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The NFL’s Most Valuable Teams 2020 | The Countdown | Forbes



The average franchise value tops $3 billion for the first time this year, according to the Forbes ranking of the league’s most valuable teams, while four of its 32 teams—Dallas Cowboys (No. 1, $5.7 billion), New England Patriots (No. 2, $4.4 billion), Giants (No. 3, $4.3 billion) and Rams (No. 4, $4 billion)—are worth at least $4 billion. Click here for the complete table of valuations and historical statistics on every team.

They can thank football’s unrivaled ability among U.S. sports leagues to deliver profits. “There are two main things you care about when you are buying a team: How much do I have to pay to get the team, and how much money can I take out of the team (from profits) or have to put into the team (to cover losses) in the future?” says Sal Galatioto, president of the sports banking firm that bears his name, Galatioto Sports Partners.

Last season, NFL franchises posted $477 million of revenue, on average, and generated $109 million of operating income per team, trouncing the NBA ($70 million), MLB ($50 million) and the NHL ($25 million).

That helped the league start this season with scant debt relative to team values, despite some $10 billion of credit that it can make available to teams at cheaper rates than they could borrow individually because the debt is backed by the league’s long-term, guaranteed media deals. NFL team owners can stack up to $500 million of debt on their teams and another $150 million of debt on a special purpose entity.

And while the pandemic is likely to cut average team revenue by about a third and leave the NFL facing a break-even year, the downturn will be short lived. The NFL will likely soon sign new national media rights deals that will begin in 2023 and are expected to average roughly $15 billion a year, twice the value of its current media agreements.

Revenues and operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) are for the 2019 season and net of stadium debt service. Debt includes both team and stadium debt recourse to team owners. We employ the cash basis, rather than the accrual basis, of accounting.

Team values are enterprise values (equity plus net debt) and include the economics (including non-NFL revenue that accrues to the team’s owner) of the team’s stadium but not the value of its real estate itself. For Los Angeles’ Rams and Chargers, as well as the Las Vegas Raiders, we have adjusted our values for their new stadiums, which open this season.

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