Owner: Daniel Snyder
Year Purchased: 1999
Price Paid: $750 million

Formerly known as the Washington Redskins, the franchise is searching for a new name, as more broadly Americans doing some soul searching of their own, and reflecting on some of their country’s more uncomfortable history, including the plight of the original Native Americans and their various cultures.

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Aside from the name controversy, Washington’s football team has been successful throughout its history. A fun fact: in a cultural phenomenon known as the “Redskin Rule,” 17 out of 20 of the last presidential elections have resulted in wins for the incumbent party when the football team has recorded a win prior to election day.

14. Los Angeles Dodgers – $3,400,000,000

Owner: Guggenheim Baseball Management
Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: $2 billion

Before the team relocated to Los Angeles in 1958, the Dodgers represented Brooklyn and played at the nearby Ebbets field. The old stadium has since been demolished and apartments erected in its place; however, the Dodgers name has lived on despite the absence of street trolleys that pedestrians used to “dodge” in order to cross the street.

most valuable teams, Los Angeles Dodgers

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When the Dodgers beat the Yankees in the 1955 World Series, they made history not only for winning their first championship, but also for being led by two African-American players, Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella. While Jackie Robinson was the first player to break Major League Baseball’s color barrier, Campanella wasn’t far behind.

13. Chicago Bears – $3,450,000,000

Owner: McCaskey family
Year Purchased: 1920
Price Paid: $100

The Bears franchise, which was originally based out of Decatur, Illinois is one of two NFL franchises that still remains from the league’s founding in 1920. The other team is the Arizona Cardinals, who originally hailed from Chicago and then St. Louis before moving to Arizona.

most valuable sports teams, Chicago Bears

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Originally, named the Decatur Staleys after owner A.E. Stayley, he sold the team to George Halas in 1921 for $100. Today, the team is owned by the McCaskey family, headed by Virginia Halas McCaskey, in control of 80 percent of the team’s ownership. She is the eldest child of George Halas and at 97 years old, she is still the big boss, and one of only a handful of female owners in the NFL.

12. San Francisco 49ers – $3,500,000,000

Owners: Denise DeBartolo and John York
Year Purchased: 1977
Price Paid: $13 million

The name 49ers is derived from the gold prospectors who flocked to San Francisco during the Gold Rush which was just kicking off in 1849. Flash forward almost one hundred years later to 1944 and the San Francisco 49ers football team was born as the first team in what was then known as the All-America Football Conference (AAFC).

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The team won five Super Bowls between 1981 and 1994, led by Hall of Fame players Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott, and Steve Young. Their seven Super Bowl appearances ranks as the third best all-time in NFL history; which coincides with sixteen National Football Conference (NFC) championship appearances – a conference record.

11. Los Angeles Rams – $3,800,000,000

Owner: E. Stanley Kroenke
Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: $750 million

Born in Mora, Missouri, Enos Stanley Kroenke grew up sweeping the floors of his father’s lumber yard. At ten years old, he was keeping track of the books. When he married his current wife, and Walmart heiress, Ann Walton, Kroenke started developing real estate and transformed his portfolio into a multi-billion dollar empire.

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Today, he is the owner of the Los Angeles Rams, in addition to having full or partial ownership over the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Arsenal Football Club, among many other professional sports teams. During their tenure in Los Angeles, Kroenke has helped the franchise more than double in value from it’s original estimated worth of $1.45 billion.

10. Manchester United F.C – $3,900,000,000

Owner: Glazer family
Year Purchased: 2005
Price Paid: $1.4 billion

In 2019, the Manchester United football club was valued at $3.81 billion, although that number has risen by $100 million since then. Prior to being purchased in 2005 by Malcolm Glazer, the club was a publicly traded company on the London stock exchange, but was made a private enterprise by Glazer.

most valuable sports teams, Manchester United

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Seven years later, Man U would debut on the New York Stock exchange (as MANU) where it is still publicly traded; however, the Glazer family is the majority shareholder, owning over 70% of shares and maintaining an even higher voting power. Nicknamed “the Red Devils,” Manchester United has won more trophies than any other English football team.

9. New York Giants – $3,900,000,000

Owner: John Mara and Steven Tisch
Year Purchased: 1925, 1991
Price Paid: $500, $150 million

When the NFL was looking for a city to host it’s fifth franchise team, the league set their eyes on New York and turned to boxing promoter, Billy Gibson, to put up money for the team. Gibson turned the offer down, and deferred them to, Tim Mara, a known New York bookkeeper.

most valuable sports teams, New York Giants

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Mara decided he’d pay $500 to start up the team and begin signing players. Flash forward almost one century later, and Mara’s grandson John still owns the team. The Giants are the third winningest team in the NFL in terms of titles with eight, and the only team besides the Bears to have been owned by three generations of the same family.

8. Barcelona $4,020,000,000

Owner: Club members
Year Purchased: Not applicable
Price Paid: Not applicable 

FC Barcelona was founded by a group of Swiss, Spanish, English, and Catalan footballers. They are the most valuable football team in the world and the most successful in terms of revenue. Thanks to an international fan base that is one of the largest in the world, the club rakes in close to $1 billion in total sales every year.

most valuable sports teams, Barcelona

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Barcelona is known for developing some of the game’s top players. A record seven players from the team have won the FIFA Player of the Year Award; while in 2010 at the FIFA Ballon d’Or awards, all three top players in the world had come through Barcelona’s juniors program.

7. New England Patriots – $4,100,000,000

Owner: Robert Kraft
Year Purchased: 1994
Price Paid: $172 million

The Patriots were founded in 1959 in what was then the AFL, before it merged with the NFL in 1970 to form today’s modern league format. The team struggled prior to the arrival of head coach Bill Belichek, and quarterback Tom Brady in the 2000s. The team’s six Super Bowl championships all come from the Belichek-Brady era.

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But the famous coach-player duo aren’t deserving of all the Pat’s success. Current owner Robert Kraft bought the team’s stadium out of bankruptcy in 1988 and six years later purchased the whole team, preventing their move to St. Louis. Ever since Kraft took over as owner, the Patriots have sold out every home game.

6. Real Madrid – $4,240,000,000

Owner: Club Members
Year Purchased: Not applicable
Price Paid: Not applicable

Although Real Madrid may be more valuable than rivals Barcelona, they come second in terms of generating the most revenue per year at about $900,000,000. They are one of the three original clubs that founded La Liga and to date, they still hold the record for number of league titles at 39.

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When the club was founded in 1920, King Alfonso XIII bestowed his honor on the team, who pays their respect by sporting a royal crown on their uniforms. The club’s inter-country rivalries against Atletico Madrid and Barcelona are some of the most anticipated games of the year, and are known historically to be also politically-charged.

5. Golden State Warriors – $4,300,000,000

Owner: Joe Lacob, Peter Guber
Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: $450 million

Younger NBA fans are probably less familiar with the Warriors of old, who featured some of the most exciting players in NBA history. In 1958, the club drafted Wilt Chamberlain. In fact, Wilt’s first championship and famous 100-point-game came as a then-San Francisco Warrior. The team was competitive in the 70s and 80s before tapering off.

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It wasn’t until 2009 that the team started to successfully build from the ground up, selecting Steph Curry as the seventh overall pick in the draft. After struggling through repeated ankle injuries, Curry would eventually lead the team to championships in 2015, 2017, and 2018, alongside teammates Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant.

4. Los Angeles Lakers – $4,400,000,000

Owner: Jerry Buss Family Trusts, Philip Anschutz
Year Purchased: 1979, 1998
Price Paid: $20 million, $268 million

When Dr. Jerry Buss’ started dabbling in sports teams it was his vision of combining the excitement of college sports, including cheerleaders and halftime shows, with the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, and making basketball one of the most exciting tickets in town.

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The “Showtime” Lakers of the 80s featured point guard Magic Johnson, with James Worthy on the wing, and hall-of-fame center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the block. The trio won five championships together in nine years. Less than a decade later, the franchise’s move to draft Kobe Bryant alongside Shaquille O’Neal would result in another five championships between 2000 to 2010.

3. New York Knicks – $4,600,000,000

Owner: Madison Square Garden Company
Year Purchased: 1997
Price Paid: $300 million

The history of the New York Knicks began in 1946 in what was then the Basketball Association of America. The team has been historically popular in large part because of the city’s obsession with basketball. The team’s home arena Madison Square Garden is nicknamed the “Mecca of Basketball.”

most valuable sports teams, New York Knicks

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Today it is more known for its intensely critical fans, who in true New York style, don’t hold anything back. Much to their ire, the team hasn’t had much success as of late, but has some storied teams from the 70s and 80s that included the likes of Earl “the Pearl” Monroe, Walt Frazier, Willis Reed, and famous player/coaches Pat Riley and Phil Jackson.

2. New York Yankees – $5,000,000,000

Owner: Steinbrenner family
Year Purchased: 1973
Price Paid: $8.8 million

New Yorkers can rest happy knowing that their two most popular sports teams made the top five most valuable sports teams in the world. Though they’ve spent the majority of their career representing the Bronx, the Yankees actually debuted in the American League as the Baltimore Orioles, but moved two years later to New York in 1903.

most valuable sports teams, New York Yankees

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The team has won more titles than any other franchise in American sports. Notable Hall of Famers include Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Whitey Ford. The team’s overall win percentage of .529 (10,275 wins and 7,781 losses) is an MLB best.

1. Dallas Cowboys – $5,500,000,000

Owner: Jerry Jones
Year Purchased: 1989
Price Paid: $150 million

They say that everything is bigger in Texas, but it doesn’t get much bigger than professional football in The Lone Star State. The team’s most popular team, the Dallas Cowboys, have been the NFL’s most-valuable team for the past twelve years and counting. The success is credited in part to owner Jerry Jones’ combination of business savvy and playing experience.

most valuable teams, Dallas Cowboys

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Jones, who played running back at the University of Little Rock, reportedly borrowed money from Jimmy Hoffa’s teamsters in 1965 in a failed bid to purchase the San Diego Chargers. Later business ventures, which included restaurant chains and eventually a successful oil prospecting company, allowed him to purchase the Cowboys from their former owner for $150 million.

Source: Forbes, Wikipedia, NBA.com