Owning a sports team is expensive, and owning an NFL franchise is no exception. The NFL has an annual revenue of $9.5 billion dollars, $2 billion more than the MLB’s $7.5 billion and almost three times more than the Premier League's $3.3 billion. Those numbers make the NFL the biggest sports league in the world. With annual TV revenue of $5 billion, the NFL makes almost 5 times the MLB’s $1.5 billion, and its average attendance of 67,604 per game doubles the MLB’s 30,895.
While the Green Bay Packers are uniquely a community-owned organization, 17 NFL teams (over half the league) are owned by billionaires. On Forbes’ list of The World’s 50 Most Valuable Sports Teams, NFL teams occupied 60% of the list with 4 in the top ten. Being the biggest sport in America, it’s no surprise that ownership of an NFL franchise carries a hefty price tag, the league's least valuable franchise according to Forbes (the Oakland Raiders) have a value of $825 million.
This is a list of the top 10 richest owners in the NFL for 2013 according to Forbes.
10 Arthur Blank - Atlanta Falcons - $1.7 Billion
Arthur Blank bought the Atlanta Falcons from previous owner Taylor Smith back in 2002 for $545 million and since then the team has gone 100-75-1 under 4 different head coaches. Blank also bought the AFL’s Georgia Force in 2004 and showed interest in purchasing the MLB’s Atlanta Braves in 2006, as well as an MLS franchise. Ranked 327th on Forbes’ list of the 400 richest Americans, Blank made his money as the co-founder of the Home Depot hardware store. A signatory of The Giving Pledge, Blank has committed at least 50% of his earnings to charitable causes.
9 Bob McNair - Houston Texans - $2 Billion
Bob McNair ranks 273rd on Forbes’ list of the top 400 richest Americans, and in 1999 he was awarded the 32nd franchise in the NFL. His Houston Texans debuted in 2002, and since then have only been to the playoffs twice, losing in the divisional round both years. McNair and his partners paid $700 million to bring the Texans to Houston back in 1999, which would be around $980 million today, and his 79% stake in the team is valued at around $880 million by Forbes.
8 Robert Kraft - New England Patriots - $2.9 Billion
Robert Kraft bought the Patriots in 1995 for $172 million when the team was one of the least valuable franchises in the NFL. Now almost 18 years later, the team is worth a whopping $1.8 billion, up 10% from last year. Apart from the Patriots, Kraft also owns the MLS's New England Revolution as well as Gillette Stadium, where both the Patriots and the Revolution play their home games. The stadium which opened in 2002 cost $325 million to build, equivalent to about $422 million today. Kraft is ranked 184th on Forbes’ list of the top 400 richest Americans.
7 Joan Tisch - New York Giants - $2.9 Billion
Joan Tisch owns a 6.6% stake in the New York Giants and inherited 50% ownership from her husband Robert Tisch after he passed away in 2005. Her husband bought a half-stake of the Giants in 1991 from Tim Mara. Her son Steve serves as the family’s point man in their ownership of the team. The Giants have appeared in three Super Bowls since 1991, winning two in the past six years. She and her sister-in-law Wilma Tisch are in control of the fortune built by their late husbands, Lawrence and Robert Tisch. Their company Loews Corp. controls natural gas pipelines, offline drilling and insurance.
6 Jerry Jones - Dallas Cowboys - $3 Billion
Jerry Jones made his fortune in oil and gas wells in the 1970’s and bought the Dallas Cowboys for $150 million in 1989. Since he bought the team the Cowboys have won three Super Bowl championships and made the playoffs 14 times. The Cowboys current home field, AT&T Stadium, opened in 2009 and cost $1.3 billion to construct. In July 2013 Jones sold the stadium's naming rights for the next 25 years to AT&T for an estimated $500 million according to Forbes. The Cowboys are America’s most valuable sports franchise, worth $2.3 billion, and despite lacklustre performances over the last few years the team produced league-high figures in both revenue with $539 million and operating income with $251 million. Jones is ranked 166th on Forbes’ list of the top 400 richest Americans.
5 Shahid Khan - Jacksonville Jaguars - $3.8 billion
Shahid Khan is the owner of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars and the Premier Leagues Fulham FC, which he purchased for $770 million and $300 million respectively. Khan purchased Fulham in July 2013, a year-and-a-half after buying the Jaguars from former owner Wayne Weaver. His auto parts manufacturer Flex-N-Gate came away with $3.9 billion in sales in 2012. In his first year as owner the Jaguars went 2-14 and Khan responded by firing his head coach and general manager. He hired former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to take over as head coach on January 17, 2013. Khan ranks 122nd on Forbes’ list of the top 400 richest Americans.
4 Malcolm Glazer - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - $4.5 Billion
Malcolm Glazer bought his first sports team in 1995, and ranks 102nd on Forbes’ list of the top 400 richest Americans. Glazer spent $195 million on the Bucs in 1995 and the team is now worth over $1 billion. Ten years later Glazer went on to buy British soccer team Manchester United, which in 2012 became the first franchise to be valued at over $3 billion. The Bucs have one Super Bowl victory and 6 playoff appearances since Glazer bought the team in 1995, and his real estate company, First Allied, owns more than 6.7 million feet of U.S. shopping mall space in 18 states.
3 Stephen Ross - Miami Dolphins - $4.8 Billion
Stephen Ross bought 50% of the Miami Dolphins in 2008 for $550 million, and in 2009 went on to purchase and additional 45% from then-owner Wayne Huizenga for a grand total of $1.1 billion. Ross now owns 95% of the Dolphins and their stadium, and since his purchase of the team he has brought in Gloria Estefan, Marc Anthony, Venus Williams and Serena Williams as minority owners. He is the chairman of Related Cos., and has been developing a $15 billion neighborhood in Manhattan’s West Side called Hudson Yards. Ross is ranked 94th on Forbes’ list of the top 400 richest Americans.
2 Stanley Kroenke - St. Louis Rams - $5.3 Billion
In 1995, Stanley Kroenke bought a 40% stake in the NFL’s St. Louis Rams, becoming full owner of the team 15 years later. Apart from the Rams, Kroenke also owns the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, but in order to gain full ownership of the Rams, Kroenke turned over control of the Avalanche and the Nuggets to his son. By 2014 Kroenke must give up his majority stake in both teams since the NFL does not allow its owners to hold majority control of major league teams in other NFL markets. Kroenke founded his own real estate company, the Kroenke Group in 1983 and serves as chairman of THF Reality, an independent real estate development company founded in 1991. He ranks 84th on Forbes’ list of the top 400 richest Americans.
1 Paul Allen - Seattle Seahawks - $15.8 Billion
Soaring in at 26th on Forbes’ list of the top 400 richest Americans is best-known as being the co-founder of the Microsoft Corporation. Allen is also the founder and chairman of Vulcan Inc. Founded in 1986, the company manages Allen’s philanthropic and business ventures. Allen owns the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers and the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. In 1988 Allen bought the Trail Blazers from Larry Weinberg for $70 million, and the team is now worth $457 million according to Forbes. In 1997 Allen bought the Seattle Seahawks from then-owner Ken Behring who planned to move the team to Southern California, and in August 2013, Forbes valued the Seahawks at $1.08 billion. Apart from the Seahawks and Trail Blazers, Allen is also a part-owner of the MLS’s Seattle Sounders FC soccer club.
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