The wobbling economy has hit the NFL hard in some markets but the Bears remain strong.
Forbes released its annual list of franchise values on Wednesday and the Bears came in ninth at $1.082 billion. What's better, the club ranks eighth in operating income at $41.6 million. It's no surprise that Dallas was tops on the list at $1.65 billion, a figure bolstered by the sparkling new Dallas Cowboys Stadium. Washington came in second at $1.55 billion and Daniel Snyder was the runaway leader in operating income at $90.3 million, almost $20 million more than the next closest team.
The rest of the top 10 in current value--New England, New York Giants, New York Jets, Houston, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Bears and Denver. Nineteen teams were valued at $1 billion or more, but for the first time in a decade there were franchises that lost value. In fact, eight teams dropped in value, led by the Oakland Raiders, who dipped seven percent to $797 million.
The publicly held Green Bay Packers were 18th at $1.019 billion with an operating income of $20.1 million. Because their books are public, Forbes can obtain great detail on the franchise.
Forbes noted that the Bears are the second most expensive stadium to attend a game at according to Team Marketing Report behind only New England. Forbes characterized the Bears' contract with the Chicago Park District to play at Soldier Field as a sweetheart deal.
The Bears have one of the best stadium deals in the NFL. The team pays $5.7 million a season in rent and gets all football-related revenue at Soldier Field. A big plus for the Bears: $35 million a season from premium seating. The Bears also have one of the leanest operations in the NFL, a tradition that started with the team's founder, George Halas. As a result, the team should still make a fortune this season despite not increasing ticket prices.
But one writer believes the Bears should be doing more, much more with their corporate opportunity. Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports, the former longtime NFL writer for Sports Illustrated, released his annual ranking of the owners, or the bottom half of the owners. The top half comes on Thursday. Silver hammers the McCaskey family, ranking them 30th, ahead of only runaway maverick Al Davis in Oakland and Mike Brown of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Yes, Silver has the McCaskeys below William Clay Ford, who watched Matt Millen run the Detroit Lions into the ground (or underground) last season at 0-16. Silver ranks the McCaskeys below the Bidwills, Ralph Wilson Jr., the Yorks and Tom Benson.
"From a business perspective, no franchise in sports underachieves like this one. The Bears have a storied history, the NFL's second-largest market all to themselves and, for the first time in forever, a saleable franchise quarterback in Jay Cutler. The brand should be booming; sponsorship revenues should be raining down upon Halas Hall like M.J.'s fadeway jumpers in the mid-'90s. The Bears also react cautiously to league-level proposals for increasing revenue. On a positive note, Michael McCaskey, as chair of the NFL's Super Bowl committee, does a thorough and comprehensive job of reciting the rules before bids are considered. I can't imagine where his peers would be without him."
Silver quotes one unnamed owner on the McCaskeys: "They could take that thing and run it to the moon. But they get less for what they've got than any team in our league."
They probably should get some props for plucking Cutler out of Denver. I am curious to read the writeup Thursday on Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, who has been respected for a longtime but watched his rookie coach really drop the ball in losing a franchise quarterback.