Every year, Forbes puts together a ranking of the most valuable franchises across the world of professional sports. They rank out teams based on a variety of financial factors, and this year, the San Francisco 49ers came in at No. 9. Forbes values the franchise at $3 billion. A year ago they ranked No. 10, and were given an estimated value of $2.7 billion.
1. Dallas Cowboys - $4.2 billion (5 percent)
2. New York Yankees - $3.7 billion (9 percent)
3. Manchester United - $3.69 billion (11 percent)
4. Barcelona - $3.64 billion (2 percent)
5. Real Madrid - $3.58 billion (-2 percent)
6. New England Patriots - $3.4 billion (6 percent)
7. New York Knicks - $3.3 billion (10 percent)
8. New York Giants - $3.1 billion (11 percent)
9. San Francisco 49ers - $3 billion (11 percent)
The Forbes list makes for interesting discussion, but they don’t do the best job showing their math. By that, I mean that most professional sports teams are private businesses. They are not required to release information, and so a lot of time it is gathering information from whatever sources they can find. It is not always going to be the best apples-to-apples comparison of financial documents.
The 49ers page on Forbes shows the $3 billion value, but appears to be based on information as of last September when the number was last updated. We don’t know for certain what the 49ers revenue is, but given that they sold out Levi’s Stadium out of the gate, revenue is not an issue. The team has had no-shows as the on-field product has gone in the tank the past couple years, but I imagine the hiring of Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch has brought some renewed optimism for some fans.
Even though I take Forbes valuations with a grain of salt, I don’t think anybody would doubt that the 49ers are among the most valuable franchises in the NFL. They have their new stadium, and while fans have been pissed off in recent years, they’re still earning plenty of revenue from SBLs, seats, and luxury suites.
Last year, Forbes valued the 49ers at $2.7 billion. They had climbed from a previous value of $1.6 billion. The value is incredible, but the 49ers, and really most NFL franchises will not be sold anytime soon. The only reasons at this point to sell are when an owner passes away and the family can’t deal with the estate taxes. But any team with a new stadium is going to have the opportunity to bring in considerable revenue and prepare for when estate taxes become an issue.
The 49ers organization is in pretty good shape at the moment. It has had problems with the city of Santa Clara, and plenty of people are still annoyed the team left San Francisco, but other than that, things seem to be back on the upswing. The organization is a cash cow, and if Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch pan out, fans might start to forget about how ugly it got at the end of the Jim Harbaugh era.