- The Washington Times - Friday, August 29, 2003

The Washington Redskins’ economic march into the record books continued yesterday as Forbes Magazine estimated the team’s value at $952million, 13 percent higher than a year ago and another all-time high for American sports.

Expectations were heavy last week for Forbes to assign a value of about $1billion to the Redskins. Fueling those projections was owner Dan Snyder’s recent sale of about a fifth of the team’s equity to three investors for $200million. And industry magazine SportsBusiness Journal, quoting financial sources, recently pegged the Redskins’ total holdings, including FedEx Field, at $1.3billion to $1.5billion.

But Forbes’ editors did not include that recent Redskins equity transfer into their computations. Rather, the magazine’s formula employed simple multiples of annual revenue. The Redskins garnered $227million in revenue in 2002, according to Forbes, and that number was multiplied by a factor of 4.19.

“Our formula is still multiples of revenue. That’s basically the industry standard, though there were some adjustments for some individual teams, such as the [Philadelphia] Eagles that are moving into new stadiums,” said Forbes editor Michael Ozanian. “And looking at the NFL, both the multiples and the revenues themselves are still very healthy. That’s not a surprise looking at their TV, licensing, and so forth.”

The Redskins topped the closely watched Forbes list for the fourth consecutive year, easily outdistancing second place Dallas, worth an estimated $851million. Since Snyder purchased the team in 1999, the Redskins’ four first-place finishes have all been U.S. records. British soccer power Manchester United briefly hit $1billion total stock value five years ago but now stands nowhere near that mark.

Also during Snyder’s tenure — marked by heavy increases in sponsorship revenue, the addition of several thousand luxury seats at FedEx Field and sharp spikes in prices for tickets, parking and concessions — the Redskins’ value has soared 57 percent.

Redskins officials declined to comment on the Forbes report. Like other sports team owners, NFL owners typically dispute the annual rankings. But where owners in other sports typically complain of the magazine overestimating revenue and profit totals, many NFL owners find their numbers too conservative.

The NFL average franchise value this year, according to Forbes, is $628million. The Baltimore Ravens, who will see the end of Art Modell’s majority control after this season, ranked eighth with an estimated value of $649million.

Buttressing the NFL values is the league’s eight-year, $17.6billion package of TV contracts with four TV networks. The deal, set to expire after the 2005 season, is now entering the more lucrative back end in which annual payments escalate more sharply. Further padding that total is the new five year, $2billion deal with DirecTV to continue the popular Sunday Ticket out-of-market game package.

In yet another show of the NFL’s dominance, the Arizona Cardinals ranked 32nd and last in the league at $505million. The figure is still more than double what baseball’s Anaheim Angels, the reigning World Series champions, sold for earlier this year.

The New York Yankees are the most valuable baseball team according to Forbes at $849million. The Los Angeles Lakers lead the NBA at $426million. The Detroit Red Wings top the NHL list at $266million.