The average NFL team is worth $3.5 billion, according to data compiled by Sportico. The Dallas Cowboys rank first at $6.92 billion, while the Cincinnati Bengals rank last at $2.4 billion. Below are the elements that compose the value of the league's 32 franchises, whose collective worth is $112 billion.
Total Value: The sum of the fair-market value of an NFL franchise combined with the value of team-related businesses and real estate holdings.
Team Value: NFL franchise valuation, derived from metrics by which football-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 3.13% interest in the league's properties, including NFL Network, NFL RedZone and its digital platforms, which are acquired/dispossessed in tandem with the sale of a team.
Team-Related Businesses and Real Estate Holdings: The value of a franchise owner's equity in team-related businesses that are distinct corporate entities, as well as government-assessed real estate related to venue, practice facilities and adjacent developments. Examples include: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' 20%-plus interest in Legends Hospitality, a stadium operations corporation; and the Washington Football Team's subsidiaries, which own roughly 400 acres near the team's stadium and practice facility.
This category excludes value derived from enterprises determined as too attenuated from the football team's operations, which fall into three categories: (1) rent from non-football, outside-of-stadium retail operations, like the Green Bay Packers' Titletown venture; (2) licensing fees paid by non-football third parties to a team's sister company for the use of intellectual property; (3) team owner's investment in businesses unrelated to franchise operations. Examples include the Cowboys' sister company Blue Star Land's joint ventures with real estate partners.
For franchises that do not own their venues, 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.
National Revenue: Each franchise's equal proportion of league-shared revenue, derived predominantly from NFL contracts with media and advertising partners; it represented 80% of total team revenue for the COVID-impacted 2020 season, wherein fan attendance was sparse. This consists of:
(i.) National media rights (broadcast deals with Walt Disney, Fox, Comcast, ViacomCBS, Amazon, SiriusXM and Cumulus Media).
(ii.) League sponsorship revenues (e.g., Verizon, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Nike, Visa and many others).
(iii.) Net revenues and royalties from NFL Ventures, which include the league's various affiliates and subsidiaries, such as NFL Properties LLC, NFL International LLC, and NFL Enterprises LLC. These distributions covers licensing, film, international properties and media rights, as well as domestic TV deals with AT&T (NFL Sunday Ticket) and NFL Network.
Excluded from this calculation is income derived by and distributed from 32 Equity, the private equity investment vehicle established by the NFL in 2013.
Local Revenue: Revenue generated by each franchise independent of league distributions, comprising in aggregate only 20% of total team revenue for the 2020 season. It is typically more like 60% for a season with full attendance. Local revenue is comprised of:
(i.) Stadium, which includes: ticket sales; premium seating (luxury suite leases and club seating); parking; team's share of concessions; and non-football (third-party) events.
(ii.) Sponsorship, which includes: naming rights, advertising, corporate partnerships, local merchandising (distinct from league licensing royalties in National Revenue).
(iii.) Road Game Revenue, which includes the net share of each team's proportion of revenue generated from games played outside of its venue.
(iv.) Media, which includes local TV and radio, for which teams often control advertising inventory.
Sportico is committed to transparency, including provision of detailed methodology and sourcing information below. For any additional questions, please contact sports valuations at email@example.com. Sports business reporter Brendan Coffey assisted in the compilation of this report.
Fair Market Franchise Valuations
To derive the fair market value of the 32 NFL franchises, Sportico calculated each team's historic and projected revenue, relying on publicly available information and financial records—and interviews with those knowledgeable of team finances, including eight sports bankers and lawyers who actively work on NFL transactions. We traded candor for anonymity. This information was vetted with multiple team owners, team financial and operating officers, media relations personnel and former team executives, as well as industry experts and sports-focused economists.
Revenue totals were then subject to a team-specific multiplier, which, based on interviews with multiple sports bankers, remains the most common manner by which transactions are judged in sports, due to dramatic fluctuations of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), year-over-year, based on salary cap spending and special expenses. One team owner told Sportico: "EBITDA, at the end of the day, is less a driver of football value than people think."
The team-specific multipliers were based on numerous 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 expected future team and league economics. These ranges varied from 5.5 times revenue (i.e., Cincinnati Bengals) to 7 times revenue (i.e., New England Patriots). In 2018, the Carolina Panthers sold for nearly 6 times revenue. Multiples were assigned to projected 2021 revenue, based on a full season with fans in stadiums.
Historic national revenue was determined based on the annual financial report of the lone publically owned NFL franchise, the Green Bay Packers. Teams are projected to receive $335 million in 2021.
Local Revenue was calculated based on analyses of data from industry sources and reports, and 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.
NFL Franchise Review and Comments
Among the 32 NFL franchises, nine teams participated with Sportico by validating financial information, while others did not respond. The Green Bay Packers provided information and answered questions as part of their annual release of financial information but did not comment on the valuations. The National Football League declined to comment on valuation totals.
Financial and Industry Sources
Team and league financial information was derived from the following sources: NFL and NFL Ventures bond ratings by Fitch Ratings; historical NFL League Office Financial Reports over multiple years; historical financial reports of NFL Ventures, L.P. and subsidiaries; historical annual reports for the Green Bay Packers Football Club, Inc. since 2007; historical financial reports of the Kansas City Chiefs and Carolina Panthers, respectively, over multiple years; and analyses of historical team sales from 1999 to 2018, based on Sportico research.
Industry data sources include: the Association of Luxury Suite Directors (for club and luxury suite capacity and pricing); Team Marketing Report (fan spending); individual team and sponsor websites; Chris Bigelow of the Bigelow Companies (per capita spending on stadium concessions); and the Marquette University Law School (historical sports facility lease information).
To assess team-owned real estate with consistency, Sportico included government property appraisals. Sources included: Brown County Land Records (Wisconsin); Collin County Appraisal District (Texas); Denton County Central Appraisal District (Texas); Los Angeles County Assessor (California); Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation; Prince George's County (Maryland); Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser (Florida); Dakota County Property Taxation & Records (Minnesota); Clark County Assessor's Office (Nevada); Town of Foxborough Assessor's Office (Massachusetts); Mecklenburg County Assessor's Office (North Carolina); and York County Tax Assessor's Office (South Carolina).
To review the terms of teams' facility leases with municipal and state authorities, Sportico examined public documents from—or reporting pertaining to—the following entities: the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority; Chicago Park District; City of Arlington, Texas; City of Charlotte, North Carolina; City of Cleveland, Ohio; City of Detroit, Michigan and Wayne County Stadium Authority; City of Green Bay, Wisconsin and Brown County Pro Football Stadium District; City of Jacksonville, Florida; City of Nashville, Tennessee and Davidson County; City of Oakland, California and Alameda County; City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Erie County Stadium Corp (Buffalo); Georgia World Congress Authority; Hamilton County, Ohio; Harris County Sports & Convention Corp. (Houston); Indiana Stadium and Convention Building Authority; Jackson County Sports Complex Authority (Kansas City); Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District; Maryland Stadium Authority; Metropolitan Football Stadium District (Denver); Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority; New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority; Santa Clara Stadium Authority (California); Sports & Exhibition Authority (Pittsburgh); Tampa Sports Authority (Florida); and Washington State Public Stadium Authority.