Most Valuable Franchise In The NFL? Dallas Cowboys. Guess How Much They're Worth, And Who Is No. 2

  • Rick Chandler

Not only are the Cowboys the most valuable NFL franchise at $3.2 billion, but they’ve been atop the list for eight straight years. That’s Jerry Jones’ real legacy — not the somewhat bumbling product he actually puts on the field (playoff record of 1-6 since 1996).

The Cowboys are the first U.S.sports franchise to hit the $3 billion mark. Of course you can’t take it with you, and as we’ve learned above, often you can’t even take it to the NFC Championship Game (they haven’t been there since ’95). Yep, it’s coming up on the 20th anniversary of the last time Dallas was in the NFC title game. How much for parking, again?

The Cowboys are the second-most valuable sports franchise in the world, according to Forbes. Only Real Madrid is worth more, at $3.4 billion. The other big Spanish soccer team, Barcelona, is tied with the Cowboys at $3.2 billion. In the U.S., of course you know that the NFL means bucks.

The average NFL team is currently worth $1.43 billion, the highest value in the 17 years Forbes has tracked professional football team finances. The $1.43 billion average is 23% more than a year ago, the biggest year-over-year increase since 1999.

Forbes’ team values are enterprise values (equity plus net debt) and are calculated using multiples of revenue that reflect each team’s current stadium economics (with adjustments for pending new stadiums and renovations).

In our most recent reports on the other top sports, the world’s 20 most valuable soccer teams (comprised mainly of clubs from the top English, Spanish, German and Italian leagues) had an average value of $1.05 billion, Major League Baseball teams had an average value of $811 million, followed by the NBA, with an average team value of $634 million.

The Cowboys had the NFL’s highest revenue ($560 million) and operating income ($246 million) in 2013. And they have two new deals this season, with global luxury watch-maker Hublot, and Carnival cruise lines. The latter is only fitting: both the Cowboys and cruise lines can make you sick.

The Los Angeles Clippers recently selling for $2 billion is also good news for the NFL, actually. Steve Ozanian of Forbes:

The hefty premium paid by Steve Ballmer for the Clippers has definitely gotten the attention of the NFL, with several owners telling me there will likely be an announcement within two years of two NFL teams moving to Los Angeles and sharing a new stadium. Not lost on the league: California is home to the most billionaires (111) and Fortune 500 companies (54) of any state.

The most immediately portable teams are the San Diego Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams.

Does being the last valuable franchise in the NFL make you the most “portable”? We’ll see. The Rams are valued at $930 million, says Forbes — with the Bills as the second-lowest at $935 million. The Rams moving back to LA makes the most sense to me, because I like to see that area in a perpetual state of confusion. Raiders move in, Raiders move out. Rams move in, Rams move out, Rams move back in. It’s like an episode of NBA Wives.

But more interesting to me are the next three highest on the NFL money list. They are 2. Patriots ($2.6 billion), 3. Washington ($2.4 billion), 4. NY Giants ($2.1 billion). And so we see why Daniel Snyder has that death grip on his team’s nickname: it’s a brand worth a shitload of moolah, and to rich pussbuckets like him, money trumps everything, even human dignity.

Thanks to Lew Patton.