The World’s Most Valuable Sports Empires 2022 (2022)

The New York Yankees are Major League Baseball’s most valuable franchise, worth $5.25 billion by Forbes’ count last year. But the team’s owners haven’t stopped there: Yankee Global Enterprises also has stakes in reigning MLS champion New York City FC, the YES Network and Legends Hospitality—which works with sports and entertainment organizations and venues in areas like hospitality, partnerships, concessions and merchandise—and it has a small equity stake in the Professional Fighters League, an MMA promotion. The additional holdings push the total value of the company’s sports properties to $6.81 billion. (Full disclosure: I am co-host of the YES Network’s Forbes SportsMoney show.)

The story is much the same at AMB Group, which owns both the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and MLS’s Atlanta United, as well as golf retailer PGA Tour Superstore. Monumental Sports & Entertainment’s portfolio includes the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the NHL’s Washington Capitals and the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, plus investments in esports and a regional sports network for digital, mobile and OTT platforms that had combined revenue of $500 million before the pandemic, according to Monumental owner Ted Leonsis. Andby dint of their league’s investments, a number of sports ownership groups in MLB,the NFL and the NBA have a piece of Fanatics, the sportsmerchandising, licensing, trading card and NFT behemoth run by Michael Rubin.

These sports empires are more valuable than ever, led by Liberty Media. Liberty has total ownership of reigning World Series champion Atlanta Braves and the team’s mixed-use real estate project, as well as the auto-racing promotion Formula 1, and it has minority stakes in the Drone Racing League, the Meyer Shank auto-racing team and the Kroenke Arena Company (owner of the Ball Arena, home of the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche). Total enterprise value: $17.2 billion, an increase of 32% from last year, driven by big gains in revenue and operating income (in the sense of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) for the Braves and Formula 1 over the past year.

Investors can easily bet on Liberty’s sports assets through tracking stocks, but the private sports empires are attracting smart money as well. Investors believe they have enormous upside, not only because sports team investments have generally delivered superior returns to stocks but also because the companies and individuals behind the sports behemoths have a proven track record of scalability via their collection of teams and media, technology, gambling, retail and real estate properties.

No doubt that’s what RedBird Capital and Arctos Sports Partners were thinking when they bought stakes in Fenway Sports Group last year. Ditto Silver Lake Partners’ $500 million investment in City Football Group two years ago. And with private equity recently entering the fray after sports leagues changed their ownership rules to open their pearly gates to Wall Street, the money flowing in will fuel even bigger sports empires.

This year, we have expanded our sports empires ranking to 25, from 20. Comparing this year’s top 20 with last year’s list shows an increase in aggregate enterprise value of 22%, to $124 billion, from $102 billion. Much of the increase has to do with new media deals driving up team values in the NFL and the NHL. For instance, in December, Fenway Sports Group paid about $900 million for the Pittsburgh Penguins, nearly nine times what Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle paid for the NHL team in 1999. The Penguins’ 10% annualized price appreciation was 64% better than the increase in the S&P 500 stock index during the same period.

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Debuting on the list this year with a huge splash is Shahid Khan, who followed up his purchase of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011 with the acquisition of Fulham FC two years later. The purchase of the English soccer team also got Khan several acres of incredibly valuable real estate. Then, in 2019, Khan launched the pro-wrestling promotion All Elite Wrestling, run by his son, Tony. Add it all up, and Khan’s empire comes in at No. 12 at $4.8 billion, a figure that will undoubtably rise when the Riverside Stand on the land is opened later this year.

No one in sports has leveraged real estate better than Jerry Jones. The Dallas Cowboys owner, whose empire ranks fourth at $8.85 billion, spent some $1.5 billion on the Star, the NFL team’s headquarters and practice facility that includes the Ford Center, which hosts events ranging from gymnastics to Sesame Street Live. The 91-acre campus also has no shortage of places to shop and eat. The project is now worth about $2 billion, according to experts.

Partnering with another team—even one outside the U.S.—has helped the York family, owners of the San Francisco 49ers, increase the value of its empire to $4.31 billion, from $3.76 a year ago. By linking up with Leeds United, the 49ers have not only obtained a 44% stake in an English soccer team whose value has more than tripled, to $470 million, since 2018 when the Yorks first bought in, but also found a way to expand their brand overseas at a time when the NFL is awarding international business rights to its teams. The deal has worked out very well for Leeds, too.

Here are the 25 most valuable sports empires.

1. Liberty Media

Value: $17.20 billion

Properties: Atlanta Braves, Formula 1, Drone Racing League*, Kroenke Arena Company*, Meyer Shank Racing*

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Key People: John Malone (chairman), Greg Maffei (president and CEO)

2. Kroenke Sports & Entertainment

Value: $10.54 billion

Properties: Los Angeles Rams, Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets, Arsenal FC, esports investments, Colorado Rapids, Colorado Mammoth, Altitude Sports and Entertainment, Kroenke Arena Company

Key Person: Stan Kroenke (chairman)

3. Fenway Sports Group

Value: $9.81 billion

Properties: Boston Red Sox, Liverpool FC, Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing*, NESN, Fenway Sports Management, Pittsburgh Penguins, real estate

Key People: John Henry (principal owner), Tom Werner (chairman)

4. Jerry Jones

Value: $8.85 billion

Properties: Dallas Cowboys, Legends Hospitality*, The Star, Complexity Gaming

5. Madison Square Garden Sports

Value: $7.84 billion

Properties: New York Knicks, New York Rangers, Counter Logic Gaming, Hartford Wolf Pack

Key Person: James Dolan (executive chairman)

6. Yankee Global Enterprises

Value: $6.81 billion

Properties: New York Yankees, Legends Hospitality*, YES Network*, New York City FC*, minor league baseball teams

Key Person: Hal Steinbrenner (CEO and chairman)

7. Kraft family

Value: $5.88 billion

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Properties: New England Patriots, New England Revolution, UFC*, Kraft Analytics Group, DraftKings*, Skillz*, Boston Uprising

8. Glazer family

Value: $5.84 billion

Properties: Manchester United, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

9. Paul G. Allen Trust

Value: $5.69 billion

Properties: Seattle Seahawks, Portland Trail Blazers, Seattle Sounders*

10. City Football Group

Value: $5.00 billion

Properties: Manchester City, New York City FC, Melbourne City FC

11. Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment

Value: $4.98 billion

Properties: Toronto Raptors, Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto FC, Toronto Argonauts, Toronto Marlies

12. Shahid Khan

Value: $4.80 billion

Properties: Jacksonville Jaguars, Fulham FC, All Elite Wrestling

13. Benson family

Value: $4.35 billion

Properties: New Orleans Saints, New Orleans Pelicans

14. York family

Value: $4.31 billion

Properties: San Francisco 49ers, Leeds United FC*, Elevate Sports Ventures*

15. Dan Snyder

Value: $4.20 billion

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Properties: Washington Football Team

16. Johnson family

Value: $4.05 billion

Properties: New York Jets

17. AMB Group

Value: $3.65 billion

Properties: Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United, PGA Tour Superstore

Key Person: Arthur Blank (chairman)

18. Buss Family Trust

Value: $3.63 billion

Properties: Los Angeles Lakers

19. Guggenheim Baseball Management

Value: $3.54 billion

Properties: Los Angeles Dodgers, Spectrum SportsNet LA

Key Person: Mark Walter (CEO)

20. Jeffrey Lurie

Value: $3.50 billion

Properties: Philadelphia Eagles

21. Stephen Ross

Value: $3.45 billion

Properties: Miami Dolphins, Drone Racing League*, Champions Cup, Miami Open

22. Steve Ballmer

Value: $3.35 billion

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Properties: Los Angeles Clippers, The Forum

23. Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment

Value: $3.33 billion

Properties: Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Devils, New Meta Entertainment*, Elevate Sports Ventures*, HBSE Ventures, Utica Comets

Key People: Josh Harris (managing partner), David Blitzer (co-managing partner)

24. Monumental Sports & Entertainment

Value: $3.32 billion

Properties: Washington Wizards, Washington Capitals, Washington Mystics, aXiomatic Gaming*, NBC Sports Washington*, Monumental Sports Network, Sportradar*

Key Person: Ted Leonsis (managing partner)

25. Tepper Sports & Entertainment

Value: $3.31 billion

Properties: Carolina Panthers, Charlotte FC

Key Person: David Tepper (owner)

* Indicates ownership of 50% or less.

Methodology

To compile our scorecard of the most valuable sports empires, we screened our database of the most valuable teams from theNFL,MLB, theNBA, theNHLandsoccerfor people or companies whose holdings in these teams were above $2 billion. For MLS team values, we mostly relied on Sportico. For other sports-related assets included in the empires, we spoke with owners, analysts and industry experts.

Only people or entities with a majority interest in at least one team were eligible. Thus, Barcelona, the world’s most valuable soccer team at $4.76 billion, was excluded from our empires list because the Spanish soccer team is owned by more than 140,000 club members. Likewise, Michael Rubin and Fanaticsare excluded from our list, despite his minority ownership in sports teams and the company’s dominance in sports apparel merchandise.

We include enterprise values only for the most valuable parent company or managing partner of the sports-related assets. For example, the teams owned by Joshua Harris and David Blitzer are included in Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, but Blitzer’s ownership in MLS’s Real Salt Lake is separate from HBSE and is therefore excluded from the total valuation. For team owners that own their venue, like Monumental Sports & Entertainment, we do not list the venue (Capital One Arena) because its economics are included in the value of its teams (Wizards, Capitals, Mystics).

We use enterprise values, which include debt. This diverges fromForbes’ net worth estimates for individuals, which are net of debt.

FAQs

What is the highest valued sports team in the World? ›

Dallas Cowboys

Who is the richest owner of a sports team? ›

Once again, Steve Ballmer is the richest owner in all of professional sports. The former Microsoft CEO, who purchased the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014 for $2 billion, was named the richest owner in sports for the eighth straight year Wednesday by Forbes.

Which pro sports league makes the most money? ›

Top 10 Largest Sports Leagues by Revenue in the World 2020
RankSports LeagueRevenue (USD billions)
1NFL16
2MLB10.7
3NBA8.8
4EPL7.3
6 more rows
29 Jul 2022

Why are American sports teams so valuable? ›

In the US, the number of teams is limited, making it more valuable to own one. American teams also have a salary cap, meaning that one of the major expenditures of sports teams is kept well under control. The leagues have no concept of relegation.

What is the second most popular sport in the world 2022? ›

Football/Soccer

The sport has roughly 3.5 billion fans worldwide and 250 million players across 200 countries around the world. The next most popular sports in the world are cricket (2.5 billion fans), basketball (2.2 billion fans), and field hockey (2 billion).

How much is Barcelona worth? ›

Spain's FC Barcelona is one of the second-richest football clubs in the world in 2022. Its net worth is valued at $5 billion, with a revenue of $692 million in 2021.

How much is the NFL worth? ›

With skyrocketing revenue and mouth-watering profitability, NFL teams are now worth $4.47 billion on average, 28% more than just a year ago.

Who is richest football owner? ›

The wealthiest football club owner in the world in 2022 is Sheikh Mansour. He owns Manchester City and has a net worth of $30 billion.

Does anyone own 2 professional sports teams? ›

Terry Pegula owns the Buffalo Bills, of the NFL , and the Buffalo Sabres of the NHL.

How do sports owners make money? ›

Besides large media contracts and more tangible items like tickets and concessions, professional sports leagues and teams also make a large sum of money by selling companies the rights to sell items that represent their league or team.

What is the most watched sport in the world? ›

Soccer is the most popular sport in the world and the UEFA Champions League Final is one of its biggest events.

What is the biggest sport league in the world? ›

Top 10 Biggest Sports Leagues in the World
  • National Football League. The National Football League (NFL) is a federation of professional American football associations. ...
  • Indian Premier League. ...
  • Major League Baseball. ...
  • National Basketball Association. ...
  • English Premier League. ...
  • National Hockey League. ...
  • La Liga Santander. ...
  • Bundesliga.
4 Aug 2022

Is IPL bigger than NBA? ›

Making the announcement, BCCI Secretary Jay Shah said that IPL had emerged as the second-most valuable sports league in the world, after the American National Football League (NFL), also having surpassed the English Premier League (EPL), Major League Baseball (MLB), and National Basketball Association league (NBA).

Is the NFL the richest league in the world? ›

In 2021, the league earned $16 Billion and the amount is only expected to rise. Thus the National Football League is the world's richest and biggest sports league.

How do sports teams make money? ›

Professional sports teams are valuable properties, worth billions of dollars. Ticket sales, merchandise, broadcast rights, and marketing deals all contribute to the value of a franchise.

What is the largest US city without one of the big four professional sports teams? ›

Louis Rams moved back to Los Angeles, Houston, which lacks an NHL team, became the largest metropolitan area that does not have a franchise in all four major professional sports.

What is the least valued sports franchise? ›

As of 2017, the lowest valued team, the Buffalo Bills, is worth $1.5 billion.

How much are the Cowboys worth 2022? ›

Six of the world's top 10 teams in franchise value are American pro football teams, according to the Forbes valuation list for 2022. The list, released Thursday, pegs the Cowboys and Patriots as the most valuable team brands, estimating their worth at $8 billion and $6.4 billion, respectively.

How much is the NBA worth? ›

The Knicks ($5.8 billion), Warriors ($5.6 billion) and Lakers ($5.5 billion) each cleared the $5 billion mark on Forbes' latest list of the most valuable NBA franchises.
...
List of NBA team values for 2021-22 season.
RankingTeamEstimated value
29.Pelicans$1.53 billion
30.Grizzlies$1.5 billion
28 more rows
2 Jun 2022

Who makes more money Leafs or Raptors? ›

The Raps lead the bunch valued at $1.8 billion, followed by the Jays at $1.5 billion. The Leafs sit third in the group with a valuation of $1.45 billion. Per Forbes, the Raptors rank fifth in the biggest value gainers over the past five years at 222%.

What is the cheapest football team to buy? ›

NFL teams on average are worth $4.14 billion, 18 percent more than last year, with the cheapest team the Cincinnati Bengals at $2.84 billion, a new valuation study from Sportico reports.

What is the cheapest NFL team worth? ›

The Cincinnati Bengals were deemed the least-valuable NFL franchise at US$2.84 billion, which put them narrow behind the Detroit Lions (US$2.86 billion).

How much is the NFL worth as a whole? ›

Collectively, the value of NFL franchises, including team-related businesses and real estate held by owners, is $132 billion.

Which NFL team is the richest? ›

The latest ranking reported that the Dallas Cowboys is the most valuable NFL franchise after the 2021 NFL season. The fastest growing NFL franchise is the Buffalo Bills, with a 112.5% increase in valuation since the 2017 NFL season ($1.6 to $3.4 billion).

Which football team is the richest? ›

Real Madrid - $5.1 billion

Real Madrid is the richest football club in the world in 2022. It has a net value of $5.1 billion as of 2022. This team is based in Spain and is owned by various club members. It plays in the Spanish La Liga and is arguably the best soccer team in the world, at least financially, as of 2022.

Who is the highest paid NFL player? ›

The list is loaded with quarterbacks, with Tom Brady recently taking over the top spot. Below are the 34 highest-paid players in NFL history, heading into the 2022 season and updated with the help of data from Spotrac.com.

What do NBA refs make? ›

Like most jobs in America, an NBA referee's salary is based on both seniority and performance. Entry-level referees' compensation begins at $600 per game or roughly $250,000 per year. Seasoned or professional referees earn $3,500 per game or up to $550,000 annually.

Is the NFL worth more than the NBA? ›

The NFL makes more money than NBA players. NFL players average about $14 million a year, almost twice what NBA players make. The league spends nearly double as much on the players, as well, so they are able to attract higher TV audiences and generate more revenue.

Who is the richest NBA owner? ›

Forbes: LA Clippers' Steve Ballmer richest owner in pro sports.

How much would it cost to buy the Toronto Maple Leafs? ›

In 2021, the franchise had an estimated value of 1.8 billion U.S. dollars.
...
Toronto Maple Leafs franchise value from 2006 to 2021 (in million U.S. dollars)
CharacteristicFranchise value in million U.S. dollars
20211,800
20201,500
20191,500
13 more rows
24 Jan 2022

How much Toronto Raptors worth? ›

This graph depicts the value of the Toronto Raptors franchise of the National Basketball Association from 2003 to 2021.
...
Toronto Raptors franchise value from 2003 to 2021 (in million U.S. dollars)
CharacteristicFranchise value in million U.S. dollars
20191,675
20181,400
20171,125
2016980
9 more rows
27 Jul 2022

Are Raptors or Leafs more popular? ›

Raptors were #1 with a wide margin in Toronto where they received more votes than the Maple Leafs and the Jays combined.

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