When the Los Angeles Clippers were sold to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion in late May, it got many fans wondering what their own favorite franchises were worth. It may have inaccurately portrayed what the Clippers were actually worth -- Forbes noted that Ballmer's purchase, which is still being held up in court, is more than 15 times revenue for the Clippers, far greater than the $551 million price tag (5.1 times revenue) Ted Leonsis paid for the Wizards in 2010.
So while purchase price doesn't equate to worth, that won't make the price tags go down anytime soon. Forbes presented their top-50 most valuable sports franchises, and some of the numbers were staggering. The average team in the top-50 is worth $1.34 billion, with 38 of the 50 teams reaching the $1 billion mark (up from 33 teams a year ago). Three years ago there were no teams worth $2 billion; today there are six, including three soccer clubs, two baseball franchises and the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys were one of 30 NFL teams in the top-50, with only the Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars failing to make the cut. Eight soccer teams, six baseball teams, four NBA squads, one hockey franchise and Formula 1 racing team.
And Chicago was well-represented on the list. The Bears came in at No. 18, the Cubs were slotted No. 21 and the Bulls ranked No. 37.
The Bears moved down two slots from a year ago and were the eighth most valuable NFL franchise, valued at $1.252 billion. Forbes noted that "the Bears play in the smallest stadium in the NFL -- capacity is just 61,5000 -- despite being in the third-largest market in America." Still, the team's worth is up from a reported $1.19 billion a year ago.
The Cubs ranked fourth in Major League Baseball, once again behind the New York Yankees (No. 4), the Los Angeles Dodgers (No. 5) and Boston Red Sox (No. 11). Their valuation from Forbes ($1.2 billion) also is up from a year ago, when they ranked 31st in the world with a value of $1 billion. The jump isn't surprising considering the buzz surrounding the young talent is building, the team "inked a deal in June to move its radio broadcasts to WBBM 780-AM," are in the process of beginning renovations at Wrigley Field and will sign a new TV deal when their current one with WGN TV runs out after 2014. The Cubs stand to make a considerable jump in the rankings once again.
For the first time in their franchise history the Bulls reached the $1 billion valuation in January, up 25 percent from a yer ago when they were the No. 47 team on Forbes' list. Avoiding the luxury tax and filling the United Center to capacity has helped the Bulls' cause more than anything, according to Forbes: "The Bulls are one of the NBA's most profitable teams every year thanks to five straight years of league-leading attendance and payroll restraint."