After taking in the news yesterday that New York City FC are among the 50 most valuable soccer clubs in the world per sports business publication Sportico, we wondered where NYCFC would rank among the most valuable sports franchises in North America.
After all, NYCFC are seemingly worth more than all but six English Premier League clubs. To go by the numbers, New York City’s $690 million valuation places it above West Ham United, Aston Villa, and Newcastle United — which was bought in 2021 for an estimated $415 million.
Because we like making tables, we decided to combine the valuations for all the major sports leagues in the United States and Canada. The question we wanted to answer: If NYCFC can hold their own against Ajax, Guadalajara, and Napoli, could they do it in Tennessee against the Nashville Predators and the Memphis Grizzlies?
The short answer? No.
The big leagues
That’s right, NYCFC are worth more than just 27 clubs. The math is fairly simple. Not a single MLS team would crack the valuations for clubs in MLB (30 teams), the NFL (32 teams), and the NBA (30 teams). Every team in these three leagues is a billion-dollar franchise — the least valuable among them, MLB’s Florida Marlins, are worth $1.07 billion.
Sportico: The Most Valuable Sports Franchises in North America
|1||Dallas Cowboys||NFL||$7.64 billion|
|2||Golden State Warriors||NBA||$7.56 billion|
|3||New York Yankees||MLB||$7.13 billion|
|4||New York Knicks||NBA||$6.58 billion|
|5||Los Angeles Lakers||NBA||$6.44 billion|
|6||Los Angeles Rams||NFL||$5.91 billion|
|7||New England Patriots||NFL||$5.88 billion|
|8||New York Giants||NFL||$5.73 billion|
|9||Los Angeles Dodgers||MLB||$5.24 billion|
|10||Boston Red Sox||MLB||$5.18 billion|
Only the NHL is in play. The valuations of clubs in that 32-team league range from a high of $2.12 billion for the Toronto Maple Leafs to a low of $465 million for the Arizona Coyotes. Even LAFC’s high-flying $900 million valuation per Sportico would drop them in at #16 in the NHL, even with the Pittsburgh Penguins — that’s good for #108 in all of professional sports in the United States and Canada.
The publication’s valuation of NYCFC at $690 million places it at #7 for MLS clubs. That works out to #123 on the four-league list, right behind Toronto FC ($705 million) and DC United ($700 million), and just above Portland Timbers ($685 million) and the Ottawa Senators ($655 million).
Sportico: The Most Valuable Sports Franchises in North America 105 – 130
|105||New York Islanders||NHL||$920 million|
|106||Dallas Stars||NHL||$915 million|
|107||Tampa Bay Lightening||NHL||$910 million|
|108||Pittsburgh Penguins||NHL||$900 million|
|110||Seattle Kraken||NHL||$890 million|
|111||Calgary Flames||NHL||$870 million|
|112||LA Galaxy||MLS||$865 million|
|113||Atlanta United||MLS||$855 million|
|114||Minnesota Wild||NHL||$850 million|
|115||New Jersey Devils||NHL||$825 million|
|116||Winnipeg Jets||NHL||$805 million|
|117||St. Louis Blues||NHL||$770 million|
|118||Anaheim Ducks||NHL||$765 million|
|119||San Jose Sharks||NHL||$755 million|
|120||Seattle Sounders||MLS||$725 million|
|121||Toronto FC||MLS||$705 million|
|122||DC United||MLS||$700 million|
|124||Portland Timbers||MLS||$685 million|
|125||Ottawa Senators||NHL||$655 million|
|126||Buffalo Sabres||NHL||$635 million|
|127||Austin FC||MLS||$630 million|
|128||Carolina Hurricanes||NHL||$615 million|
|129||Columbus Blue Jackets||NHL||$600 million|
|130||Florida Panthers||NHL||$595 million|
MLS glamor club LAFC might be worth $900 million (or $1 billion, according to Forbes), which puts it at #16 on the list of the 50 most valuable soccer teams in the world, right behind Inter Milan ($1.1 billion). But the current MLS Cup holders are worth less than NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights ($975 million). It’s good to know your place.
International exchange rate
The economic muscle of professional sports in North America is readily apparent when you look at the Top 10 franchise from the combined leagues. The figures are eye-watering.
Compare those figures to the ones Sportico ran yesterday detailing the 50 most valuable soccer clubs in the world. The only global soccer superclubs that could crack this list are Manchester United ($5.95 billion) and Real Madrid ($5.23 billion). Even Barcelona, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, and Manchester City don’t make the cut.
Even more dramatic, the values of most of the teams in the EPL, Italy’s Serie A, Spain’s La Liga, and German’s Bundesliga would put them at the very bottom of the NHL, if that. Portugal’s FC Porto might be a distinguished club that dates to 1893, are worth the same $595 million as the Florida Panthers, the NHL franchise that started playing in 1993.
As Sportico explains, the valuations come from assessing three main sources of income, “broadcast, commercial, and matchday” revenue. The television deals for the English Premier League as a whole, and Real Madrid and Barcelona on their own, are strong, but so are the contracts for MLB, the NBA, and the NFL. Ditto commercial revenue, which consists of corporate sponsors, naming rights, merchandise sales, and non-matchday events — Taylor Swift’s “Eras Tour” is going to make bank for a number of clubs.
A couple of caveats regarding these figures.
One, we only used numbers from Sportico to keep things consistent. Sprortico’s
accounting department interns with spreadsheets might be flawed, but at least their flaws should theoretically remain the same from team to team, league to league.
Two, the figures we use are from the most recent available posts. The NFL (August 2022), MLS (September 2022), NHL (November 2022), and NBA (December 2022) are all from last year, while MLB (March 2023) was published just last month. Note that there is no St. Louis City included in the numbers from MLS, which had 28 teams last year.
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Three and most important, all of these numbers are mostly made up. As we noted in our February story about Forbes valuing NYCFC at $800 million, the publications don’t conduct audits, and the clubs are under no obligation to disclose their finances. “These valuations are entirely speculative, estimations based not just on attendance and merchandising, but vibes,” we wrote then.
Still, numbers are fun. Are the Anaheim Ducks really worth more than the Seattle Sounders? We hope not. An NHL team that came in dead last in the league this past year, and that was established by the Walt Disney Company as a movie tie-in for the forgettable 1992 Emilio Estevez vehicle “The Mighty Ducks,” has no business outranking one of the most
insufferable well-run clubs in MLS. But that’s what the table says.