Rays near bottom of MLB barrel in Forbes annual ranking of franchise values and growth
The Tampa Bay Rays 2011 late season comeback -- one for the history books -- to get into the playoffs was highlighted by Evan Longoria's walkoff home run in late September. The Rays beat the Yankees 8-7, coming back from a 7-0 deficit, and earned a playoff spot. (Photo: Tampa Bay Times). Heady stuff! But it did not help the Rays' franchise value.
Wake up and good morning. Ooof. The Tampa Bay Rays may be shooting with complete confidence for this year's playoffs and even the World Series. But it's a good thing the Rays don't have to compete in the standings off the field when it comes to franchise value and its growth in the past year.
According to the new annual ranking of Major League Baseball franchise value by Forbes, the Rays are one of just two MLB franchises that saw a decline in the team's value in the past year. (The New York Mets are the other.)
Let's be clear. The value of a baseball franchise has plenty to do with the size of its market, the attendance per game, the quality of the team put on the field, a stadium's value and even parking fees. But a huge factor in these values is the deal struck by each team with the cable television service (their own, or someone else) that broadcasts the games to a much larger audience.
For the Rays, the Forbes numbers are painful. The average MLB team rose 16 percent in value this past year to $605 million, an all-time high -- a remarkable achievement in this lousy economy. And the Rays?
* Forbes values the Rays at only $323 million, down 2 percent. Why? "Attendance and television ratings crashed last season," the magazine states.
* Only one MLB team, the Oakland Athletics (yep, the same team associated with the Moneyball book and movie as the team that first learned how to best leverage undiscovered talent for a low price), is worth less than the Rays. The A's are valued at $321 million but saw its value rise 5 percent while the Rays' value fell.
* The two American League eastern division rivals that the Rays must battle year after year (and lately have battled so well) are, of course, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. The Yankees are baseball's most valuable team at $1.85 billion, tied in value with the NFL's Dallas Cowboys and a hair behind Britain's Manchester United soccer team (worth $1.9 billion and owned by the Glazer family of Palm Beach that also owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.)
* The renamed Miami Marlins, about to enjoy a brand new roofed stadium, are worth $450 million and saw the franchise value rise a whopping 25 percent in just one year.
* The Arizona Diamondbacks, an expansion franchise that started in the same year as the Rays, had a value of $447 million, up 13 percent.
Here's the Forbes story that offers more explanation about the team values. And here's the complete rundown of teams, ranked by their new values, and the change in value in the past year.
1. New York Yankees, $1.85 billion, +9%
2. Los Angeles Dodgers, $1.4 billion, +75% (the team declared bankruptcy but since received a high purchase offer)
3. Boston Red Sox, $1 billion, +10%
4. Chicago Cubs, $1 billion, +14%
5. Philadelphia Phillies, $723 million, +19%
6. New York Mets, $719 million, - 4%
7. Texas Rangers, $674 million, +20%
8. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, $656 million, +18%
9. San Francisco Giants, $643 million, +14%
10. Chicago White Sox, $600 million, +14%
11. St. Louis Cardinals, $591 million, +14%
12. Seattle Mariners, $585 million, +30%
13. Houston Astros, $549 million, +16%
14. Minnesota Twins, $510 million, +4%
15. Atlanta Braves, $508 million, +5%
16. Washington Nationals, $480 million, +15%
17. Detroit Tigers, $478 million, +24%
18. Colorado Rockies, $464 million, +12%
19. Baltimore Orioles, $460 million, +12%
20. San Diego Padres, $458 million, +13%
21. Miami Marlins, $450 million, +25%
22. Milwaukee Brewers, $448 million, +19%
23. Arizona Diamondbacks, $447 million, +13%
24. Cincinnati Reds, $424 million, +13%
25. Toronto Blue Jays, $413 million, +23%
26. Cleveland Indians, $410 million, +16%
27. Kansas City Royals, $354 million, +1%
28. Pittsburgh Pirates, $336 million, +11%
29. Tampa Bay Rays, $323 million, -2%
30. Oakland Athletics, $321 million, +5%
-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, Tampa Bay Times