The world’s most valuable teams and athletes
The Los Angeles Lakers won the National Basketball Association title again in June, but the real winner was Philip Anschutz, who owns one-fourth of the team. You could say he’s a bigger winner than the extravagantly paid Kobe Bryant, who pulls down $23 million a year from the team and another $25 million from endorsements, making him the third-best-paid athlete in the world, behind Tiger Woods and boxer Floyd Mayweather. Phil Mickelson is fourth.
Bryant creates real estate value. Having taken the Lakers to five titles since he joined the team in 1996, he has helped turn the Staples Center, which Anschutz controls, into the most profitable sports venue in the U.S. And without the Staples Center, Anschutz could not have built L.A. Live, the $2.5 billion entertainment center adjacent to the arena. The Lakers are the most valuable team in the NBA and the 49th most valuable in sports, worth $607 million.
|Slideshow: The world’s most valuable sports teams|
Here you have the grandest example of how the traditional sports business model – where ticket sales determine the pecking order of team values within each league, and a player’s value is captured by what his team pays him – is being replaced by a new formula. Now regional sports networks, modern stadiums, sponsorships, videogames and even reality television use teams and athletes as entertainment brands. Players and owners are in effect partners in a joint venture, where a portion of each dollar an owner pays a player is also an investment in a related business.
We depict this phenomenon in a new list: the SportsMoney 50-50. It ranks the world’s most valuable teams and athletes.
The SportsMoney 50-50 includes teams from five sports: baseball (with 5 teams rich enough to make the cut), basketball (2 teams), football (all 32 NFL teams – credit national TV deals worth $4 billion annually), motorsports (2 teams) and soccer (9 teams). For the athletes we factored in salaries, bonuses, prize money, endorsements, appearance fees and licensing income earned over the past 12 months. Athletes from nine sports made the cut, with NBA players making up 30 percent of the list. Americans dominate, but there are 16 different nationalities represented.
We estimate the value of England’s Manchester United at $1.8 billion, making it not just the richest soccer team but also the biggest property in all of sports. Over the past decade Man U, currently owned by the Glazer family, has used high-priced talent like David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo to attract a worldwide core fan base of 139 million.
Here’s the payback: Nike will pay the team $470 million over 13 years plus a 50 percent share of profits on specific merchandise through 2015. Beginning next season Man U will have a new shirt sponsorship with Aon worth $34 million annually over four years, 50 percent more than its previous deal with AIG. MUTV, the club’s dedicated television channel, is shown in 192 million homes.
As Ma nU’s celebrity grew, so did the Beckham’s value. The 35-year-old is no longer a great player, but he’s still a great brand – fifth on our list of top earners, bringing in $43.7 million from endorsements of Adidas, Yahoo and others, plus his salaries playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy in the U.S. and A.C. Milan in Italy.
Unlike European soccer, the National Football League shares national television revenue equally among its 32 teams, thus owners have used stadiums as the primary platform to increase the value of their franchises. But because there are only 10 guaranteed games a season, a stadium’s success is contingent on selling events other than NFL games. By this score no one in the NFL is as good as Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who opened his new $1.2 billion stadium last summer, making the team the NFL’s most valuable and the second most valuable in all sports, worth $1.65 billion.
The New York Yankees are another powerhouse, the most valuable team in baseball and the third most valuable sports franchise in the world, worth $1.6 billion. No wonder they happily pay superstars Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter more than $20 million a season even though it means the team’s high payroll resulted in a salary tax of $25.7 million last season. The two superstars helped the Yankees turn the YES Network, the regional sports channel they control, into the most-watched regional sports network in the country.
Even better, unlike national broadcasting revenue the Yankees do not have to share profits from YES with the other 29 teams in baseball. Ford Motor is a big advertiser with both YES (Forbes co-produces a television show with the network) and Yankee Stadium and also pays Jeter to pitch its Edge SUV. Including their endorsement income during the past year, A-Rod and Jeter earned $35.9 million and $29.7 million, respectively, placing them No. 12 and No. 19 on our list.
Rounding out the top five teams are the Washington Redskins ($1.55 billion), with an average operating income of $77 million over past five seasons (the highest in the NFL) and the New England Patriots ($1.36 billion).
If combining the brand power of teams and athletes to create wealth sounds easy, there is Tom Hicks to remind us of the cost of this strategy failing. Hicks, as owner of the Texas Rangers, gave A-Rod a $252 million, 10-year contract a decade ago in hopes he would help increase attendance and pricing for tickets and sponsorships.
Hicks also borrowed money with the idea of building a development near Rangers Ballpark similar to what Kraft did in New England. And of course there was the plan to borrow a lot of money to build a new soccer stadium for Liverpool, of which Hicks owns 50 percent. Alas, these plans imploded in a pile of debt, with the Rangers going into bankruptcy protection in May. The largest unsecured creditor: A-Rod, who is owed $24.9 million in deferred compensation.
The most valuable sports teams:
1. Manchester United: Slideshow
2. Dallas Cowboys: Slideshow
3. New York Yankees: Slideshow
4. Washington Redskins: Slideshow
5. New England Patriots: Slideshow
6. Real Madrid: Slideshow
7. New York Giants: Slideshow
8. Arsenal: Slideshow
9. New York Jets: Slideshow
10. Houston Texans: Slideshow
• See more teams
The top-earning athletes:
1. Tiger Woods: Slideshow
2. Floyd Mayweather: Slideshow
3. Kobe Bryant: Slideshow
4. Phil Mickelson: Slideshow
5. David Beckham: Slideshow
6. Roger Federer: Slideshow
7. LeBron James: Slideshow
8. Manny Pacquiao: Slideshow
9. Eli Manning: Slideshow
10. Terrell Suggs: Slideshow
• See more athletes