Ranked: The Most Expensive Sports Team Sales in History
Ranking the Biggest Sports Team Sales in History
After a record-setting year in 2022, professional sports team sales are on an uptick yet again.
The tentative $6.05 billion Washington Commanders sale, already approved by other NFL owners, will be the highest amount paid for a sports team once completed.
This graphic from Sam Parker shows how the Commanders’ April 2023 deal measures up against the biggest sports team sales in history, using data from the Wall Street Journal and CBS Sports.
Washington Commanders Sale vs. Other Franchise Fortunes
Valuations have become significantly larger in the last couple of years, with the largest sales all occurring after 2010. Here are the 10 most highly-priced sales for a professional sports team franchise globally.
|Rank||Team||Price||Year of Sale|
|1||🏈 Washington Commanders||$6.1B||2023|
|2||⚽ Chelsea Football Club||$5.3B||2022|
|3||🏈 Denver Broncos||$4.7B||2022|
|4||🏀 Phoenix Suns||$4.0B||2023|
|5||🏀 Milwaukee Bucks||$3.5B||2023|
|6||⚾ New York Mets||$2.4B||2020|
|7||🏀 Brooklyn Nets||$2.4B||2019|
|8||🏈 Carolina Panthers||$2.2B||2018|
|9||🏀 Houston Rockets||$2.2B||2017|
|10||⚾ Los Angeles Dodgers||$2.0B||2012|
The Washington Commanders sale takes the top spot at $6.1 billion, even though it could still be de-throned. It’s been reported that a $7 billion dollar bid for the team is still in play as well.
Dan Snyder, the current owner of the team, is one of the world’s richest people in sports. He purchased the team for $800 million in 1999 and, if the $6.1 billion sale completes, will have made a cumulative return of over 650%.
Chelsea Football Club is the only non-U.S. sale on the list. The sports team was previously owned by Roman Abramovich, a Russian oligarch who was subject to sanctions after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and was forced to sell the team.
Hedge fund billionaire Todd Boehly, who was part of the consortium that purchased Chelsea, is also part owner of number 10 on the list: the LA Dodgers. Boehly is said to have helped with one of the “most dramatic turnarounds in North American sports” through his purchase of the Dodgers in 2012 for $2.0 billion, with the team wining the MLB World Series in 2020.
Will any sale top the Washington Commanders number? NFL teams specifically are some of the world’s most valuable teams, so the sale of a team such as the Dallas Cowboys or Los Angeles Rams could be worth more.
Other competition could come from soccer teams, including Chelsea rivals Manchester United or Liverpool. Manchester United’s owners put the club up for sale in 2022, hoping for a valuation of £5 billion to £6 billion ($6.2 billion to $7.5 billion).
Why Are Sports Team Sale Prices So High?
Sports teams haven’t always collected such sky-high prices like the Washington Commanders sale. In fact, sports teams used to be the investment of choice for eccentric entrepreneurs and were considered money-losing propositions.
So what’s changed? There are a number of factors driving high valuations and passionate interest from billionaires:
- Media deals: Digitization means sports now have a global audience, and broadcast rights have become a major driver of leagues’ revenue growth. For example, the NFL has $115 billion in long-term media rights deals with major TV networks, Amazon, and Google’s YouTube TV.
- Industry monopoly: There were once a handful of professional baseball leagues, but Major League Baseball earned an exemption from antitrust (pro-competition) laws in 1922. Other sports leagues have conglomerated to become the biggest and best representatives of their sport, making it nearly impossible for new entrants to compete.
- League benefits: Contracts negotiated at a league level are equally split between every league’s sports team. The Packers, the only NFL team with public financial statements, earned 60% of their income from national sources in 2022. Most leagues also have salary caps which limit player costs.
- Favorable Taxes: In 2004, the U.S. federal government introduced a rule allowing sports team owners to write off most of their purchase price against team profits over 15 years.
Beyond these factors, perhaps the biggest driver of sports team value is the prestige associated with owning one.
“Sports teams are a bit of a vanity asset, like owning a Picasso, and the highest bidder is going to be a very rich person who wants to own the team so they (can) call themselves an owner of a sports team.” — Stephen Dodson, Portfolio Manager of Bretton Fund
This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.
Charted: Public Trust in the Federal Reserve
Public trust in the Federal Reserve chair has hit its lowest point in 20 years. Get the details in this infographic.
- Gallup conducts an annual poll to gauge the U.S. public’s trust in the Federal Reserve
- After rising during the COVID-19 pandemic, public trust has fallen to a 20-year low
Charted: Public Trust in the Federal Reserve
Each year, Gallup conducts a survey of American adults on various economic topics, including the country’s central bank, the Federal Reserve.
More specifically, respondents are asked how much confidence they have in the current Fed chairman to do or recommend the right thing for the U.S. economy. We’ve visualized these results from 2001 to 2023 to see how confidence levels have changed over time.
Methodology and Results
The data used in this infographic is also listed in the table below. Percentages reflect the share of respondents that have either a “great deal” or “fair amount” of confidence.
|Year||Fed chair||% Great deal or Fair amount|
Data for 2023 collected April 3-25, with this statement put to respondents: “Please tell me how much confidence you have [in the Fed chair] to recommend the right thing for the economy.”
We can see that trust in the Federal Reserve has fluctuated significantly in recent years.
For example, under Alan Greenspan, trust was initially high due to the relative stability of the economy. The burst of the dotcom bubble—which some attribute to Greenspan’s easy credit policies—resulted in a sharp decline.
On the flip side, public confidence spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was likely due to Jerome Powell’s decisive actions to provide support to the U.S. economy throughout the crisis.
Measures implemented by the Fed include bringing interest rates to near zero, quantitative easing (buying government bonds with newly-printed money), and emergency lending programs to businesses.
Confidence Now on the Decline
After peaking at 58%, those with a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust in the Fed chair have tumbled to 36%, the lowest number in 20 years.
This is likely due to Powell’s hard stance on fighting post-pandemic inflation, which has involved raising interest rates at an incredible speed. While these rate hikes may be necessary, they also have many adverse effects:
- Negative impact on the stock market
- Increases the burden for those with variable-rate debts
- Makes mortgages and home buying less affordable
Higher rates have also prompted many U.S. tech companies to shrink their workforces, and have been a factor in the regional banking crisis, including the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.
Where does this data come from?
Source: Gallup (2023)
Data Notes: Results are based on telephone interviews conducted April 3-25, 2023, with a random sample of –1,013—adults, ages 18+, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on this sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. See source for details.
Economy3 weeks ago
Visualizing the American Workforce as 100 People
Technology1 week ago
Nvidia Joins the Trillion Dollar Club
Energy3 weeks ago
How EV Adoption Will Impact Oil Consumption (2015-2025P)
Demographics6 days ago
Comparing Population Pyramids Around the World
Wealth3 weeks ago
Ranked: The World’s Top 50 Endowment Funds
Green4 days ago
Ranked: The 20 Most Air-Polluted Cities on Earth
Markets3 weeks ago
Charting the Rise of America’s Debt Ceiling
Technology2 days ago
Ranked: America’s Largest Semiconductor Companies