The news Tuesday that New York Yankees co-owner Hank Steinbrenner had died at the age of 63 does not put the future of Major League Baseball’s most valuable franchise at risk. That’s because the Steinbrenner family’s net worth has been preserved and grown threw savvy business decisions and sheer luck during a time of misfortune.
Hal and Hank Steinbrenner controlled of the New York Yankees
Unlike the case with some other families, the Steinbrenners went through an orderly transition following the death in 2010 of patriarch George Steinbrenner and likely will continue to run the New York Yankees and their business empire smoothly.
Hank Steinbrenner was in his 11th year as co-chairman of the New York Yankees, sharing that responsibility with younger brother Hal. Sisters Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal and Jessica Steinbrenner are general partners and vice-chairs.
Hank had been less visible in the team’s operations and management in recent years, moving Hal to the forefront as the most visible figure at the upper levels of the organization. Most crucially, the family has been resolute in leaving the most difficult baseball decisions in the hands of Brian Cashman. He was the youngest general manager in the major leagues when he took the post in 1998.
The 1998 Yankees won the World Series and Cashman quickly built a reputation for lending stability to a franchise known for then-owner George Steinbrenner’s mercurial behavior. The Steinbrenner sons largely eschewed their father’s flair for creating controversy. Having Cashman in charge left Hank with time to focus on the family’s horse business in Ocala, Florida, and make a foray into Indy Car racing.
George Steinbrenner started the empire
Forbes pegged the value of the New York Yankees at $5 billion last week. The team is easily the most valuable in Major League Baseball, second only to Jerry Jones’ Dallas Cowboys among all U.S. sports franchises, and arguably undervalued because of its connection to the YES Network. The Steinbrenner family’s Yankee Global Enterprises owns 26% of YES Network and 20% of the New York City FC in Major League Soccer.
With the multiple revenue streams and lucrative licensing opportunities, the family is positioned to handle the estate-tax implications following Hank Steinbrenner’s death, so selling the Yankees has never been a consideration.
The family dodged a huge estate-tax bill when George Steinbrenner died in 2010. Steinbrenner had purchased the New York Yankees from CBS for $10 million in 1973 with money from the family shipbuilding business. His personal net worth was said to exceed $1.1 billion. However, the 45% federal estate-tax law expired on Dec. 31, 2009, and was restored at 55% percent on Jan. 1, 2011; dying in the interim saved his heirs between $500 million and $600 million in estate taxes.
The Steinbrenners are worth many billions
New York Forbes estimated the Steinbrenner family fortune at $3.8 million in 2015, but the value has soared so that each brother was said to be worth that much a year ago. That factors in the value of the New York Yankees, the soccer team, the cable television network with the highest viewership in baseball, and various other business operations.
Those other business interests include Legends Hospitality Management, formed in 2008 by George Steinbrenner and Jerry Jones to run stadiums and their concessions operations across the country. Legends Hospitality Management has also branched out into helping teams build stadiums, negotiate naming rights, and sell tickets.