Detroit Lions the only NFL team that's losing money

FORBES: The Detroit Lions are the only NFL team losing money

8/14/13 in NFL   |   JoeKukura   |   492 respect

Blog Photo - Detroit Lions the only NFL team that's losing moneyThe cigar-munching fatcats at Forbes magazine typically kill the slow NFL preseason news days with their fascinating annual ranking of the Most Valuable NFL teams. In 2013, Forbes found that most NFL teams are worth more than a billion dollars, and the average NFL franchise value is a very healthy $1.17 billion. But Forbes also found a curious and alarming anomaly -- this past year, the Detroit Lions are the only NFL franchise that actually operated at a financial loss. In fact, the Lions franchise has now lost money for four years straight.

Take heart, Lions fans -- even though your franchise has operated at a loss for four years in a row, you are still not the least-valuable franchise in the NFL! That distinction again goes to the Oakland Raiders, whose terrible stadium keeps them as the lowest-valued franchise in the NFL. I got ten bucks that says the Raiders move back to Los Angeles by 2017.

The Forbes Most Valuable NFL Teams list for 2013 shows that the Detroit Lions had a $3.5 million operating loss over the last year, the only team to lose money. These figures are based on estimated values of stadium value, naming rights deals, sponsorships and ticket sales -- because NFL owners would assassinate this year's draft picks before they open their books to some reporter from Forbes.

In contrast to the Lions, the average NFL team profit this year was $44 million.

Blog Photo - Detroit Lions the only NFL team that's losing moneyLet us not hate on the Lions for their meager profits last year. Unlike most owners, the William Clay Fords who run the Lions are paying deeply from their own pockets for the team's new stadium (though it is named after them). The Lions also have the highest payroll in football, thanks to high-pick successes and insanely fat contracts of Ndamukong Suh, Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson.

Plus there is the whole Detroit economy thing.

"It certainly impacts the team," Forbes' Kurt Badenhausen said in an interview. "They've had a net migration out of the city of 140,000 people over the last five years. It's a dwindling population base. That's fewer and fewer fans to buy tickets, to buy merchandise."

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers only cleared $2 million in profits last season, so the Lions almost had some company in the loss department. The Dallas Cowboys had the highest profit ($251 Million) thanks to their megabucks new stadium naming rights deal with AT&T.
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