Sports are a fixture in many people’s lives. We cheer for teams, boo them and pay a great deal of money to wear memorabilia and watch them play both in person and on the TV. There are a number of sports teams all over the world, with millions of fans and thousands of players. There are five major sports out there today. Football, Baseball, Hockey, Basketball and Soccer (Football depending on where you live). Each of these sports have their respective championships and histories. With a number of teams competing for glory and a ton of dedicated fans cheering them on from across the globe, the popularity of professional sports is undoubtedly at an all-time high.
Out of all the sports mentioned above, all are represented by certain teams on Forbes’ list of the most valuable sports teams in the world for 2015. This list is a collection of the top 25 found on that list. While every sport is on Forbes’ list there is a lack of one popular pro-sport in this list. Hockey is not featured anywhere here. There are plenty of Baseball, Basketball, Football and even some Soccer teams that you’ll find closer to the end of the list. It’s evidently clear that the market for these four previously mentioned sports is very prosperous right now. These teams are literally worth billions. Between merchandise and tickets and TV ratings, these teams have a lot of opportunities to bring in a ton of revenue. Not to mention the money that potential sponsorships bring in. This list doesn’t concern itself with success but winning sure as helps fill the seats and keeps fans happy. A happy fan is a paying fan.
*All figures are taken from Forbes.
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25 T24. Brooklyn Nets – $1.5 Billion
The Brooklyn Nets aren’t one of the NBA’s most successful franchises, but playing in a market like New York does bring on its share of high expectations, it also ensures a good deal of income, regardless of the team’s success. Just how bad are they? Well they did post the biggest loss in NBA history during the 2013-2014 season. So you get the idea. While previously looking to sell his share of the team, majority shareholder Mikhail Prokhorov is now interested in buying out the Nets. This news coming despite a bad TV deal and one of the higher payrolls in the league.
24 T24. Baltimore Ravens – $1.5 Billion
Just a few years removed from their second Super Bowl win in franchise history, the Baltimore Ravens barely squeak into the top 25, tied with the Nets. Unlike the Nets, Baltimore doesn’t have the luxury of playing in a big market city. However, they’ve appeared in the playoffs six out of the last seven seasons. That’s what’s keeping the fans on the hook. Their average ticket price of $100 ranks eighth in the league. They’ll be able to keep prices that high as long as they keep winning. Now entering their eighth season under John Harbaugh, Baltimore stands as a legitimate contender in the very tough AFC.
23 T22. San Francisco 49ers – $1.6 Billion
The 49ers are coming off a messy and rather unusual breakup with Coach Jim Harbaugh. After getting the team to multiple NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl appearance, Harbaugh lost the locker room in San Francisco. That Super Bowl loss came in 2012 against the Baltimore Ravens. In fact, that's the only Super Bowl loss in franchise history, as they’d won every other one they’d appeared in up to that point. With a new regime in place, the 49ers will look to get back to the post season and make some waves.
22 T22. Los Angeles Clippers – $1.6 Billion
Last year, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer bought the Clippers from Donald Sterling for a cool $2 billion. The second highest offer on the table was $1.6 billion and the third $1.2 billion. It’s no surprise Ballmer was eager to purchase the team, seeing as they’ve made the playoffs the last four years straight and have one of the better young cores in the NBA. While they might get overshadowed by the Lakers at times, the Clippers are definitely the hotter team in LA right now.
21 T20. Chicago Bears – $1.7 Billion
If you ever need any evidence as to how loyal Bears fans are, you’ve just got to look at their ticket prices to get your answer. The team hasn’t been too great over the last few years. Actually they’ve failed to make many waves since their Super Bowl appearance nearly a decade ago, as they haven’t made the playoffs in four years and are now looking to a new head coach to make things better. Despite this they’ve got the fourth highest priced tickets in the NFL and their fan base is still as committed as ever. Now if they could only reward that loyalty with a championship.
20 T20. Boston Celtics – $1.7 Billion
A historic NBA franchise with seventeen championships to their name, the Celtics came off the 2013-2014 season with a losing record. They still failed to break .500 last year, but they still made the playoffs in the weak Eastern Conference. Now in their third season with Brad Stevens, the Celtics have been progressively improving under him. Their place on this list is thanks in due part to the fact that they pay no rent at TD Garden and bring in a whopping $60 million a year in TV revenue.
19 Philadelphia Eagles – $1.75 Billion
No other winning team in the NFL has been surrounded by as much doubt and controversy this offseason as the Philadelphia Eagles. To be more precise, the one under fire is head coach Chip Kelly, who in his third year with the organization and has seemingly made it his mission to replace most of the teams stars with younger – albeit unproven – talent. Despite the fan backlash, Philadelphia has proven to be a winning team. They’ve got the seventh highest revenue in the NFL yet still trail behind all three of their NFC East competitors in that respect.
18 T17. New York Jets – $1.8 Billion
The Rex Ryan era in New York started with plenty of promise, including two straight trips to the AFC Championship game. However, it went straight downhill after that, as the team’s play could never match Ryan’s bravado. They make the list despite a four yearlong playoff drought, unsettled quarterback situation and a fan base that’s running out of patience. Still, playing in New York means that you’re going to bring in the dough. Whether they win or lose, people love talking about the Jets.
17 T17. Chicago Cubs – $1.8 Billion
The first MLB team and second Chicago based franchise to top this list are the Cubs. The team has been struggling and going on nearly a decade without a playoff berth. In the last seven years, the Cubs have continuously come short of the Promised Land and as a result have gone through six different managers in seven seasons. In February, the MLB approved the sale of a minority stake in the team to several investors for a collective $150 million. Chump change when you take into account that the team itself is worth more than ten times that amount.
16 Houston Texans – $1.85 Billion
They’re still a young franchise, but being a Houston Texans fan has not been easy. They’ve sat through thirteen years of misery, only making the playoffs twice in that time frame. After making the playoffs two years in a row, Houston is once again experiencing a postseason drought. They’ve definitely got some great young players, including one of the NFL’s most disruptive forces in J.J.Watt, but is it enough to get them over the hump? Who’s their starting quarterback going into 2015? If there’s one thing that’s haunted Houston, it’s been inconsistent quarterback play. Now in year two, Bill O’Brien will look to turn this team into a winner.
15 T14. San Francisco Giants – $2 Billion
While the football team might be a mess in San Francisco, there’s no questioning that their baseball franchise is doing all the heavy lifting. In the last six years, San Francisco has brought home three World Series titles. The team consistently plays like one of the better teams in the MLB, especially during their championship runs. Now in their tenth season under manager Bruce Bochy, the Giants will look to win back to back titles for the first time since 1922. It’ll be a tough task, but going off the steam from last year’s win will certainly give them a decent advantage.
14 T14. Chicago Bulls – $2 Billion
The Chicago Bulls are definitely one of the most iconic franchises in the NBA today. The team led the NBA in attendance during the 2014-2015 season and it’s the sixth straight year they’ve done so with an average attendance of 21,343 per game. One doesn’t have to look far if wondering why the team is so popular. Though they might be years removed from the days of Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen, the Bulls continue to be a contender in the NBA. They haven’t missed the playoffs since 2008 and while they are close to twenty years removed from their last championship, hopes remain high for another title in the windy city.
13 T12. New York Giants – $2.1 Billion
The Giants are playing in one of the world’s biggest media markets and have come up empty the last few years. That doesn’t bode well for head coach Tom Coughlin, who, despite winning two championships with the team, seems to be on the hot seat more often than not. Now under a new Defensive Coordinator (newish), New York will look to rebound in the tough NFC east with a talented crop of receivers on offense and a whole bunch of question marks on defense. It’ll be a struggle, but the Giants have succeeded with the odds against them before.
12 T12. Boston Red Sox – $2.1 Billion
With two World Series wins in the last decade, you’d think that the Boston Red Sox would be doing well in the MLB. However, as it is with most teams in pro sports, the results are always mixed and never guaranteed. A year after winning the World Series in 2013, Boston won a grand total of 71 games as opposed to 91 losses and finished last in the AL east. This caused TV viewership to drop 36% all the way to an average of 114,000 per game, which was nothing compared to what it was during their championship run.
11 Bayern Munich – $2.35 Billion
The first soccer team – or football depending on where you’re from – on this list is Bayern Munich and the German club is the only German sports team to crack the top 25. Munich is one of the most successful clubs in Europe right now and their success isn’t merely held to their own domestic league. The team has reached the Champions League semi-finals for four straight years. As a result, the club revenue is up 41% over the last couple years.
10 T9. Washington Redskins – $2.4 Billion
Despite the everlasting controversy regarding their team name, the Redskins are one of the most valuable teams in the NFL. While their financials look good, Washington isn’t doing anything on the field. Two years removed from their last playoff berth, the Redskins once looked like they had a franchise quarterback in Robert Griffin III, but now are questioning whether or not he can actually be the guy that leads them to a Super Bowl. The recent struggles are reflected in the decreasing amounts of fans showing up to games, leading in the team having to remove thousands of seats from FedEx Field for the third time in the last five years.
9 T9. Los Angeles Dodgers – $2.4 Billion
The Dodgers are one of the oldest teams in the MLB. With names like Jackie Robinson and Sandy Koufax having dawned their uniforms. there’s no questioning they’re one of the most easily recognizable teams in all of baseball. After a three year playoff drought, they made two straight appearances in 2013 and 2014 and are going strong this year as well. Though they haven’t won a World Series in over 25 years, their fans still love them, as they finished first in the MLB in attendance last year. What’s more, they brought in more than $120 million in TV money last season, the most in baseball.
8 New York Knicks – $2.5 Billion
The team hasn’t won a championship since the 1970s. Last season was a mess and they missed the playoffs for the second straight year. So why are they one of the most valuable sports teams in the world? They’ve got the most expensive tickets in the NBA. New York is a huge city with fans that seem to love complaining about their sports teams more than praising them. With $300 million a year in revenue and outrageously priced $1 million luxury seats, it’s no surprised to see the Knicks ranked so high. So long as they can get people to see their games, they’ll continue bringing in top dollar.
7 T6. New England Patriots – $2.6 Billion
Is it any surprise to see the recent Super Bowl champs ranked so high? Despite the controversies, New England is one of the NFL’s most successful and recognizable teams. In the 15 years that Bill Belichick has been their Head Coach, the team has made six Super Bowl appearances, winning four. If their recent crusade on social media wasn’t any indication, Patriots fans are incredibly loyal. When their team wins that is. So long as they keep making it to the postseason, fans don’t seem to mind paying for the highest priced tickets in the league.
6 T6. Los Angeles Lakers – $2.6 Billion
Once the epitome of success in the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers are now on a downward spiral they seem to be struggling to get out of. After ending 2013 with an awful 27-55 record, the team managed to outdo themselves in 2014, winning only 21 games. All this losing has taken a toll on the team’s ratings. Last year, their TV ratings dropped 27% after dropping 54% the previous year. Fans don’t want to see their teams get manhandled, especially if they’re used to watching them win.
5 Manchester United – 3.1 Billion
In the world of sports, Manchester United has been one of the most recognizable European clubs out there. Their popularity is due mostly to their success over the years and that they stand with Barcelona and Real Madrid (also on this list) as the most populer teams in the soccer world. They’re owned by the Glazer family, who also owns the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They recently signed a jaw dropping $1.1 billion, 10 year sponsorship and advertising deal with Adidas that will begin during the 2015-16 season.
4 Barcelona - $3.16 Billion
Another titan of the international soccer scene is FC Barcelona. The team has a plethora of talented players, none more well-known than Lionel Messi. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that they’re one of the most accomplished teams in all of Europe and they just recently won their fourth Champions League title in the last ten years. What’s more, the win gained Barca $64 million in prize money. That helps increase the team’s revenue to over $650 million for the year. Not bad at all.
3 T2. New York Yankees – $3.2 Billion
The Yankees finished last year with the most attendance in the American League with an average of 42,520 per game. Despite the large showing from their fans, the team missed the playoffs for the second straight season. It was only the third time the team has missed the playoffs since 1994. Luckily for Yankees fans, the team is currently ranked first in the AL East. Who knows, they might even make a push to the World Series.
2 T2. Dallas Cowboys – $3.2 Billion
The Cowboys are the most valuable team in the league, which is not surprising for a franchise that’s picked up the moniker of “America’s Team.” Coming off their first playoff berth since 2009, the Cowboys look towards another Super Bowl after having recently signed star receiver Dez Bryant to a $70 million contract. The time is now for the Cowboys, as Tony Romo’s window is closing. Good thing they’ve got the money to spend on making this team better. They make over $100 million a year in sponsorships and are still fresh off a 25 year, $500 million naming rights deal with AT&T.
1 Real Madrid – $3.26 Billion
The most valuable sports team in the world is none other than Spain’s Real Madrid. The team is a fixture in the sports world and is regarded to be one of the top clubs in all of Europe. While Barselona has Messi, Madrid has Cristiano Ronaldo. The team consistently wins against some of soccer’s best squads, proving they are a dominant force in the soccer world. They won the Champions League for a record tenth time two years ago. What’s more, this is the third straight year that Real Madrid has come out on top as the world’s most valuable sports team.
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