Believe it or not, some sports teams actually made money during the pandemic, despite the apparent lack of sport. Not just a little bit either, an absolute boatload. Forbes has released its list of the most valuable sports teams 2020 and the results show that even with fans stuck at home, seasons in doubt and revenue at record lows, the world’s richest sports franchises are somehow getting richer. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from this year’s list of the most valuable sports teams, it’s that on-field success isn’t always the biggest driver of cash. Instead, it’s a healthy dose of heritage, fan support and star-power.
At the beginning of 2020, we all had high hopes for another massive season of sport. For the first time in a long time, there was no clear-cut favourite in each of the major American sporting codes, similar to what we faced down under. But sadly, as it has to pretty much everything else, COVID-19 ravaged the sporting world, and indeed our sports teams. In Australia, players in the AFL and NRL were forced to take major pay-cuts in order to keep their teams alive, but it appears overseas, the same was not entirely true. Forbes’ Most Valuable Sports Teams 2020 list revealed that the major teams in the NFL, NBA and MLB were are keeping pace and at times exceeding revenue figures from last year, despite a wayward season that was put on hold during the key crowd periods.
In fact, of the top 23 teams (three were tied for 20th place), 19 of them hailed from either the NFL, NBA or MLB, proving that sports in the US are indeed thriving. It goes without saying that the NFL has absolutely dominated the Most Valuable Sports Teams list this year, even after a ten-year run by the NBA lifted its average team value nearly sixfold, more than any other US sports league. An incredible 27 out of the top 50 most valuable sports teams were claimed by American football, a reflection of the game’s booming stadium appeal and television ratings. According to Adage, of the 100 top broadcasts in the US in 2019, 88 were sporting events and 73 were NFL games. The sporting code’s current US TV rights are worth USD$6.5 billion on average per year, but that number is expected to nearly double should an expected deal come in the next few months. In fact, the NFL broadcasting rights are so important, Fox even backed out of a 12-year deal to showcase golf’s US Open in order to afford it.
The second most valuable code on the list is the NBA, which has once again scored a solid revenue stream. Three out of the top five most valuable sports teams came from basketball, with the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors also netting big returns. But you can expect that may take a hit considering how abysmal the NBA ratings have been since the Disneyland Bubble experiment took off. Nevertheless, basketball remains big business.
Here is a list of the 20 most valuable sports teams in the world for 2020.
1. Dallas Cowboys – USD$5.5 Billion
It’s the fifth year in a row that the Dallas Cowboys have taken out the top position in Forbes’ most valuable sports teams list, and it’s hardly a surprise. With NFL dominating the list and the Cowboys remaining the most prestigious team in the competition, the revenue continues to flow in.
Head coach: Mike McCarthy
Owner: Jerry Jones
Location: Dallas, Texas, United States
NFL championships: 1996, 1994, 1993, 1978, 1972
2. New York Yankees – USD$5 Billion
Another unsurprising addition to the list is the New York Yankees. The globally-recognised brand has produced some major stars over the years, helping the team to near-record profits in recent times. It’s little wonder the Yankees have landed at number two in the most valuable sports teams list for 2020.
President of baseball operations: Randy Levine
Principal owner(s): Yankee Global Enterprises; (Hal Steinbrenner chairman)
Manager: Aaron Boone
3. New York Knicks – USD$4.6 Billion
While on the court, the Knicks are in a shambles, off the court, the organisation has never looked better. Worth a whopping USD$4.6 billion, the Knicks have managed to generate significant revenue over the past year, despite the apparent lack of team chemistry.
Head coach: Mike Miller
Owner: James Dolan
Arena/Stadium: Madison Square Garden
General manager: Scott Perry
4. Los Angeles Lakers – USD$4.4 Billion
The Los Angeles Lakers were already a major force to be reckoned with in terms of revenue, but when LeBron James joined the team in 2018, things improved astronomically. Now with a finals appearance insight, the James-led Lakers are prepping for a big year, on and off the court.
Head coach: Frank Vogel Trending
Arena/Stadium: STAPLES Center
Owners: Joey Buss, Johnny Buss, Jesse Buss, Jim Buss, Jeanie Buss, Janie Buss
5. Golden State Warriors – USD$4.3 Billion
Five years of dominance and the world’s hottest player will help you go a long way in today’s sporting world. For Steph Curry’s Golden State Warriors, that has led to a valuation of around USD$4.3 billion, making them the fifth most valuable sports team in the world. Splash.
Head coach: Steve Kerr
Arena/Stadium: Chase Center
Location: San Francisco, California, United States
Owners: Joseph S. Lacob (majority), Peter Guber
6. Real Madrid – USD$4.24 Billion
The world’s biggest football team is scoring goals off the pitch again this year. Real Madrid netted a valuation of around USD$4.4 billion thanks to some major success on the football field. In a sport that is dominated by huge pay-cheques, Real Madrid may have scored the biggest.
Head coach: Zinedine Zidane
Owner: Florentino Perez
Arena/Stadium: Santiago Bernabéu Stadium
Location: Madrid, Spain
Leagues: UEFA Champions League, La Liga, Copa del Rey, FIFA Club World Cup
7. New England Patriots – USD$4.1 Billion
Even without Tom Brady, the Pats are still worth a pretty penny. According to Forbes, the New England team is worth a whopping USD$4.1 billion, good enough for the seventh spot on the list of most valuable sports teams for 2020.
Arena/Stadium: Gillette Stadium
Head coach: Bill Belichick
Location: New England, United States
Owner: Robert Kraft
NFL championships: 2019, 2017, 2015, 2005, 2004, 2002
8. Barcelona – USD$4.02 Billion
Having Messi on your team does have its benefits. Not content with being the richest football team in the world, Barcelona has upped its valuation again this year.
Manager: Quique Setién Trending
Head coach: Quique Setién
Arena/Stadium: Camp Nou
Leagues: UEFA Champions League, La Liga, Copa del Rey
Parent organisation: FC Barcelona
9. New York Giants – USD$3.9 Billion
It’s been a few years we saw the Giants make the NFL playoffs, but that hasn’t stopped the New York team from making bulk cash. According to Forbes, the Giants are the ninth most valuable sports team in the world, with a net worth of around USD$3.9 billion.
Arena/Stadium: MetLife Stadium
Head coach: Joe Judge
Location: New York Metropolitan Area, United States
NFL championships: 2012, 2008, 1991, 1987
Owners: John Mara, Steve Tisch
10. Manchester United – USD$3.8 Billion
The Red Devils are probably the most recognisable football team in Europe and the organisation is reaping the rewards. With a valuation of USD$3.8 billion, Manchester United rounds out the top ten most valuable sports teams in the world for this year.
Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjær
Arena/Stadium: Old Trafford
Owner: Manchester United (NYSE: MANU)
Founder: Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway
Founded: 1878, Newton Heath, Manchester, United Kingdom
11. Los Angeles Rams – USD$3.8 Billion
Despite only having one championship under its belt, the Los Angeles Rams have become a monster of the sport. The support of the wider LA community has bolstered the team astronomically, swelling the team’s valuation to around USD$3.8 billion. While not quite big enough to land them a top ten spot, with some consistent results and a future playoff birth, we could very well see the Rams climb Forbes’ list.
Arena: SoFi Stadium
Head coach: Sean McVay
NFL championships: 2000
Owner: Stan Kroenke
Locations: Los Angeles, California, United States, Los Angeles Metropolitan Area, California, United States
12. San Francisco 49ers – USD$3.5 Billion
A great year for the 49ers on the field has resulted in some impressive returns off it. Fresh off a finals appearance, the San Francisco team has netted a valuation of USD$3.5 billion, which is just a splash in the water compared to the amount of money in Silicone Valley.
Head coach: Kyle Shanahan
Arena/Stadium: Levi’s Stadium
Owner: Denise DeBartolo York
Mascot: Sourdough Sam
NFL championships: 1995, 1990, 1989, 1985, 1982
13. Chicago Bears – USD$3.45 Billion
Chicago loves sports, honestly, the long-suffering fans will put up with anything. Thanks to their dedication, the Bears have managed to rustle up a valuation of USD$3.45 billion, which is an insane amount of money for a perennial underperformer.
NFL championships: 1986
Arena/Stadium: Soldier Field
Head coach: Matt Nagy
Owner: Virginia Halas McCaskey
Fight song: Bear Down, Chicago Bears
14. Los Angeles Dodgers – USD$3.4 Billion (Tied)
Another LA team that is leveraging a solid fan base and the city’s love of casual sports, the Dodgers have come a long way since the early Brooklyn days. Looking at them now, you don’t see the team going back any time soon.
President of baseball operations: Andrew Friedman
AA Pennants (1): 1889
Owner: Guggenheim Baseball Management
Retired numbers: 1; 2; 4; 19; 20; 24; 32; 39; 42; 53
Arena/Stadium: Dodger Stadium
World Series championships: 1988, 1981, 1965, 1963, 1959, 1955
14. Washington Football Team – USD$3.4 Billion (Tied)
Naming conventions aside, Washington has made some serious cash over the past few years, swelling the team’s valuation to around USD$3.4 billion. With the current contention slowly lifting, things are looking up for the NFL team.
Former name: Boston Redskins
Owner: Daniel Snyder
Location: Washington, D.C., United States
NFL championships: 1992, 1988, 1983
16. Boston Red Sox – USD$3.3 Billion
Boston, like Chicago, is a city full of sports-mad fans. Unlike Chicago, however, these fans have become accustomed to winning and the Red Sox have been more than happy to accommodate. The most-hated baseball team in the world is ticking off goals and netting championships like it’s nobodies business, leading to a whopping USD$3.3 billion valuation.
President of Baseball Operations: Chaim Bloom (Chief Baseball Officer)
Owner: John William Henery II
East Division titles (10): 1975; 1986; 1988; 1990; 1995; 2007; 2013; 2016; 2017; 2018
AL Pennants (14): 1903; 1904; 1912; 1915; 1916; 1918; 1946; 1967; 1975; 1986; 2004; 2007; 2013; 2018
Retired numbers: 1; 4; 6; 8; 9; 14; 26; 27; 34; 45; 42
World Series championships: 2018, 2013, 2007, 2004, 1918, 1916, 1915, 1912, 1903
17. Chicago Bulls – USD$3.2 Billion (Tied)
While the heydays of Michael Jordan’s Bulls are long gone, you shouldn’t count out the Chicago team. Despite a series of poor performance and years of playoff failings, the fans have stood by the team and it’s paid off for the organisation, landing it as the 17th most valuable sports team in the world.
History: Chicago Bulls; 1966–present
Owner: Jerry Reinsdorf
Head coach: Jim Boylen
General manager: Marc Eversley
Arena/Stadium: United Center
17. Chicago Cubs – USD$3.2 Billion (Tied)
The Bulls’ cross-code pals, the Cubs have also made the most valuable sports teams 2020 list, thanks to a healthy valuation of USD$3.2 billion. Fresh off a big victory in 2016, the team’s first in 108 years, the Cubs have slowly been securing greater membership numbers and revenue streams, making them a true force to be reckoned with.
President of baseball operations: Theo Epstein
Owner(s): Thomas S. Ricketts, Laura Ricketts, Pete Ricketts, Todd Ricketts, Joe Ricketts
East Division titles (2): 1984; 1989
Central Division titles (5): 2003; 2007; 2008; 2016; 2017
Retired numbers: 10; 14; 23; 26; 31; 31; 42
World Series championships: 2016, 1908, 1907
17. New York Jets – USD$3.2 Billion (Tied)
The Jets have a history of underperforming, but not when it comes to Forbes’ list of the most valuable sports franchises on the planet. For years, we’ve seen the New York team pick up some serious dough and 2020 is no exception, despite the COVID-concerns.
Head coach: Adam Gase
Owner: Woody and Christopher Johnson
Arena/Stadium: MetLife Stadium
NFL championships: 1969
Division: AFC East
General manager: Joe Douglas
20. Boston Celtics – USD$3.1 Billion (Tied)
With a solid string of performances over the past few years, the Celtics have more than proved their worth on the court. A USD$3.1 billion valuation doesn’t hurt either.
History: Boston Celtics; 1946–present
Head coach: Brad Stevens
Arena/Stadium: TD Garden
Mascot: Lucky the Leprechaun
Owner: Boston Basketball Partners
20. Houston Texans – USD$3.1 Billion (Tied)
Houston’s football-mad fans have a lot to answer for. With the Texans netting a USD$3.1 billion valuation this year, that’s good enough for 20th spot on the most valuable sports franchises list for 2020.
Head coach: Bill O’Brien
Arena/Stadium: NRG Stadium
Division: AFC South
Founded: 6 October 1999
Owner: Janice McNair
20. San Francisco Giants – USD$3.1 Billion (Tied)
Rounding out the top 20 most valuable sports teams for this year is the San Francisco Giants. The successful organisation has leveraged some big fan numbers and membership to net another year of growth, while at the same time proving there is big money in America’s national pastime.
President of baseball operations: Farhan Zaidi
Owner: Greg Johnson
West Division titles (8): 1971; 1987; 1989; 1997; 2000; 2003; 2010; 2012
Retired numbers: NY; NY; 3; 4; 11; 20; 24; 25; 27; 30; 36; 44; 42
Wild card berths (3): 2002; 2014; 2016
Mascots: Lou Seal, Crazy Crab
What is the most valuable sports team in the world?
As of August 2020, the most valuable sports team in the world is the Dallas Cowboys, with a total valuation of USD$5.5 billion. This is the fifth-straight year the team has topped the list.
Who is the highest-paid athlete in the world?
For 2020, the highest-paid athlete in the world was tennis star, Roger Federer. The Swiss dynamo managed to secure a whopping USD$106.3 million this year, thanks to some impressive sponsorships deals and touring earnings.
Who is the richest sports team owner?
The richest sports team owner in the world is Steve Ballmer. Owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, Ballmer has a net worth of around USD$52.7 billion, which he earned through various roles at tech company Microsoft. Most notably, Ballmer served as the chief executive officer of Microsoft from January 13, 2000, to February 4, 2014.