Survey: Vikings’ value up $400 million in a year

It’s a great time to be the owner of a private company with a stadium largely paid for by someone else.

Forbes Magazine released its ranking of the value of NFL teams, and has estimated the Minnesota Vikings are worth $1.59 billion. That’s a pretty good 10-year return on investment for Zygi Wilf, who bought the team in 2005 for $600 million.

It’s also a huge increase in value in just two months because the same magazine said the franchise was worth $1.15 billion when it released its ranking of all major sports franchises in July.

Forbes says the Vikings had $281 million in revenue in 2014 and operating income of $35 million.

The latest guess puts the Vikings at 18th in the NFL, up from last year’s 20th-place listing, when its operating income was listed at only $5 million and its revenue at the identical $281 million.

NFL ownership is like printing money.

The average NFL team is worth $1.97 billion, 38 percent more than last year.

It’s hard to lose money, Forbes’ Mike Ozanian suggests.

But the golden goose of television money cannot last, right? Too many commercials and not enough action on the field during the three-hour broadcasts. But there’s just enough time to hit that NFL Now app and the NFL Fantasy Football app to check out the scores highlights and stats of other games to see how your fantasy roster is doing.

To certain degree, all sports – which should be viewed as huge social networks – are using technology to cast as big a net as possible.

The popularity of the NFL affords it the ability to generate more revenue by selling rights by device, versus by platform, which is what other leagues have pursued through the TV Everywhere approach. Thus two years ago the league landed a $1 billion streaming deal with Verizon, network outrage be damned.

For my money, the prosperity of the NFL can be best illustrated not with the Cowboys or a dynasty like the Patriots, or the Giants, who have won two titles since 2007 and play in the biggest market. Rather, it can be seen through the transaction lens of the league’s small market teams that have struggled on the field.

Last year, the Buffalo Bills, who play in a small market in western New York, were sold for $1.4 billion to Terry Pegula, who outbid rocker Jon Bon Jovi by $350 million. In 2011, Shahid Khan bought the Jacksonville Jaguars, another small market team, for $770 million.

Thus in three years the market value for a struggling NFL team almost doubled. Oh, and in between the sale of the Jaguars and Bills, Jimmy Haslam bought the Cleveland Browns over three years for $987 million, 86% more than Al Lerner paid for the team in 1998.

Last I checked, the Browns haven’t been good since Brian Sipe got picked in the end zone by Mike Davis in the 1980 AFC Divisional Playoff game.

The operating income figures do not include the $27 million each team may have to pay to settle a lawsuit over concussions.