The World’s Most Valuable Sports Empires 2023
eam owners have hit the jackpot by leveraging and scaling their brands and intellectual property. And they’ve done it in so many different ways: by buying into more teams, commanding higher prices for media rights, expanding content distribution with streaming, cross-selling sponsorships through various sports assets, developing mixed-use real estate and investing in sports-related technology, analytics, sports betting and niche sports, like indoor lacrosse.
The upshot: The world’s 25 most valuable sports empires are worth a total of $173 billion, 23% more than a . This year, we added a new 10% premium to the aggregate value of a sports empire to account for the scalability that comes with owning multiple sports properties. Even without the premium, the top 25 sports empires still did much better than last year. They would’ve been up 12%, to $158 billion.
Liberty Media’s sports empire, worth $21 billion, sits on top. Headed by billionaire John Malone, Liberty’s primary sports assets are the Formula One auto-racing circuit (enterprise value: $17.1 billion) and the Atlanta Braves MLB team ($2.1 billion). Formula One had a banner 2022, across the ESPN family of networks, the highest on record for the series, and signed a new television deal in June worth at least $75 million a year, 15 times its previous deal. No wonder Saudi Arabia’s Sovereign Wealth Fund considered acquiring Formula One for $20 billion last year, to Bloomberg.
As for the 2021 World Series champion Atlanta Braves, it appears that Malone, who paid $400 million for the team in 2007, might be preparing to cash in by them. Thanks in part to the Braves’ new ballpark and , a mixed-use real estate project, revenue for the first nine months of 2022 was $535 million compared with $466 million for the same period in 2021. There are worse things than betting on Malone. During the past year, the price of Formula One’s and the Atlanta Braves’ tracking stocks have increased 5% and 35%, respectively, while the S&P 500 has fallen 13%.
Malone is the exception and not the rule among sports empire owners. Rather than use stock to underpin their strategy, many of them build off their most valuable teams, some believing in dominating a local market and others thinking globally.
Billionaire Ted Leonsis, who owns Monumental Sports and Entertainment, is a prime example of local-market domination. MSE owns Washington’s NBA Wizards and NHL Capitals as well the the building both teams play in, Capital One Arena. MSE recently the 66% of NBC Sports Washington it didn’t already own, giving Leonsis control of the distribution of his content. We value MSE at $4.51 billion, 20th on our list. Leonsis appears to be looking to add to his local sports empire by MLB’s Washington Nationals.
An example of a more global thinker is Kroenke Sports and Entertainment, an empire run by billionaire Stan Kroenke that ranges from England (soccer team Arsenal), to the western U.S. (the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, the Denver Nuggets of the NBA and the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams). KSE’s enterprise value totals $12.75 billion, good enough for second place on this year’s list. Kroenke loves the real estate play, having poured over $5 billion of his own money into his football team’s new SoFi Stadium and nearby , which will include everything from food and fitness to art and entertainment.
Big on the tech and venture capital opportunities in sports is Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment. Sure, its linchpin is its ownership of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils of the NHL. But by our count, HBSE, ranked No. 18 on our list with a valuation of $4.65 billion, gets over $100 million of its value from its stakes in technology, esports and lifestyle investments via properties like , and .
Investment firms, relatively new entrants in team ownership, may no longer be satisfied with owning small pieces of teams. Sure, North American leagues like the NBA, MLB and the NHL on how much institutional investors can own, and the NFL prohibits them altogether. But it’s possible to use a big European brand to back into owning a big-time template. Prime example: RedBird Capital, a new entrant to the top 25 by dint of buying a controlling stake in Italian soccer team AC Milan in June for $1.28 billion. The prior year, RedBird purchased an 11% stake in Fenway Sports Group, whose holdings include MLB’s Boston Red Sox, English soccer team Liverpool and the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. RedBird weighs in at 25th on our list, worth $3.6 billion. Fenway’s value is $10.4 billion, good enough for fourth.
Properties: Atlanta Braves, Formula 1, Drone Racing League*, Kroenke Arena Co.*, Meyer Shank Racing*, Overtime Sports*
Key People: Gregory Maffei (president and CEO), Albert Rosenthaler (CCDO)
Properties: Los Angeles Rams, Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets, Arsenal FC, The Guard, Colorado Rapids, Colorado Mammoth, Altitude Sports and Entertainment
Properties: Dallas Cowboys, Legends Hospitality*, The Star, GameSquare Esports*
Key Person: Jerry Jones (owner, president and general manager of the Cowboys)
Properties: Boston Red Sox, Liverpool FC, Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing*, NESN, Fenway Sports Management, Pittsburgh Penguins
Key People: John Henry (cofounder and principal owner), Thomas Werner (co founder and chairman)
Properties: New York Knicks, New York Rangers, Counter Logic Gaming, Hartford Wolf Pack
Key People: James Dolan (executive chairman), David Hopkinson (president and COO)
Properties: New England Patriots, New England Revolution, UFC*, Kraft Analytics Group, DraftKings*, Oxygen Esports*
Properties: New York Yankees, Legends Hospitality*, YES Network*, New York City FC*, Yankee Stadium Events, AC Milan*
Key People: Bryan Glazer (owner and co-chairman of the Buccaneers), Edward Glazer (owner and co-chairman of the Buccaneers), Joel Glazer (owner and co-chairman of the Buccaneers)
Properties: Seattle Seahawks, Portland Trail Blazers, Seattle Sounders*
Properties: Toronto Raptors, Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto FC, Toronto Argonauts, Toronto Marlies
Properties: San Francisco 49ers, Leeds United* FC, Elevate Sports Ventures*
Key People: Denise DeBartolo York (owner and co-chairman of the 49ers), John York (owner and co-chairman of the 49ers)
Key People: Shad Khan (owner of the Jaguars), Tony Khan (chief football strategy officer; CEO and general manager of AEW)
Properties: Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United, PGA Tour Superstore, AMBSE Ventures*
Properties: Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Devils, New Meta Entertainment*, Elevate Sports Ventures*, HBSE Ventures, Utica Comets
Key People: Josh Harris (cofounder and managing general partner), David Blitzer (co founder and co-managing partner)
Properties: Washington Wizards, Washington Capitals, aXiomatic*, NBC Sports Washington, Monumental Sports Network, Washington Mystics
Properties: Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres, Adpro Sports, Buffalo Bandits, Rochester Americans, Rochester Knighthawks
Properties: Minnesota Vikings, Orlando City SC, Orlando Price, Wise Ventures
Properties: Brooklyn Nets, San Diego Seals, Las Vegas Desert Dogs, New York Liberty, G2 Esports*, LAFC*
Properties: AC Milan, Fenway Sports Group*, Yes Network*, Rajasthan Royals*, Toulouse FC, XFL*, Dream Sports*
To qualify as a sports empire a person or company must own a majority stake in at least one sports team and its aggregate investments in other sports-related properties must total at least $100 million. Our empire values are the aggregate enterprise values of its holdings multiplied by 1.1. We think a 10% premium to the sum of the parts is conservative given the scale and breadth of these assets. Our valuation sources were our most recent , ,, , enterprise values and soon-to-be-published MLS valuations. For sports-related assets not included in our database, we relied on owners and investors in these businesses, sports bankers, attorneys and media analysts.