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We Are The Champions

Football has Become Bigger

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Marquee Media


OOH…Here’s One Thing

by Jim Johnsen,
Managing Director, Johnsen, Fretty & Company




We Are The Champions

“But it’s been no bed of roses
No pleasure cruise
I consider it a challenge before the whole human race
And I ain’t gonna lose”   Queen


If you haven’t guessed it based on the title, given its Superbowl week, I thought I would do a little piece in its honor.  I mean what American doesn’t love the Superbowl!   So first, a couple interesting facts that I recently learned:

1. The NFL is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit organization.   Despite this status, the NFL runs as efficiently as any corporation, and has achieved the status of one of the largest examples of a well-run sports business.

2. The NFL was founded in 1920.

3.  Each of the member teams of the NFL is a for profit enterprise.   

4.  Harris polls show that in every year from 1977 to 2010 save one (1982, when there was a strike in football), professional football has been the most popular spectator sport in the United States, with baseball coming in second.

5.  The first Superbowl was in 1967 (before that it was the NFL Championship from 1920 to 1966…and excluded all the AFL teams).  

6.  In 1996 the Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore and changed their name to the Ravens.  Then Cleveland opened an expansion team called the Browns.  Confusing, right?               

7.  In 1931, Bell and Lud Wray purchased the Eagles (then the Frankford Yellow Jackets) for $2800.  Wish my grandfather had that kind of foresight!

8.  The Dallas Texans moved to Kansas City in 1963 and renamed themselves the Chiefs

9.  What has contributed to the NFL’s success and phenomenal growth?  –  a.  Broadcast television,  b.  The merger of the NFL and the AFL in 1967, c. Monday night football (1970), d. ESPN (1979), e. Sunday Night football (1987), f. free-agency into the NFL in 1992

10. Expansion fees in the NFL have grown from $100 for the original NFL teams in 1920 to $700 million in 1999 (sorry didn’t have the most recent stat here) 

11.  Since 1932, the vast majority of expansion teams have overpaid for their rights.  But generating a reasonable return on investment hasn’t mattered, since its like collecting art.  A fun hobby with an asset that always sells for more than you paid for it.  

And because I wake up each day thinking about VALUE…without further ado, ponder this as you crack that first Bud Light next weekend:

2019 2000
Team Rank Value of Team ($ B) Rank Value of Team ($ B)
Dallas Cowboys 1 5.5 2 0.74
New England Patriots 2 4.1 9 0.52
New York Giants 3 3.9 19 0.42
Los Angeles Rams 4 3.8 na na
San Francisco 49ers 5 3.5 18 0.42
Washington Redskins 7 3.4 1 0.80
Cleveland Browns 28 2.2 3 0.60
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 2.2 4 0.58
Carolina Panthers 22 2.4 5 0.57
Baltimore Ravens 18 2.8 6 0.54
Kansas City Chiefs 24 2.3 21 0.41
Average Across NFL 2.9 na
1 Values above are enterprise value and include debt
2 Source; Forbes Magazine Sept 2019 and Sept 2001


Wow!  That’s almost as good as an investment in the outdoor advertising business!  From 1924 to 1999, NFL team values grew at an average annualized rate of 21.3%.  The stock market doesn’t even come close.  Take that Mr. Buffett.    


Jim Johnsen


Securities transacted through StillPoint Capital Member firm FIN




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