On Wednesday, Forbes released their list of the World’s 50 most valuable sports teams for 2016. The Ravens are valued at $1.93 billion which represents a 29 percent increase from last year and makes them the 27th most valuable franchise in the world.
According to Forbes, the Ravens are the most valuable team in the AFC North division. The Steelers are 29th at $1.9 billion, the Browns are 47th at $1.5 billion and the Bengals are not included in the top 50. The Ravens are the 12th most valuable team in the NFL. Not bad for one of the smallest television markets in the league.
The top five teams across all leagues are the Dallas Cowboys ($4 billion), Real Madrid ($3.65 billion), Barcelona ($3.55 billion), the New York Yankees ($3.4 billion) and Manchester United ($3.32 billion). The NFL leads all professional leagues with 27 of the top 50 franchises and an average team value of $2.2 billion, followed by the NBA with eight, European soccer with eight and MLB with seven teams in the top 50.
Ravens team owner Steve Biscotti has benefited from dramatic appreciation. Previous owner Art Modell, desperate for a cash infusion, sold 49 percent of the team to Biscotti in 2000 for $275 million. Biscotti then exercised his option to purchase the remaining 51 percent of the team for $325 million in 2004. The NFL’s lucrative television deals fueled in large part but the popularity of fantasy football, have more than doubled the value of all teams over the last decade. In 2014, the NFL generated $2.4 billion in operating profit.
The Ravens passionate fan base has allowed the team to punch above their weight. The Ravens have sold out every game played at M&T Bank stadium since 2005. The team has experienced great success, including a recent Super Bowl Championship in 2012. Multiple publications regard the Ravens fans among the top tier of all fans in the country. These factors have allowed the team to expand their geographical footprint to outpace teams with longer histories and from larger population centers.
Does former commissioner Paul Tagliabue still believe the city of Baltimore would have been better served by building a museum with the funds earmarked for an NFL stadium? Doubtful at best.