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Baseball: MLB teams leap 23 percent in value: Forbes


Major League Baseball teams have jumped in value 23 percent to an average of $744 million according to Forbes magazine, the biggest one-year jump in value in its 15 years of tracking club values.

The magazine's annual list of team values released on Wednesday ranked the New York Yankees atop the 30-team league for the 16th year in a row at $2.3 billion, making them the most valuable club in North American pro sports.

Two Madonna concerts and an exhibition football match between Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain at Yankee Stadium helped boost the club's record total.

Team values were boosted greatly, Forbes said, because of increasing television rights fees to each club and growing values for digital media income and the league's investments.

Teams received a boost because the Montreal Expos, bought by the other 29 league clubs in 2002 for $120 million, were sold in 2006 as the Washington Nationals for $450 million to the Lerner family, and the sale profits were put into a hedge fund that produced $50 million revenue per club in 2012.

Add to that MLB Advanced Media, which generated about $650 million in revenue last year and was valued conservatively at $6 billion by Forbes, which said it had more than three million subscribers to various products.

Revenues rose seven percent last year to an average of $227 million per club while operating income fell nine percent to $13.1 million due to higher salary costs and stadium expenses, the report said.

The major difference in revenue between clubs comes from local television contract deals that are not shared between all teams.

But each team received a huge boost for new eight-year national television contract deals that will bring the league $12.4 billion, an average of $52 million a season for each of the league's 30 clubs through the 2021 campaign.

That jump boosted the television income figures by more than double over the prior deals.

The Yankees' rise was helped by Fox purchasing a stake in YES, the Yankees local telecast network that will pay the club $85 million for rights this year rising to an annual payout of $350 million in 2042.

The Los Angeles Dodgers were second on the most valuable list at $1.6 billion after a group that included former NBA star Magic Johnson purchased the team and associated property for $2 billion.

A new $7 billion television deal was announced by the Dodgers earlier this year.

The Chicago Cubs, valued at $1 billion, and Philadelphia Phillies, valued at $893 million, are both among the top five and both expecting new local TV deals soon. The Cubs will ink a new deal in 2015, the same year the Phillies could see one of their deals more than double in value.

World Series champion San Francisco, having captured the crown for the second time in three years, is now worth $786 million, a jump of 22 percent from last year thanks in part due to 3.4 million spectators, fourth-best in the league, and paying down the debt on their ballpark, which could be paid off by 2017.

The Oakland A's saw the greatest jump in value, 46 percent, to $468 million thanks to more than $30 million in revenue sharing income from rival clubs plus a 14 percent jump in home attendance to 20,728 a game.