Jul 17, 2012

The newest Forbes Magazine franchise valuations has been released, and the Pittsburgh Steelers have landed as the 21st most valuable franchise in the world, with a value of a little over a billion dollars ($1.02 billion, according to Forbes).

Not bad for a blue collar town, no?

The Steelers, which are owned by the Rooney family, bring in roughly $50 million each year in gate receipts from the 65,050 seat Heinz Field and $2.85 million a year from their naming rights deal with the Heinz Company. That $50 million-plus in revenue aside, most of the team’s value comes from its winning pedigree — the Steelers have won more Lombardi Trophies than any other NFL team (6) and, along with the Cowboys, appeared in the most Super Bowls (8) and a fan base that finds its roots in and outside of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. The Steelers are also consistently among the top of the league in jersey sales with QB Ben Roethlisberger and S Troy Polamalu finishing in the top 25 in jersey sales 2 of the last three years (Polamalu had the league’s most popular jersey in 2010).

Not bad for one of the NFL’s “smaller, big markets” with a city population of a little over 300,000 and a median income of under $40,000. Local Steelers fans may not have as much disposable income as some of the NFL’s other big cities, but the fan base is certainly passionate — The Steelers have sold out every home game at Heinz Field and Three Rivers Stadium since 1972.

Manchester United topped Forbes list as the world’s most valuable sports franchise, with a valuation of $2.23 billion dollars, with Real Madrid finishing second ($1.88 billion) and the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and MLB’s New York Yankees finishing in a third place tie ($1.85 billion).

In a statement that clearly shows the popularity of the NFL, all 32 NFL franchises were somewhere on Forbes top 50 list, while Major League Baseball had seven franchises, and the NBA had two franchises in the top 50.

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