The Most-Expensive Teams in Sports

Nick DimengoFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2014

The Most-Expensive Teams in Sports

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    Andres Kudacki

    As is the goal of any company, sports franchises and their owners are in the business of making money.

    Sure, they care about the fans—or at least we all hope they do—but with a consistent winner, butts will be in the seats, the losses won't pile up, they'll be able to retain or sign free agents and major partnerships will be negotiated.

    Not all teams know how to do things right, though, so I'm giving you the 20 teams that have been the most successful at building their brand, as these are the most-expensive teams in all of sports—you may find the lack of NBA teams surprising.

20. New York Knicks

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    Matt Slocum

    Value: $1.1 billion

    The team might not be performing to expectations this season, but that hasn't stopped fans—or media—from showing up to games or talking about the New York Knicks.

    With the luxury of being in the biggest media market on the planet, the Knicks have successfully maintained a spot on the front-page news, and with their famous home arena, Madison Square Garden, undergoing a makeover late last year, they've upped profit to over $243 million, making them the most valuable franchise in the NBA.

19. Baltimore Ravens

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    Al Behrman

    Value: $1.1 billion

    Although the Baltimore Ravens missed out on the playoffs for the first time under head coach John Harbaugh in 2013, that hasn't prevented them from running a successful organization.

    With just three losing seasons between the franchise's first Super Bowl win in 2000 and their most-recent in 2012, the Ravens have shown to be both consistent in personnel moves and with their roster—even if they did overpay for quarterback Joe Flacco last offseason.

18. Green Bay Packers

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    Mike Roemer

    Value: $1.1 billion

    Arguably the most famous franchise in NFL history, the Green Bay Packers are the only team owned by fans as shareholders, meaning the support is both unique and passionate.

    Raising $67 million in a stock sale a few years ago to help renovate legendary Lambeau Field—adding two HD video boards and additional seating—and stars like Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews III have given fans a reason to wish for Super Bowls over the past few seasons and beyond, with the Pack winning one as recently as 2010.

17. San Francisco 49ers

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    Alex Brandon

    Value: $1.1 billion

    Already worth a boatload before, one can expect the value of the San Francisco 49ers to increase even more following the opening of their new stadium in 2014.

    Add in the team's success—with three-straight NFC Championships and one Super Bowl appearance in the Jim Harbaugh era—and it's easy to see why the Niners have tons of money coming in each season.

    While teams make money a variety of ways, selling the naming rights of the new digs to Levi Strauss earned the franchise $220 million over the next 20 years—which is certain to help the bottom line.

16. Chicago Bears

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    Nam Y. Huh

    Value: $1.1 billion

    Even after having the second-highest ticket prices in the NFL last year at $282, the Chicago Bears announced that they've increased 2014's prices a bit—which is, no doubt, a huge money stream for the team.

    Despite the team having a frustrating one last year, as they faltered down the stretch and missed the playoffs under first-year head coach Marc Trestman, Bears fans are some of the most passionate and loyal in all of sports, meaning they'll continue to fill Soldier Field regardless of prices or under-performance.

15. Philadelphia Eagles

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    Tony Gutierrez

    Value: $1.2 billion

    One of the most-exciting teams to watch in the league last year, the Philadelphia Eagles were dynamic under first-year head coach Chip Kelly.

    Bringing his high-octane, fast-paced offense from Oregon, Kelly had the Eagles soaring into the playoffs, going 7-1 in the second half of the season to host a Wild Card Game—which they lost to the New Orleans Saints.

    Enjoying success since opening their new stadium in 2003, Eagles fans have continuously shown loyalty by packing the place, and the team rewarded them with a $125 million renovation before last season.

14. New York Jets

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    Lynne Sladky

    Value: $1.2 billion

    Sure, the New York Jets have seemed to be overhyped since their back-to-back AFC Title Game appearances in 2009 and 2010, but they still play in New York—OK, technically New Jersey—and have a state-of-the-art, $1.4 billion stadium.

    Hoping to continue to pack the place—and bring in additional revenue through parking and concessions—the team will cut ticket prices for the third-straight season in 2014.

    Don't be fooled, though, "Gang Green" is still making plenty.

13. Houston Texans

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    Patric Schneider

    Value: $1.3 billion

    The Houston Texans had a miserable 2013 season after coming in as a potential Super Bowl contender, but they're still one of the most profitable teams in all of sports.

    Thanks to 200 luxury suites and 8,900 club seats generating $47 million each season, the team makes bank from just a certain portion of their seating options, on top of bringing in $12 million a year thanks to the third-largest stadium naming rights deal in the NFL.

    With the first pick in this year's draft, they'll have another star to help market as the face of the franchise—and generate more money through jersey sales.

12. Bayern Munich

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    Michael Sohn

    Value: $1.3 billion

    Not only has German soccer club Bayern Munich won the past two Bundesliga titles, they've played in three of the last four Champions League Finals, winning last season.

    While that success has no doubt added value to the club, the main revenue comes from the team's sponsorship deal with T-Mobile, who not only display a logo across the jersey, but have other signage around the stadium, too.

    That came following the renegotiation in 2012, which should generate $150 million over the length of the deal.

11. Boston Red Sox

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    David J. Phillip

    Value: $1.3 billion

    Good things supposedly come to those who wait.

    After an 86-year drought that had Boston Red Sox fans fearing that the "Curse of the Bambino" would never be lifted, the franchise has won three World Series titles in the past decade.

    No longer the lovable losers, the BoSox have used winning and strong business decisions to increase both popularity and the worth of the franchise.

10. Arsenal

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    Matt Dunham

    Value: $1.3 billion

    With 13 English league titles and eight runner-up finishes in their storied history, Arsenal have built one of the biggest brands in the world.

    They prove that by continuously selling out the Emirates Stadium, which generates a staggering $154 million on match days through ticket sales, merchandise and concessions.

    Add in The Gunners' $249 million, five-year sponsorship deal with Emirates, and it's easy to see why they land on this list.

9. New York Giants

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    Bill Kostroun

    Value: $1.4 billion

    The New York Giants didn't make the playoffs in 2013, but that didn't mean they struggled financially.

    That's usually the case when a team has had the highest average ticket price in the NFL for past two years.

    With a franchise quarterback in Eli Manning, who has led the team to two Super Bowls in the past seven seasons, along with revenue from MetLife for stadium rights over the next 25 years, the Giants will annually find themselves among the most profitable sports franchises.

8. Washington Redskins

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    Evan Vucci

    Value: $1.6 billion

    Although the Washington Redskins haven't had the same success as their divisional rival the New York Giants recently, they still can claim to at least trump the "G-Men" in one area—profitability.

    That's because the Skins have grown to a $1.6 billion valuation.

    A lot of that can be attributed to the buzz around quarterback Robert Griffin III, who, during his rookie campaign of 2012, not only sold the most jersey's of any player in the league, but also set a record in doing so.

7. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Ross D. Franklin

    Value: $1.6 billion

    After finding themselves as the most-expensive sports team purchase in history back in 2012, it was only natural to see the L.A. Dodgers find themselves high on this list.

    That's usually the case when nearly $6 billion will be flooding in over the next 25 years thanks to a ridiculous TV deal with Time Warner Cable that was finalized last summer.

    With that type of loot, the team has been able to stay aggressive in free agency and trades, inking pitcher Zack Greinke to a mega-deal before last season, eating a bunch of salary in a trade with the Boston Red Sox in 2012 and locking up Cy Young-winning pitcher Clayton Kershaw a few months ago.

6. New England Patriots

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    Steven Senne

    Value: $ 1.6 billion

    It helps generate money when fans come to a team's stadium every single game—as the case has been with the New England Patriots, who haven't had an open seat in over 20 years.

    It also doesn't hurt when that same team has played in six Super Bowls—winning three—in the same time frame, and have arguably the greatest player-coach duo in the history of the NFL.

5. Dallas Cowboys

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    Bill Haber

    Value: $2.1 billion

    Looking back, it's pretty remarkable that Dallas Cowboys Owner/GM Jerry Jones bought the club for just $140 million back in 1989.

    That is, of course, because he has turned the organization into the highest-valued team in the NFL, coming in at $2.1 billion.

    After opening his $1.2 billion stadium in 2009, Jones has parlayed that into multiple sponsorship and premium seating deals that annually bring in tons of cash, while also receiving $18 million a year from AT&T for the company to bear its name on the thing.

    Nicely played, Jerry.

4. New York Yankees

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    Kathy Willens

    Value: $2.3 billion

    There are three things that the New York Yankees are most-associated with—Babe Ruth, pinstripes and winning.

    It's that latter one that has produced the most money for the team, as they've won an MLB-record 27 World Series titles and becoming known as the "Evil Empire" in baseball for their penchant for throwing money around.

    With a $1.5 billion TV deal that will pay the club silly amounts of money until 2042, the only thing that can stop the Yanks from being the Yanks is themselves.

3. FC Barcelona

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    Manu Fernandez

    Value: $2.6 billion

    Arguably the best striker in the world, Lionel Messi has helped maintain and guide FC Barcelona to new heights.

    But while the club has enjoyed great success, it's sponsorship deals that bring in the most money, and last season the team broke tradition by inking a lucrative deal with Qatar Airways to wear the airline's logo across their uniforms.

    The agreement pays Barca $34 million a season, which is probably the reason why the tradition was broken.

2. Manchester United

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    Sang Tan

    Value: $3.1 billion

    As much as the New York Yankees are arguably the most-recognized sports brand in the world, the English Premier League's Manchester United aren't too far behind.

    With a record 20 titles and 15 runner-up finishes in the league—along with three Champions League wins—The Red Devils can seemingly do no wrong.

    All that winning translates into lots of dollars, with the most-lucrative cash coming from General Motors, who, in 2012, announced it would be paying the club $559 million over seven years.

1. Real Madrid

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    Paul White

    Value: $3.3 billion

    There's a reason why Spanish club Real Madrid continuously acquire big-name talents such as Gareth Bale to put alongside top striker, Cristiano Ronaldo.

    They have lots of cash to blow.

    That's because the club secured a five-year deal with Emirates Airlines last year that pays them $39 million per season, on top of a $41 million agreement with Adidas, which was signed in 2012.