After making the playoffs last season, the Chicago Bears are fighting for their lives in 2019. Despite this, Forbes revealed that the Bears are worth well over $1 billion, and their valuation only went up this year. Why exactly did it increase, and who owns the team?
How Forbes measured the value of all 32 NFL teams
Forbes recently examined the financial status of all 32 NFL teams. They also came up with each team’s operating income as well as how much their valuation increased over the past year. Here’s their methodology for determining each team’s value:
“Revenues and operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) are for the 2018 season and net of stadium debt service … We employ the cash basis, rather than the accrual basis, of accounting. Team values are enterprise value (equity plus net debt) and include the economics of the team’s stadium but not the value of its real estate.”
At the top of the list are the usual suspects, including the Dallas Cowboys ($4.9 billion), New England Patriots ($4.1 billion), New York Giants ($3.9 billion), Los Angeles Rams ($3.8 billion), and San Francisco 49ers ($3.5 billion). The franchise with the lowest value is the Buffalo Bills at $1.9 billion.
The Bears’ growth in value over the last year
Forbes valued the Bears at $3.45 billion, which represents a 19% jump from last season. Only the Raiders saw higher growth (percentage-wise) in valuation from last year to this year.
In a more in-depth analysis of the Bears, Forbes tried to determine why the team saw such a big increase in value in 2019. “Good football” in 2018 was credited for some growth as the Bears won the NFC North under Matt Nagy. Although Chicago lost the wild-card game, they experienced more success than the prior four (losing) seasons.
Then, during the offseason, the Bears managed to hold on to players on both sides of the football. Another growth factor: “With a pair of teams in both the New York and Los Angeles markets, Chicago is the biggest city with only one NFL franchise,” explains Forbes.
With the Bears dominating one of the league’s biggest markets as the lone team in the Windy City, they also have an incredible market share that even big-city teams in Los Angeles and New York can’t claim. Perhaps we’ll see a drop in growth next year, as the Bears are at .500 through 12 games.
The Chicago Bears’ ownership
The Bears are currently owned by the McCaskey family, spearheaded by 95-year old Virginia Halas McCaskey. She is the daughter of former Bears’ coach, player, and owner George Halas. Forbes shared how Halas came to not just own the Bears but essentially help form the NFL itself:
“Back in 1920, Halas sat down with the leaders of 12 other football clubs in a Canton, Ohio car showroom and drew up plans for the American Professional Football Association, a precursor to the NFL. The first expansion fee was $100 per team.
Today, the average NFL team is worth $1.4 billion. McCaskey and her family still own an estimated 80% of the Bears, a team worth $1.7 billion despite recent mediocre results on the field.”
Unlike some NFL teams owned by titans of industry, the McCaskey family made their money from owning the Bears. Regardless of changes in growth, the team will likely stay in the family for a long time.