The average MLB team is worth $2.2 billion, according to data compiled by Sportico. The New York Yankees rank first at $6.75 billion, while the Miami Marlins rank last at $1.12 billion. Below are the elements that compose the value of the league's 30 franchises, which are collectively worth $66 billion.
Total Value: The sum of the current fair-market value of an MLB franchise combined with the value of team-related businesses and real estate holdings.
Team Value: MLB franchise valuation, derived from metrics by which baseball team transactions occur, including aggregating local and national revenues and factoring in a team-specific multiplier. This represents the fair-market value of the team itself, excluding related businesses held by its owners. It includes the value of each franchise's 3.23% interest in MLB Advanced Media, the league's digital arm, which is acquired/dispossessed in tandem with the sale of a team.
Team-Related Businesses and Real Estate Holdings: The value of a franchise or franchise owner's equity in team-related businesses—that is, both those on the team's balance sheet and held in distinct corporate entities—as well as government-assessed real estate related to venue, practice facilities, and adjacent developments. Examples include: the Boston Red Sox parent entity's 80% interest in the New England Sports Network (NESN); and holdings through the Atlanta Braves' six subsidiaries of all or a portion of 31 parcels of land adjacent to its ballpark.
For franchises that do not own their stadia, the value of a team's lease—often with advantageous terms negotiated with municipal or state authorities—is captured in the Team Value category.
Total Team Revenue: Cumulative amount of National Revenue and Local Revenue. For 2019, the most recent, full season, these figures are net of sales tax and payments or receipts derived from the MLB revenue-sharing system, and before stadium debt/PILOT payments.
National Revenue: Each franchise's equal proportion of league-shared revenue, derived predominantly from MLB contracts with media and advertising partners. This consists of:
(i.) National media (broadcast deals with AT&T, Fox Corp., SiriusXM Radio, Walt Disney Co.; distributions related to MLB Extra Innings pay-per-view; sum-total of international and other broadcast agreements).
(ii.) League sponsorship (e.g., Bank of America, Google and Hankook Tire & Technology) and licensed merchandise royalties (through league subsidiary MLB Properties, Inc.).
(iii.) Distributions and dividends related to Major League Baseball Advanced Media and Major League Baseball Network (a cable television channel two-thirds-owned by the league, and affiliated film and production entities).
(iv.) Distributions related to league-operated events (i.e., a participating team's proportional receipts related to revenue derived from the staging of World Series games).
Local Revenue: Revenue generated by each franchise independent of league distributions. This is comprised of dozens of revenue streams captured within three broad categories:
(i.) Stadium, which includes: ticket sales; parking; team's share of concessions; and non-baseball ("third-party" or "marquee") events when venue is controlled by team.
(ii.) Sponsorship, which includes: naming rights, advertising, corporate partnerships, and local merchandising (distinct from league licensing royalties in National Revenue).
(iii.) Media, which includes local TV and radio (e.g., for the Tampa Bay Rays: Bally Sports Sun TV and WDAE-AM/WGES-AM).
Sportico is committed to transparency, including provision of detailed methodology and sourcing information below. For any additional questions, please contact sports valuations reporter Kurt Badenhausen at email@example.com, who led in the composition of this report. Senior sports valuations and legal reporter Peter J. Schwartz, sports finance reporter Brendan Coffey, and sports business reporter Randall Williams assisted.
Fair Market Franchise Valuations
To derive the fair-market value of the 30 MLB franchises, Sportico calculated each team's revenue relying on publicly available information and financial records—and interviews with those knowledgeable of team finances, including 10 sports bankers and attorneys who actively work on MLB transactions. We traded candor for anonymity. This information was vetted by multiple team or parent company CEOs, presidents, chief financial officers and media relations personnel, as well as industry experts and investors.
Revenue totals were then subject to a team-specific multiplier, which, based on interviews with multiple sports bankers, remains the only reliable manner by which transactions occur, due to dramatic fluctuations of earnings before interest, taxes and amortization (EBITA), year-over-year, based on player spending, farm system costs, and special expenses.
The team-specific multipliers were based on multiple factors, including: historical sales, market (size, saturation, and interest by prospective owners), strength of brand, on-field performance (historical and recent), terms of facility lease, debt burden and additional obligations, as well as expected future team and league economics. These ranges varied from 4.5 times revenue (e.g., Milwaukee Brewers) to 7.5 times revenue (New York Yankees). In 2020, the New York Mets sold for more than 6 times revenue.
Revenue was calculated based on analyses of data from industry sources and reports, as well as interviews with experts and those with knowledge of team and league finances (detailed below); together, this comprised hundreds of inputs of confirmed and estimated information from dozens of sources.
Given the business disruption posted by the coronavirus pandemic, we calculated revenue for the 2019 season (the last to be uninterrupted) and applied the multiples to those figures as a baseline. Direct multiples of Sportico's calculated revenues for the 2020 season, therefore, were not used for this purpose.
Team Review and Comments
Among the 30 MLB franchises, multiple teams or their parent companies participated with Sportico by providing or validating information, while others did not comment or respond. Franchises were provided the opportunity to review and comment on Sportico's tabulations for 2019 revenue, 2020 revenue, team valuation, related business valuation, and total valuation, as well as on methodology and process.
Financial and Industry Sources
Team and league financial information was derived from the following sources: Municipal bond disclosures (pertaining to Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners and Washington Nationals); Fitch Ratings and S&P Ratings (both of which contained financial data pertaining to the same three teams—New York Mets, New York Yankees and Washington Nationals); and team-specific municipal or state disclosures (Kansas City Royals' disclosures to the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority; Milwaukee Brewers' disclosures to the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District; Pittsburgh Pirates' disclosures to the Sports & Exhibition Authority Pittsburgh and County of Allegheny; and the Miami Marlins disclosures to the Florida Secretary of State).
Additional financial, corporate and structural information was derived from Security and Exchange Commission disclosures (Liberty Media Corporation—Atlanta Braves; Tribune Media Company—Chicago Cubs minority interest; and Rogers Communications—Toronto Blue Jays); the 2017-2021 MLB-MLBPA Collective Bargaining Agreement; and through analyses of historical team sales from 1999 to 2019, based on Sportico research.
Industry data sources include: the Association of Luxury Suite Directors (for club and luxury suite capacity, occupancy and pricing); Team Marketing Report (fan spending and sponsorship information); individual team and sponsor websites; each franchise's 2020 or 2021 media guide; S&P Global Market Intelligence (subscriber, revenue and cash-flow data pertaining to six regional sports networks); the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's Discretionary and On-Demand Service data (pertaining to broadcast outlets owned by Toronto Blue Jays' parent company); and multiple synopses related to Sinclair Broadcast Group's purchase of 22 sports-specific cable TV outlets in 2019.
In addition to the sports bankers, team owners and team executives discussed above, Sportico conducted interviews related to specific valuations components. To assess regional sports networks, these included Lee Berke of LHB Sports & Entertainment & Media; Chris Bevilacqua of Bevilacqua Helfant Ventures; Adam Gajo of S&P Global Market Intelligence; and Ed Desser of Desser Media. Chad Lewis of Fitch Ratings provided guidance on the credit health of MLB.
To assess team-owned real estate with consistency, Sportico included government property appraisals. Sources included: City of Boston Assessing Department (Massachusetts); City and County of San Francisco, Office of Assessor-Recorder (California); City of St. Louis Assessor's Office (Missouri); Cobb County Board of Tax Assessors (Georgia); Cook County Assessor's Office (Illinois); Denver Assessor's Office (Colorado); Harris County Appraisal District (Texas); Harris County Houston Sports Authority (Texas); Los Angeles County Office of the Assessor (California); Massachusetts Secretary of State; Minnesota Ballpark Authority; San Diego Public Facilities Authority (California); Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (Ontario); San Diego County Assessor (California); and Tarrant Appraisal District (Texas).
To review the terms of teams' facility leases with municipal and state authorities, Sportico examined public documents from—or reported information pertaining to—the following entities: Arlington Sports Facilities Development Authority (Texas); Canada Lands Co. (Federal Government entity); City of Anaheim (California); City of Philadelphia (Pennsylvania); City of San Diego (California); City of St. Petersburg (Florida); Cobb-Marietta Coliseum & Exhibit Hall Authority, and Cobb County (Georgia); Cuyahoga County (Ohio); Denver Metropolitan Major League Baseball Stadium District (Colorado); Detroit Wayne County Stadium Authority (Michigan); Hamilton County (Ohio); Harris County Houston Sports Authority (Texas); Illinois Sports Facility Authority; Jackson County Sports Complex Authority (Missouri); Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami (Florida); Maricopa County Stadium District (Arizona); Maryland Stadium Authority; Minnesota Ballpark Authority; Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority (California); Port of San Francisco (California); Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District; Sports & Exhibition Authority of Pittsburgh and County of Allegheny (Pennsylvania); St. Louis Sports Center Redevelopment Authority (Missouri); Washington Convention and Sports Authority (District of Columbia); Washington-King County Stadium Authority (Washington State); or, summaries thereof from Marquette University Law School.
Business results related to minor league teams in which MLB franchises have an ownership interest were not included (e.g., Springfield Cardinals or Gwinnett Braves). Most minor league teams are owned independently from the major league teams with which they are affiliated; many have de minimis value.
• Chicago White Sox: The White Sox and NBA's Chicago Bulls share common ownership, which, in turn, owns 50% of NBC Sports Chicago—a regional sports network that airs many of those teams' games. For purposes of this valuation, that 50% allotment was ascribed a 30:20 attribution in the White Sox' favor, given that there is more inventory dedicated to baseball games over the course of a broadcast year. This is consistent with the methodology used in Sportico's NBA valuations published in January 2021.
• Colorado Rockies: The first phase of the Rockies' mixed-use commercial/residential real estate project adjacent to Coors Field is near completion. Consistent with Sportico's valuation methodology for National Football League and National Basketball Association franchises, during the construction phase, planned and in-progress improvements made to land were not tabulated. As a result, the completion of each phase of this project will positively affect future valuations of the Rockies.
• Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The Angels' Related Business category includes, in addition to its RSN stake, owner Arte Moreno's 2020 purchase of Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
• Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers' Related Business category includes valuation assessments related to its ownership of Spectrum SportsNet LA (through wholly owned subsidiary American Media Productions LLC); investments held by its venture capital entity, Elysian Park Ventures; and property encompassing and adjacent to Dodger Stadium. This includes the proportional value of the acreage held though a 50/50 joint venture with the team's previous owner, Frank McCourt.
• New York Mets: Upon the team's sale in November 2020, the stake controlled by the previous principal owner, the Wilpon family, was reduced to 5%. The Wilpon family also controls 65% of SNY, a regional sports network that telecasts Mets games, as well as land near its ballpark, CitiField, through multiple closely held subsidiaries. Since it is no longer reasonable to assess the team, network and this property as being under the same corporate ownership, no proportional interest in SNY nor the Wilpons' land was included in the franchise valuation.
• New York Yankees: The Yankees' Related Business category includes, among other investments, valuation assessments of its current ownership interests in YES Network (26%) and Legends (20%), after the team's parent entity increased its stake in the former, a regional sports network, in 2019, and decreased its stake in the later, a hospitality and management company, in 2021.
• San Francisco Giants: A valuation assessment of the Giants' participation in commercial real estate developments adjacent to its ballpark is included in the franchise's Team Value category; the team is a non-land-owning partner in the project.
• Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals: The present, proportional value of the Rangers' real estate joint venture in partnership with the Cordish Companies and Lowes Hotels, and the Cardinals' joint venture with the Cordish Companies, have been included as related businesses. As with the Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants (above), further development of these projects will positively affect the future valuations of these franchises.
• Toronto Blue Jays: The Blue Jays' Related Business category includes an assessment of the dollar-value amount directly attributable to the team of sports-specific broadcast outlets (TV and radio) owned by its parent company, Rogers Communications. The franchise's Related Business category also includes the assessed value of its venue, Rogers Centre, excluding its footprint, which is government-owned.