Near the end of last season Bud Selig announced that baseball gross revenues had topped the $8 billion mark and that his hopes were for more. He said that baseball may even see $9 billion in the 2014 season.
That’s a huge increase in revenue for an organization that was begging for new life in the 90’s. Serious questions arose after the infamous baseball strike of 1994. Many wondered if baseball would ever be on top again. Would baseball ever begin to rival the growing giant of the NFL.
The MLB hasn't topped the NFL but they are keeping up. The NFL is bringing in around $10 billion but they’re looking far ahead. The organization has made claims that they want to see the $25 billion mark. That’s a lofty goal, but not outside the realm of possibility.
The one thing about baseball is the disparity. Some teams are more responsible than others for closing in on Bud Selig’s goal. Every year numbers of MLB team values come out. Bloomberg and Forbes are the two biggest contributors to those lists.
Forbes gives a revenue generated by each team, but it doesn't show the complete picture. Bloomberg gathers the information of the total revenue brought in by each team in a season. Using those numbers, here is a list of the top ten revenue generating teams.
10 St Louis Cardinals, $250 Million
The St Louis Cardinals are like the New York Yankees of the National League. The have a long lasting classic tradition. They have a long list of players in the Baseball Hall of Fame. They have more World Series Championships than any team except the Yankees with 11. And like the Yankees, they have an extremely proud fan base.
The difference is that the Yankees are in New York, the city that made man men and rich bankers. Now York is a big city business man’s dream. St Louis is more like a big small city. It has its wealth and business, but it’s built on beer and music. It’s a blue collar town with a blue collar feel.
The thing about the St. Louis Cardinals is that they've been able to win with less. Not that they don’t bring in a lot of money, but they’re definitely bringing in as much other teams who have won a lot less championships. They sit at tenth on this list bringing in revenue last year of $250 million.
9 Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers have never won a World Series Championship. In the past four years they have been in the World Series twice and lost. They've also had nothing but winning seasons since 2009. They realize that they are close to a championship and they are taking full advantage. They are trying to bring in big talent, like Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, to help them stay on top.
This attitude has not only had positive reflections on the field. It’s also had positive outcomes in the financial books. Last season the team generated $260 million in revenue. That’s ninth overall. Not only that, the overall team value has almost doubled in that four year span of winning. Winning can do a lot to help a team make money and making money can help a team get the players that they need to win.
8 New York Mets
The New York Mets have their work cut out for them. They are trying to compete in the same city as the New York Yankees. That’s sort of like the corner grocery store trying to compete with Wal-Mart. Regardless of the difficulties the Mets have thrived and had success. Again, winning helps. The danger the Mets are facing is exactly that, winning. They haven’t had a winning season since 2008. They've had some great players like David Wright, but that will only keep the fans paying for so long.
The Mets brought in total revenue of $265 million last year. They can’t expect to keep that pace unless they find ways to use that money to produce wins on the field. Like Tiger Woods said, “winning takes care of everything.”
7 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have a ridiculously long name. That doesn't prevent them from making money as last season they brought in $275 million. The Angels have a bit of a cult following. They have some loyal fans that seem to be on the younger side. Maybe it all comes from that Disney movie.
Either way they keep selling tickets and bringing in cash. They aren't afraid to spend cash either. When Albert Pujols was trying to convince the St. Louis Cardinals to bank roll the rest of his life, the Angels jumped in and offered to do what the Cardinals wouldn't. The Angels offered him $240 million over a ten year span.
This year they offered to extend Mike Trout’s contract to six years for $144.5 million. They aren't afraid to spend the money they make to win more games and hopefully a World Series Championship.
6 San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants are often overshadowed by it’s larger than life players. For the longest time Barry Bonds was the face of the Giants. The big players have always brought fans in to watch. The location of the ballpark on the San Francisco Bay doesn't hurt either.
But the trend for the Giants lately hasn't been their personalities, it’s been their rings. In 2010, the Giants won the World Series Championship and only lost one game in the series. In 2012, they came back and swept the series. This culture of winning and their great fan base has allowed them to make a lot of money. Last year, the Giants produced revenue of $300 million.
5 Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies have had a long and sorted past as a team. They have more losses as a franchise than any other MLB team and they were the first team to hit 10,000 losses in league history. You would think that a team that has the most losses wouldn't have a lot of fans or last as long as an organization.
The Phillies maintain their strong fan base and continue to make lots of money. The Phillies revenue from last season was $315 million. After missing the playoffs for the past two seasons, fans are hoping that the Phillies can use that money to make another run at a championship.
4 Chicago Cubs
The Chicago Cubs are the lovable losers. The National League team in Chicago has somehow turned losing into a means of maintaining a deeply loyal fan base. It’s a paradox of sorts. With almost every other franchise in sports, losing means losing fans and losing money. For the Cubs, losing has become part of their identity.
Even though the Cubs finished first place in 2003, 2007 and 2008, they never lost the name of losers. They've grown an entire culture out of losing. From goat heads to black cats to Steve Bartman, the stories keep on going. Even with all of this losing, they ranked fourth on overall revenue brought in last season. The Chicago Cubs brought in $320 million and continue to keep losing.
3 Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers are one of the most iconic teams in baseball. Most people know that the Dodgers got their name from their trolley dodging fans in Brooklyn and they have been a team with a lot of history for baseball. From playing in the famous Ebbets Field to bringing in the legendary Jackie Robinson, the team has pride in their past.
The team is also looking to the future. Last season they were strong competitors and won their division. They look to do the same this season with great players like Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw and Hanley Ramirez. The future looks bright for this legendary franchise. That might be what lead them to bring in $325 million last season and that lands them third on this list.
2 Boston Red Sox
The pride of Boston is none other than the Red Sox. Boston is one of the most prideful sports towns and nothing can hold a candle to the legend that is the Boston Red Sox. This is another franchise with deep rooted history and traditions. There’s not a baseball fan alive (with the exception of some Yankees fans) that doesn't want to watch a game at Fenway Park.
The rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees surpasses all other sports rivalries. Going all the way back to the days of the Babe Ruth trade, fans of both teams have never been able to get along with the other. This rivalry has helped the popularity of this team go far beyond the confines of the New England area. There are Red Sox fans all around the world.
They shared the same fate with the Chicago Cubs for many decades. Neither team could seem to win a World Series Championship. Finally in 2004, the Red Sox broke the curse of the Bambino and have been constant contenders ever since. The history and the winning together skyrocketed this team to the number two spot in revenue. The Red Sox brought in the second largest revenue last season with $405 million.
1 New York Yankees
The New York Yankees have more championships than any other team in baseball. There is no other team that comes close. They have 27 World Series Championships and 40 Pennants. When people say that winning makes the paycheck, the New York Yankees prove them right.
The Yankees have created a long lasting, self-sustaining culture of winning. No player would turn down an opportunity to have his own pin stripped uniform. When a player becomes a Yankee, he has the chance to become a legend. With the Yankees, it’s not only the history; it’s the history of winning. Fans old and young can enjoy the same culture. The Yankees are always contenders and always a threat to make it to the World Series. On top of the culture, they have the money to get the players that they need.
This constant winning has brought the Yankees to the forefront as the most valuable team in Major League Baseball. They comfortably sit at number one in revenue streams too. Last season, the New York Yankees brought in $570 million dollars. That’s more than the Tampa Bay Rays, Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians combined.
When a team makes this much money they can easily build the team they want and breed the culture they want. Fans of the Yankees feel as if they’re in an elite club. It seems only the best can be Yankees. It may not always end up that way on the field, but it always ends up that way in the bank.