Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Franchise Values

Forbes recently released its valuations of all 30 MLB clubs, which rank the Orioles as the 17th most valuable team, worth $400 million. That number is up $227 million from when Peter Angelos purchased the club for $173 million in 1993, a 131 percent increase in value that's obviously nothing to sneeze at.

However, applying a broader lens to the overall figures suggests that Angelos has not profited nearly as much as have other owners.
Consider the figures for the six other teams that competed with the Orioles in the A.L. East when Angelos acquired the team.

While the Birds are currently worth more - and therefore rank higher on the Forbes list - than three of those 1993 A.L. East clubs (the Blue Jays, Brewers, and Tigers),
every team from the former division has experienced more growth in its overall value in the interim than have the Orioles.

(Team - 1993 value/2009 value - percent change)

Blue Jays - $150 million/$353 milllion - +135 percent

Milwaukee Brewers - $96 million/$347 million - + 261 percent

Detroit Tigers - $89 million/$371 million - +316 percent

Cleveland Indians - $100 million/$417 million - +317 percent

Boston Red Sox - $141 million/$833 million - +490 percent

New York Yankees - $166 millioni/$1.5 billion - + 803 percent

Most telling about these numbers is that they reveal how much the game has changed
from a financial perspective over the course of 16 years. Namely, disparity has taken over.

In 1993, the difference between the most valuable club (the Yankees) and the 10th most valuable club (the A's) was $52 million; in 2009, the difference between the most valuable club (still the Yankees) and the 10th most valuable club (the White Sox) is $1.05 billion. Meanwhile, the difference in value between the A's and the Yankees has grown to an astounding $1.18 billion.

Also of note, four of the seven teams that played in the A.L. East in 1993 have built new stadiums since 1993. The Blue Jays and Orioles both opened new stadiums prior to 1993, in 1989 and 1992, respectively.

Clearly, the decision to buy a baseball team
in the early '90s was a pretty good one.

[Note: 1993 valuations are based on figures available at Baseball Chronology.]

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