Niners still lagging in value among NFL teams

As the 49ers continue to send signals they are getting closer and closer to building their new stadium in Santa Clara, already having lined up $138 million in luxury suites for the facility scheduled to open in 2015, they are creeping ever closer to becoming a $1 billion operation. That makes them one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world, but they lag behind many other NFL teams.

That is likely to change by the time their new stadium gets built, if it gets built, but that's still no sure thing yet with financing remaining a major issue before ground is actually broken near the Great America theme park.

For now, San Francisco – once considered among the gold standard of NFL franchises – must settle for lingering in the bottom third of NFL teams in Forbes magazine's list of the world's 50 most valuable sports teams. The 49ers rank No. 29 on the list released earlier this week, but they stand just No. 22 among NFL teams, all 32 of which were included in the top 45 professional franchises.

Forbes says the 49ers are worth $925 million as the value of NFL teams in general continues to soar. But that's not even enough to make them the most valuable franchise in the NFC West, a distinction that belongs to the Seattle Seahawks ($989 million, 19th in NFL, 25th in world). The division is home to three franchises in the bottom third of the rankings, including Arizona ($919 million, 23rd/30th) and St. Louis ($779 million, 29th/40th)

San Francisco's neighborhood rival in the Bay Area, the Oakland Raiders, are listed as the 43rd most valuable sports team on earth, but they are next to last among NFL teams with a reported value of $758 million. The Jacksonville Jaguars bring up the rear at $725 million.

The Dallas Cowboys are listed as the NFL's most valuable team with a worth of $1.81 billion, ahead of the Washington Redskins (4th in world, $1.55 billion) and the New England Patriots (6th, $1.37 billion). Thirteen other NFL franchises are considered to have a worth of $1 billion or more.

While this list shows how valuable NFL teams really are as owners create a lockout and haggle with players over a new collective bargaining agreement, what may come as a surprise is the number of soccer teams that made the top end of franchise values.

The world's top spot went to the soccer team Manchester United, which is valued at $1.86 billion. That franchise is owned by the Glazer family, the same family that owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

While the NFL dominated this list, there were no teams from the NBA or NHL that made it into the top 45. Those leagues don't share the good fortune of the NFL in having $3.8 billion in broadcast deals to divide annually among their teams.

Soccer came in with six franchises, five of which were valued higher than the 49ers – No. 1 Manchester United, No. 5 Real Madrid, No. 7 Arsenal, No. 19 Bayern Munich and No. 26 Barcelona.

Major League Baseball landed five franchises, but just one in the top 30. The New York Yankees came in No. 3, but the next baseball team didn't appear until the Boston Red Sox at No. 31.

The other two non-NFL teams were involved in the auto racing realm – No. 13 Ferrari Racing Team and No. 37 McClaren Auto Racing.

These are the estimated values of the 32 NFL franchises, according to Forbes, with their world rankings in parentheses:

1 (2) – Dallas Cowboys, $1.81 billion
2 (4) – Washington Redskins, $1.55 billion
3 (6) – New England Patriots, $1.37 billion
4 (8) – New York Giants, $1.18 billion
5 (9) – Houston Texans, $1.17 billion
6 (10) – New York Jets, $1.14 billion
7 (11) – Philadelphia Eagles, $1.12 billion
8 (12) – Baltimore Ravens, $1.07 billion
9 (14) – Chicago Bears, $1.07 billion
10 (15) – Denver Broncos, $1.05 billion
11 (16) – Indianapolis Colts, $1.04 billion
12 (17) – Carolina Panthers, $1.04 billion
13 (18) – Tampa Bay Buccaneers, $1.03 billion
14 (20) – Green Bay Packers, $1.02 billion
15 (21) – Cleveland Browns, $1.02 billion
16 (22) – Miami Dolphins, $1.02 billion
17 (23) – Pittsburgh Steelers, $996 million
18 (24) – Tennessee Titans, $994 million
19 (25) – Seattle Seahawks, $989 million
20 (27) – Kansas City Chiefs, $965 million
21 (28) – New Orleans Saints, $955 million
22 (29) – San Francisco 49ers, $925 million
23 (30) – Arizona Cardinals, $919 million
24 (32) – San Diego Chargers, $907 million
25 (33) – Cincinnati Bengals, $905 million
26 (35) – Atlanta Falcons, $831 million
27 (36) – Detroit Lions, $817 million
28 (39) – Buffalo Bills, $779 million
29 (40) – St. Louis Rams, $779 million
30 (41) – Minnesota Vikings, $774 million
31 (43) – Oakland Raiders, $758 million
32 (45) – Jacksonville Jaguars, $725 million

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