high risk credit cards td canada trust visa debit security code american express delta credit card offers iphone credit card case best buy virgin credit card log on black card points natwest purple discovery credit card apply for visa credit card no credit history best credit card to get for someone with no credit citibank credit card settlement process in india apply mbna credit card canada rate credit card reward programs payday loan online instant short term cash loans online best canadian credit cards for travel rewards citi government travel credit card can credit card companies sue you in pa credit card fraud online orders top 10 best payday loan lenders 0 interest credit cards purchases free balance transfer credit card canada comments amazon credit card review apply citibank credit card online india how to bypass credit card verification paypal cash advance instant approval online hdfc instant credit card on fd credit card debt mortgage best airline credit cards for fair credit walmart canada credit card apply united cash loans online unsecured credit cards for bad credit compare citibank and standard chartered credit card best airline rewards credit cards best credit cards after filing bankruptcy credit limit calculator for hdfc credit card best prepaid canadian credit cards best iphone credit card app 2011 fast easy cash loans for unemployed best credit card advice hdfc credit card payment online easiest department store credit cards for bad credit consumer reports best credit card balance transfers visa credit cards canada td bank visa debit card balance how do i get a credit card with no credit credit card ratings hsbc international credit card charges credit card fees for business owners chevron texaco credit card login page costco american express platinum card benefits how to cancel a chase credit card online credit cards cash back or points hsbc credit card business reply envelope best reward travel credit card canada credit card calculator excel uk credit card finder google aqua credit card payment no fee credit cards with travel rewards is magnum cash advance legal in ohio lowest rate credit cards 2012 real credit card numbers that work with security code and expiration date 2012 what is the best credit card to have with no credit how do you use a manual credit card machine starwood credit card standard chartered credit card online payment india citibank credit card application best types of credit cards to get best student credit cards no credit bank of america credit card 5 cash back chase credit card fraud call hdfc bank credit cards redeem reward points visa cards canada post payday loans lenders only paypal prepaid mastercard uk orchard bank credit card payments online best 0 credit card offers 2012 best credit cards to have with fair credit free credit score check uk no credit card instant online loans bad credit canadian low interest rate credit cards compare hdfc gold and titanium credit card how to get an american express platinum card bank of america credit card cash advance transaction fee disputing international credit card charges discount payday advance loans standard chartered credit card personal loan prepaid visa debit cards online us credit card number for kindle fire new payday lenders hdfc credit card apply online in jaipur tj maxx credit card information stolen sign up for credit card with no credit secure credit card holder sbi online credit card rewards where can i use my gap visa credit card united chase credit card cash advance credit card number and security code 2013 free credit card bin number search hdfc credit card charges abroad chase credit card credit limit increase free visa credit card details 2012 best visa travel rewards card 0 interest rate credit card offer credit card for college students with no job rewards cards uk home depot canada credit card application alaska air miles credit card consolidate credit cards into one loan apply for credit card canada online barclays credit card ppi phone number credit card processing rates explained platinum credit card hdfc minimum limit free real visa credit card numbers credit card fraud for dummies watch online credit card information security policy template hack visa credit card 2011 updated sbi credit card online application virtual credit card generator post office platinum card online credit card travel promotion gap credit card services login check best buy credit card application can i get a cash advance on my usaa credit card sears mastercard payment bank of america credit card business login how to get credit card company to increase limit accepting credit cards payments over the phone how to apply credit card in icici jcpenney credit card login what is cash advance fee td usaa credit card cash advance rate easiest credit card to get in canada with bad credit super premium credit cards australia credit card helpline no fake credit card number and cvv visa debit card application form pdf can international students apply for credit cards using lloyds tsb platinum credit card abroad data mining techniques for credit card fraud detection bad credit loans online no brokers credit card for no credit score prepaid visa cards with no fees canada anz credit card balance transfer application united credit card offer 60000 us bank secured credit card phone number how to redeem my icici bank credit card points best 0 apr credit cards canada best visa credit cards with rewards how to redeem axis bank credit card points hdfc credit card emi offer credit suisse internship credit card rewards programs hdfc credit card toll free number from mobile free credit card apps for iphone freedom credit card review payday loan lender guaranteed approval hsbc credit card charges abroad zero percent balance transfer credit cards 2012 pay icici credit card bill online through debit card singapore credit cards comparison 2011 how to become a credit card merchant global credit card fraud statistics where do i mail my us bank credit card payment best value credit cards 2013 0 credit card transfer offers barclays lost credit card usa citi corporate credit cards uk mastercard amazon 10 off 100 how to get your first credit card 2011 iphone credit card processing lowest rate click to pay icici bank credit cards first premier credit card online login credit card travel miles blog view axis bank credit card statement paypal virtual credit card download wells fargo credit card rewards review barclays apple credit card phone number best credit cards 2013 for students credit cards explained uk pre approved credit card opt out stores that offer cashback on credit cards online payday loans direct lenders no teletrack how to use black cardamom credit cards with gas and grocery rewards tesco clubcard credit card minimum payment free master credit card numbers best credit card to get in canada no credit credit cards visa citibank online credit card generator discover student credit cards review natwest online credit card disappeared online sbi credit card registration best credit card offer april 2013 when was the first credit card invented high acceptance payday loan lenders only credit cards with cashback rewards best credit card bad credit unsecured home loan with bad credit score airline credit cards comparison top credit cards usa best credit card company for students starwood preferred guest credit card business what store credit cards can i get after bankruptcy cancel pre approved credit card offers apply hsbc credit card online singapore suze orman best secured credit card do aib do a visa debit card american first cash advance apply for first credit card with no credit black cardamom powder small business credit cards for bad credit chase generate virtual credit card first horizon credit card online online payday loans for bad credit direct lenders chase credit card services jobs prepaid credit cards walmart paypal credit score for best buy credit card approval can add funds paypal credit card prepaid mastercard uk iphone credit card payments australia how to use credit card machine for business credit card with no credit check uk td gold elite visa cash back staples business credit card account bad credit loan companies online can a credit card company garnish your wages in california barclays credit card apply in hyderabad discover bank credit card phone number credit card processing companies uk cash loans today with no bank account list of payday lenders australia usaa credit card travel notification what are the benefits and disadvantages to the small business of accepting credit cards unsecured credit cards for bad credit 2013 top 50 credit cards quick and easy online loans in south africa discover student credit card bad credit low interest credit card with no balance transfer fee how to make standard chartered credit card online payment best gas credit card to get payday loans direct lenders uk no credit check how to activate sbi platinum credit card how to apply for visa credit card philippines hugo boss black credit card holder credit card comparison frequent flyer points credit card in canada for international students prepaid credit card in canada cibc visa credit card online banking home depot credit card canada login apply for credit cards with bad credit history how to pay icici credit card payment online hdfc online credit card payment through debit card easy credit cards to apply for online free prepaid visa card sears credit card application status phone number irs credit limit worksheet 2011 icici platinum credit card charges citibank credit card rewards malaysia credit cards visa mastercard how to transfer money from hdfc master credit card to bank account state employees credit union dillards credit card going over credit limit barclaycard credit card cash advance calculator chase visa credit card for students credit score range for best buy credit card does it hurt your credit to apply for multiple credit cards pay walmart credit card bill online american express credit card with no annual fee in india hdfc credit card loan preclosure longest interest free credit cards on purchases paying off credit card debt in full credit score how do criminals get credit card numbers credit card verification process india bank of america credit card 0 apr balance transfer does paypal accept visa electron debit cards credit card holder leather citibank college student credit card sbi credit card eligibility chennai bank of america debit and credit cards post office credit card payment address credit card debt reduction calculator for excel credit card bin search australia 5 best credit cards for travel american express platinum cashback credit card travel insurance excel formula to calculate monthly credit card interest credit card balance transfer calculator compare hsbc credit card apply online in india best credit card to get cash advance comparing credit cards worksheet citibank credit card cash advance rate credit card report date best no fee credit card canada bpi credit cards application status nationwide credit card balance transfer to current account alaska airlines credit card canada login new look black cropped cardigan no credit check credit cards no deposit holiday gas station credit card offers credit card credit score needed monthly interest rate credit card calculator citibank credit card no annual fee singapore 0 interest credit cards balance transfers 24 months easy to get credit cards canada fast cash online loans how does credit card debt consolidation work grand hyatt credit card authorization form capital one credit cards banking auto loans checking fast online payday loans best credit card points program canada 2011 bank of america credit card settlement letter belk credit card payment options rci bank of america credit card login how do you change your credit card details on ebay can i use my sears credit card at kmart bank of america merchant services credit card rates rbc cash back visa redeem how do credit card companies make money on 0 top secured credit cards for bad credit best visa card brandsmart usa credit card login credit card protection plan review analysis on credit card fraud detection methods project - java 0 balance transfer credit card for poor credit rating reputable credit card debt settlement companies american express no annual fee credit card i want to apply for a hsbc credit card hdfc credit card limit enhancement online credit cards with no interest and no balance transfer fees cash back credit card malaysia 2013 apply dbs debit visa card credit card authorization form word template how do i apply for a visa credit card online online merchant credit card processing companies virgin business credit card uk uk credit card number direct payday advance loans credit cards for college students with cosigner easiest bad credit credit card get variable apr credit card calculator credit cards for bad credit no credit check emerald td visa card gift visa card india how will applying for a new credit card affect my credit score anz debit visa card nz bank of america power rewards visa signature card compare icici bank credit cards how long does it take to get credit card in mail free virtual visa credit cards when do chase credit card payments post bank of america credit card uk contact sears mastercard credit card review hsbc credit card online application form philippines credit cards with 0 apr and rewards online loan lenders uk who has the most secure credit card cash back visa card apply for mastercard free what to know when applying for your first credit card barclays premier credit card limit annual gold card south west trains instant online loans no credit check compare payday lenders not brokers how to buy a house with bad credit and low income citibank corporate credit card statement delta mastercard credit card canada kohls credit card payments address icici credit card offers on jewellery credit card calculator payoff date free prepaid visa debit cards best airmiles credit cards 2012 mastercard credit cards with rewards top 10 credit cards to have how to apply credit card in bdo philippines apply for capital 1 credit card best buy credit cards review spg credit card bonus points 0 balance transfer credit cards for good credit best way to rebuild credit with a secured credit card credit card protectors from scanners va loans with bad credit score credit card instant decision online bad credit capital one venture business credit card apply for simmons first credit card chase credit card protection insurance guaranteed credit cards canada no interest credit cards orchard credit card bank virgin credit card ppi reclaim bad credit secured loan calculator top credit card processing providers best credit cards for bad credit rebuild horizon gold card services online payday loan easy approval sears credit card rewards hsbc bank credit card comparison malaysia hdfc credit cards online apply interest free credit cards bad credit rating free business credit cards uk jc penny credit card old navy visa credit card payment address best credit card offers 2013 for travel credit card debt advice uk credit card machine hire uk rfid credit card scanner theft who offers secured credit cards in australia chase visa reward cards disney premier visa credit card from chase 0 credit cards transfer balance new online payday loan lenders cash advances payday loans canada best reward credit cards with no annual fee 2013 instant cash advance uk credit cards - compare credit card offers at creditcards.com unsecured credit cards for bad credit not prepaid rbc bank visa debit card virtual credit card generator 2010 ge low rate credit card dubai first credit card review credit cards for bad credit credit card promotions malaysia can you apply for a walmart credit card over the phone travel rewards credit cards review balance transfer fee free credit cards uk credit card travel insurance tips to reduce credit card debt quickly instant credit cards for bad credit approval best secured credit card to rebuild credit fast fha loans with bad credit score best credit cards canada cash back citibank credit cards for bad credit how to organize store reward cards us bank credit card approval rates hdfc gold credit card reward points redemption catalogue credit cards for college students with low apr 0 percent credit card balance transfer free equifax credit score no credit card southwest air credit card deals rental car no credit card credit check lowest apr credit card cheap credit cards for bad credit history air miles credit card comparison uk discover credit card application phone number payday online loan lenders login into sears credit card legit fast cash loans online how to calculate interest rate on credit card balance best rate credit cards canada how to avoid paypal credit card fees icici online credit card application status first premier bank credit card review new direct payday loan lenders 2013 balance transfer credit card offers westpac apple credit card payment application what are black credit cards made of chase disney credit card review visa debit card credit history top 10 credit cards 2012 uk largest credit card issuers in the world free credit card numbers with cvv code hsbc black credit card uk credit card payment applied to highest interest rate do company credit cards affect credit score pay as you go credit card lost td visa card say no to 0870 natwest credit card how to get hdfc new credit card types of credit cards brands best online cash advances reviews easy credit cards to get approved for with no credit credit card cash advance charge calculator wyndham rewards credit card canada business loan quote online how to use hdfc credit card rewards points post office credit card contact number from abroad anz platinum credit card travel insurance australia prepaid credit cards post office canada delta credit card offer 50000 best rewards credit card 2011 paypal credit card fees ebay what is cash advance interest charge loan with bad credit uk delta skymiles credit card deal free online loan calculator generic recurring credit card authorization form credit card service providers uk how to apply for a credit card if you have no credit pay firestone credit card online i need a credit card with bad credit canada top credit card deals uk credit cards 101 what are credit cards personal online loans no credit check quick ways to pay off student loans jetstar international credit card fees bad credit credit cards no credit check uk credit card credit rating minimum payment easy online payday loans ontario get a credit card with bad credit history what is a good credit card rates apr what is considered a cash advance on a credit card
Home Maury Brown Inside the Numbers: A 6-Year Look at the Forbes Valuations

Like Shoot to Thrill - An AC/DC Tribute on Facebook!

An authentic tribute of AC/DC that covers the best of the Bon Scott era and the best of Brian Johnson's material

Who's Online?

We have 603 guests online

Atom RSS

Inside the Numbers: A 6-Year Look at the Forbes Valuations PDF Print E-mail
User Rating: / 0
Written by Maury Brown   
Sunday, 27 April 2008 23:00
A Biz of Baseball Exclusive

Each year, Forbes magazine releases its valuation of the 30 clubs within Major League Baseball. And, each year, fans, analysts, and certainly owners, debate the figures with an intensity that might rival a Lou Pinella missed call meltdown. Owners, with some rare exceptions, will say that the valuations are a bunch of hooey (that’s putting it kindly). Of, course, when the numbers work in their favor, you can get someone like George Steinbrenner on record, as he did last year when he said, "I am gratified at the Forbes valuation of the Yankees. We are continuing to build a worldwide brand for the people of New York and Yankee fans everywhere."

Others, such as Marlins president David Samson, would say otherwise. "Every year I continue to be surprised at the absolute inaccuracy that a so-called reputable magazine is willing to print," Samson said after this year's valuations were released. As we will present, if David Samson thinks that the figures for the Marlins are way off, that doesn’t mean that the Marlins aren’t pulling in a decent profit; it just means that the figures may not be completely in-sync with their accounting methods.

How Forbes renders their figures is what differs from MLB’s. Asked why those within MLB continue to say that the Forbes valuations are off, senior editor, and co-author of the valuations Kurt Badenhausen offers up their methodology for the financial estimates of a private industry that guards their money matters vigorously.

“We have been doing this at Forbes for 11 years,” Badenhausen said. “We talk to teams, investment bankers, consultants and other baseball people to help estimate all revenue and expense items as well as the current values of the franchises. There are a lot of ways to calculate these numbers with various holding companies, media properties and other businesses.”

As a specific example on the how MLB’s figures and Forbes’ figures may differ, Bandernhausen cites one baseball’s more lucrative revenue streams: MLB Advanced Media, which includes MLB.com.

“We have MLB’s revenues at $5.5 billion for 2007,” adds Bandernhausen. “MLB says they are more like $6.075 billion, but they are including $450 million or so of MLBAM revenue (whereas each team only got $2 million last year) and from events like the All-Star game. We include non-baseball stadium revenues from things like concerts and other events for those teams that control their stadiums. On the other hand, we deduct interest payments on debt that teams incurred from building new stadiums. Those two things roughly offset each other. We only look at revenues and expenses that the teams incur and baseball has clearly never been healthier from a financial standpoint.”

Another example involves the Seattle Mariners.

As part of the agreement for public funding of Safeco Field, the Mariners are required to release a financial statement to the State of Washington. The Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District (PFD) owns Safeco, and their annual report shows that the Mariners made $17.8 million in profits.

Forbes lists the Mariners as posting operating income for 2007 at $10.1 million. Why the $7.1 million discrepancy?

“Our Mariners number is actually closer than the $7.7 million when you factor in depreciation, amortization, signing bonuses, non-ballpark expenditures and capital expenditures which we do,” explains Badenhausen. “I believe the number was closer to $15 million. Our operating income is an EBITDA number (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization). The $5 million difference is based on different revenue and expense calculations and estimates.”

So, it’s clear that how valuation figures are calculated can be different. Thus, it’s not wholly untrue that MLB’s figures differ from Forbes, but then, it’s a matter of how the sides are calculating figures. As former MLB COO Paul Beeston said infamously, "I can turn a $4 million profit into a $2 million loss and I can get every national accounting firm to agree with me."

With the differences, I’m not about to quibble with the amounts, per se. The following is more of a look in trends in the valuations within MLB. Looking at the data historically can show us which clubs are valuating upward more thanInside the Forbes Valuations inflation – a sign that ownership is working to maximize the value of the franchise, a new stadium has come online, paying down debt, or other activities that will increase the value of their holdings, on top of the growth that MLB in general is witnessing.

In some instances, when coupled with total player payroll figures, they can show holes in the revenue-sharing system. Overall, the most obvious news is owners are making money, and lots of it. Using the overblown cliché, they are hitting the ball out of the park. There may be disparity between the amounts of revenue clubs are pulling in, but no owner could claim with a straight face that they aren’t making money these days. It’s just that some clubs are making more than others are. As Badenhausen rightly said, “After listening to baseball owners cry poverty for 25 years, the outcries have been relatively few the last couple of years because baseball is in what like Bud Selig likes to call a ‘Golden Age’.”

Select Read More to see a detailed breakdown of the Forbes figures

Before we delve into the historical trends over the last six years, here are some details based around the annual research by Michael Ozanian and Kurt Badenhausen from this year’s valuations (see http://www.forbes.com/baseball/):

  • Total gross revenues for the 30 clubs has increased by 7.7 percent from last year to $5.5 billion (as opposed to the $6.075 billion reported by MLB)
  • The average team is now worth $472 million, 9.5 percent higher than last year and 143 percent more than when Forbes first calculated team values in 1998.
  • The increase in gross revenues has outpaced expenditures in player payroll. This year, 56 percent of revenues were spent on player payroll compared to 66 percent just five years ago.
  • Paid attendance continues to be a driving factor for the incredible increases for MLB. Within that, interleague continues to be exceptionally popular. Last year, interleague averaged 34,900 fans per game, 15 percent more than intraleague contests.
  • The Mets, currently ranked second with a value of $824 million, will also get a new stadium that should push their value close to $1 billion before long. Citigroup, beleaguered by the housing market meltdown, is still planning to pay the Amazins $400 million over 20 years for the stadium's naming rights.

Most Profitable Not Always the Most Valuable

As the thread worn cliché goes, you have to spend money to make money. But, in looking at the this year’s figures, you’ll find that in many cases, it’s not spending money that is allowing some teams that are cellar dwellers in the standings winning the profit game.

Using Forbes’ operating income figures, one measure of profitability, sees several unlikely clubs making more than their higher valued counterparts.

The most notable of these clubs are the Washington Nationals, and the Florida Marlins.

In terms of the Nationals, they are pulling profits based on a very good lease agreement, and new stadium, while in the midst of a rebuilding process with the roster. For the Marlins, it is a matter of setting the player payroll to levels that may redefine the word "stingy". The Marlins Opening Day payroll is at $20 million, a third less than what they spent on player payroll last year. To place it in perspective, that's $5 million less than what the club will receive in revenue-sharing, which is projected to be $25 million.

Below is the top 10 clubs by operating income for this year's Forbes valuations.

Forbes most profitable


Who's Making the Least, or "Losing" Money

A clear indication that MLB's financial state is extremely robust, five years ago the Forbes valuations showed 16 clubs with operating income in the red. This year sees 3 clubs, the Blue Jays ($1.8 million), Red Sox ($19.1 million), and Yankees ($47.3 million) posting "losses". In the case of the Yankees posting a considerable operating loss, it is due to their exceptionally high player payroll (a record $218.3 million), and dolling out the vast majority of all funds paid into revenue-sharing ($100 million).

Note, however, that "losses" are in quotes as all three of these clubs have significant stakes in Regional Sports Networks (RSNs) that contribute to their bottom lines, but skirt the edges of what is technically counted as club revenues. As reported by Ozanian and Badenhausen, "For the owners of the Yankees and Red Sox, the huge dividends they get from their unconsolidated cable networks more than make up for the teams' losses. Meanwhile Rogers Communications, which owns the Blue Jays, their stadium and the cable channel that televises its games, derives huge benefits from owning the Blue Jays not reflected on its team's [Profit & Lose] statement."

Below are the clubs showing the least amount of operating income, or in the case of the Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Yankees, operating loss


Forbes least profitable

The Yankees Continue To Build an Empire

In the wake of the Red Sox winning two World Series championships in the last four years, some have said that the Red Sox, not the Yankees, are the new “Evil Empire.” While there is little discounting that the Red Sox are healthy in every respect financially, when compared to the Yankees, the Sox are still a distant second.

How far are they behind the Yankees? Consider the following: According to the Forbes valuations when accounting for inflation, the value of the Yankees in 2002 ($857,303,982.31) is greater than what the Red Sox are reported to be worth now ($816 million).

According to Ozanian and Badenhausen, “The Yankee brand (the portion of the team's value attributable to its name) alone is worth $241 million, almost as much as the entire Florida Marlins franchise.”

The value of the Yankees should hit $1.5 billion with the opening of new Yankee Stadium (see information on new Yankee Stadium here) in 2009.

Below shows how the Yankees value is compared to the Red Sox over the last six years (not adjusted for inflation)

Yankees Red Sox Valuations

Value of team based on values, such as current stadium deal (unless new stadium is pending) without deduction for debt (other than stadium debt).

An Angelic Rise in Value

In southern California, there are clear signs that in-part, private ownership has yielded better increases in value than under corporate ownership. Case in point, the incredible rise in value for the Angels.

Since Arte Moreno, the billboard advertiser magnate, purchased the club from the Walt Disney Co. in 2003 for $180 million, there has been a steady increase in the value of the club (see graph below, adjusted for inflation). While most all clubs have seen values increase above inflation, the Angels have climbed in value 48 percent during Moreno’s ownership tenure, when adjusting for inflation from approx $258.1 million to $500 million.

What has been amazing is that the Angels meteoric rise in value has come without a new stadium, or stadium related revenues such as new luxury suites. The Angels also have not seen lavish revenues from full or partial ownership of an RSN, such as the Red Sox or Yankees enjoy.

What Moreno has done is take lessons learned from his advertising background, and applied it to the Angels, most notably through the controversial renaming of the franchise to include the words “Los Angeles”, and gave Scouting and Player Development the flexibility to field competitive teams and sign key free agents.

"When Arte purchased the Angels, he did so with a short-term strategy and a long-term vision," said Angels spokesman, Tim Mead. "Located in the second biggest media market in the country, he emphasized we were a big-market club and would conduct ourselves accordingly."

Mead points out that Moreno's change in direction happened almost immediately.  With changes in branding of the color red, Angels Baseball, and the letter "A" that became focal points for the business side of the organization.   

"Our success is based on the fan experience at Angel Stadium, affordability of tickets, concessions and merchandising, as well as the expectations of our on-field product." 

The graph below outlines how the Angels have continued to climb in value by showing their ranking compared to the other 30 clubs since 2002.  

Angels Valuations

Below are the approx. values by way of Forbes, both non and inflation adjusted

Inflation Adj.

Are the Rockies Headed Back in the Right Direction?

There’s little denying that the surprise performance of last year’s season was the Colorado Rockies. Defying the odds, the team that hadn’t had a winning season since 2000, and was last seen in the playoffs in 1995, went all the way to the World Series last year before meeting up with the Red Sox and ending their Cinderella run.

The club was in need of the performance as the club has cycled down in value since being so successful after expanding into the league. At the end of March, the club renewed their naming rights deal with Coors Brewing for 10-years, and added in-stadium naming rights to two sections within the ballpark. The premium seats and lounge area behind home plate is now known as the Coors Clubhouse. The picnic area behind centerfield is called Coors Field Picnic Area. The financial terms were not released, but it is bound to continue pulling the Rockies out of their recent valuation slide.

How badly were the winning and naming rights deals needed? Looking at the 6-year set of Forbes data sees the Rockies as the club that has increased in value the least. In fact, the Yankees have increased in value 24 times as much as the team from Colorado.

While the raw figures show an increase in valuation from 2002 to 2008 for the Rockies, when adjusting for inflation, the Rockies are actually worth less today than in 2002 dollars (see image and graph below)

Forbes Rockies

Inflation Adj.

Bottom Feeders

South Florida has the dubious distinction of being home to not one, but two of the least valuable franchises over the course of the past six years. Both the Marlins and Rays have been in the bottom five in value every year, and to make matters worse, they have ranked at 29th or 30th more than any other clubs. The Marlins have been 29th or 30th three times (30th in 2007 and 2008, and 29th in 2003) while the Rays hold the “very bottom” rankings five times (30th in 2005 and 2006, and 29th in 2007 and 2008).

 The now Tampa Bay Rays (the word "Devil" has been removed, and a complete team rebranding has taken place with both uniforms and logos), have also set eyes on redeveloping Al Lang Field in downtown St. Petersburg. To offset costs, the land (85 acres) where Tropicana Field is located would be redeveloped as a major retail, entertainment, and housing development. (See renderings of the proposed open-air Rays facility and other details, like you see in the image to the right)

In the case of the Marlins, their value has remained low, in part, due to playing in Dolphin Stadium, a substandard facility, and one in which they do not control the revenue streams as former Marlins owner Wayne Huizenga owns the facility. That may change as the Marlins are close to landing funding for a retractable roof stadium on the site of the former Orange Bowl (see renderings of one proposed design). Nevertheless, one of the primary reasons that the Marlins continue slice margins by setting the aforementioned player payroll so exceedingly low. To place this in perspective, the largest increase in value occurred the year after the Marlins won the World Series in 2003. The value increased 26 percent the year after in 2004 but has since declined in each consecutive year.

See graph showing percent of change from the year prior for both the Marlins and Rays:

% of Increase
From Year
% of Increase
From Year

Other Points of Interest

  • Unsurprisingly, the Yankees have been the most valuable of all the franchises during the course of the six years examined.
  • The Mets and Red Sox have jockeyed back and forth in the #2 ranking, with the Red Sox holding the distinction in consecutive years (2004-2006) and the Mets holding the honors in 2002-2003 and 2007-2008.
  • The largest increases in value from 2007 to 2008: Rockies (17%); Nationals, Angels and White Sox (16%); Brewers (15%); Indians, Tigers, and Twins (14%); and Rangers and Red Sox (13%)
  • Largest increase in value for a given year: 114 percent when the then MLB owned Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals were relocated to D.C. in 2005.
  • Largest figures for operating income over the six-year period: Washington Nationals ($43.7 million in 2008), Florida Marlins ($43.3 million, 2007 and $35.6 million in 2008), Cleveland Indians ($34.6 million in 2006) and Baltimore Orioles ($34 million in 2006)
  • Years by clubs reporting a loss by way of operating income (NOTE: Forbes’ 2003 figures shows more than half the league running at a loss): 2008 (3) – Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, 2007 (1) – Yankees, 2006 (5) – Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Marlins, Angels. 2005 (10) – Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Dodgers, Mariners, Cardinals, Angels, Rockies, D-Backs, Twins, 2004 (14) – Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, Braves, Cardinals, Rangers, Phillies, D-Backs, Angels, Pirates, Marlins, Twins, Expos, 2003 (16) – Red Sox, Dodgers, Rangers, Indians, Astros, Cardinals, D-Backs, Phillies, Tigers, Angels, Pirates, Brewers, Blue Jays, Royals, Marlins, Expos, 2002 (10) – Red Sox, Dodgers, Indians, Rangers, D-Backs, Cardinals, White Sox, Blue Jays, Devil Rays, Expos
  • Largest reported figures for operating at a loss: Yankees (-$50 million in 2006, -$47.3 million in 2008, and $-37.1 million in 2005), Angels (-$30 million in 2005) and Dodgers ($-29.6 million in 2002)

League Averages, By Year

The following shows the average value, 1-year change, debt/value ratio, revenues, and operating income for the league by year of the study. 

League Avgs.: 2002 - 2008
1-Yr Value Change (%)
Op Income ($mil)


The obvious finding in looking at the Forbes figures is that all the clubs are in a healthy state these days. Valuations continue to climb, and fewer and fewer clubs are operating under what Forbes sees as operating loss.

What the figures also show is that often times, the clubs that have cried poverty in the past, or said that they would be unable to compete in the free agency market without considerable assistance by way of revenue-sharing, are, in fact, pulling in healthy profits.

And while one can shrug off that issue by saying all the clubs are making more money, there are signs that the most valuable are growing at a rate faster than their mid-to-low level counterparts. In other words, there is an increasing disparity in valuation.

That would make sense; larger market clubs such as the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Dodgers, Angels, Cubs, and White Sox should be in a position to increase their values by way of RSNs, more lucrative sponsorship deals, and increased brand recognition. The good news is that during Selig's tenure, the institution of revenue-sharing, and to a larger extent, the introduction of the Wild Card has allowed more parity in terms of the standings than ever before.

Finally, as mentioned at the outset, Forbes and MLB may come to different figures each year. However, it is clear that until MLB decides to open their books to the public, the Forbes valuations paint a clear picture in terms of trends in the industry. In 2008, when it comes to MLB, business is good.


  • All data referenced, Forbes 
  • NOTE: Use the following link to see all data used for the historical references (2002-2008)
  • Revenues and operating income are for a given season and include revenue sharing.
  • "Value" - Value of team for a given year based on current stadium deal (unless new stadium is pending), without deduction for debt (other than stadium debt).
  • "% of Change" - Current team value compared with most recent transaction.
  • "Debt/Value" - Includes stadium debt.
  • "Operating Income" - earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation.
  • "N/A" - not applicable.

Maury Brown

Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer.

Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.



Should MLB Force Jeffery Loria to Sell the Marlins?