BY Adam Lewis 12:30PM 03/26/2014

Forbes: Mariners value up 10 percent to $710M

The Oakland Athletics finished 25 games in front of the Mariners (worth $710 million) and won the AL West last season. Forbes estimates the A’s are worth $495 million.

Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez will make nearly $23 million this season. The Mariners are worth $710 million. / Getty Images

Boosted by the revenue potential in the April 2013 purchase of a controlling interest in the Root Sports regional television network, the Seattle Mariners are worth $710 million, according to Forbes magazine’s March valuations of Major League Baseball teams.

It’s approximately a 10 percent increase from last year when the club was valued at $644 million but it doesn’t alter their financial standing compared to the rest of the league.

In each of the last two years, the Mariners were the 12th-most valuable franchise, according to Forbes. The magazine’s latest estimates reports the club grossed $210 million in revenue and earned a $5.3 million operating income in 2013.

The average value of a franchise is $811 million, a nine percent gain from last year. Unsurprisingly, the New York Yankees, for the 17th consecutive year, topped the list at $2.5 billion while the Tampa Bay Rays were last at $485 million.

The Oakland Athletics, who won the American League West and finished 25 games in front of the Mariners in 2013, ranked 28th ($495 million).

Here’s how Forbes estimates the worth of an MLB team:

Values are enterprise values (debt plus equity) and include completed television deals that begin in the future, but exclude the equity interests in other assets the team may own, such as regional sports networks or concession businesses. Revenues and operating income figures include all revenue and expenses for each team and its stadium where applicable.

In the magazine’s brief summary of the Mariners, it points to last year’s deal with Root Sports. The Mariners own 71 percent of the network while DirecTV owns 29 percent.

Beginning with the 2014 season the rights fee for Mariners will average $103 million over 18 years with the total value of the deal, including the team’s equity stake, worth an estimated $2.5 billion. No wonder the Mariners made the biggest free agent splash of the off-season by inking second baseman Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240 million deal.

Here’s the rankings of values, courtesy of CBS Sports:

  1. New York Yankees – $2.5 billion
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers – $2 billion
  3. Boston Red Sox – $1.5 billion
  4. Chicago Cubs – $1.2 billion
  5. San Francisco Giants – $1 billion
  6. Philadelphia Phillies – $975 million
  7. Texas Rangers – $825 million
  8. St. Louis Cardinals – $820 million
  9. New York Mets – $800 million
  10. Los Angeles Angels – $775 million
  11. Atlanta Braves – $730 million
  12. Seattle Mariners – $710 million
  13. Washington Nationals – $700 million
  14. Chicago White Sox – $695 million
  15. Detroit Tigers – $680 million
  16. Baltimore Orioles – $620 million
  17. San Diego Padres – $615 million
  18. Toronto Blue Jays – $610 million
  19. Minnesota Twins – $605 million
  20. Cincinnati Reds – $600 million
  21. Arizona Diamondbacks – $585 million
  22. Colorado Rockies – $575 million
  23. Pittsburgh Pirates – $572 million
  24. Cleveland Indians – $570 million
  25. Milwaukee Brewers – $565 million
  26. Houston Astros – $530 million
  27. Miami Marlins – $500 million
  28. Oakland Athletics – $495 million
  29. Kansas City Royals – $490 million
  30. Tampa Bay Rays – $485 million


  • RadioGuy

    Wow, that’s $10 million per 2013 win. No wonder there’s so little desire in the front office to put a truly competitive team on the field…losing year after year has had no deleterious effect on their bottom line. Owning the Seattle Mariners must be like owning the phone company when Bell had a monopoly: “We don’t care because we don’t have to.”

    • Jeff Shope

      kinda like cable companies and cable networks now

      • art thiel

        Ity’s why DirecTV can tell the Pac-12 Network to drop dead.

    • Skip Horne

      So true so true, however with this ownership group so entrenched for so long they have a feeling of being bullet proof. They are being called on the carpet more and more, but nothing like they would be if this was an east coast market. The east coast media would be camped outside Lincolns home with torches and boiling oil calling for his head. This local media takes more of a milk and cookies approach to the Mariners. I can’t for the life of me figure why they are treated with kid gloves. I continue to shout that until this current ownership sells the team to a true baseball minded ownership that truly wants to compete for a WS past the second week in May each year. “NOTHING” will change. Your quote of “We don’t care because we don’t have to”. Is so spot on it’s incredible.

      • art thiel

        I’ve written for several years that change at the top was needed, but the same has been written by other writers in other markets with similar failing ownerships. Not one has changed because of media/fan clamor, for the very reason you state: They have a monopoly, so they don’t have to care.

    • jafabian

      That’s one reason why we have to pray that they Sounders go all the way. If the Seahawks march to the Super Bowl made them go after Cano who knows what they’ll do if the Sounders win the MLS Cup?

      • art thiel

        I think they were well into Cano before the SB, but the point is the same: Incompetence created urgency that qualifies as reckless.

    • art thiel

      I’ve used that Ma Bell quote for years to explain the Mariners, as well as every pro sports team. It’s why every big business aspires to being a monopoly.

  • Jamo57

    Adam, thank you for relieving me of any guilt I might have felt over not spending a dime in SoDo this summer. I’m glad to know Howard won’t be losing any sleep over my lost shekels.

  • jafabian

    So the acquisitions of Root Sports and Robinson Cano adds value to 10%. I wonder if having 700,000 show up for a Seahawks victory parade played a role as well?????

    • art thiel

      The parade doesn’t add value. It adds urgency.

  • isaacalexander

    Hey Adam, is this the first time since the Mariners acquired Root Sports Northwest that we’ve had someone state the ownership breakdown of the channel? “The Mariners own 71 percent of the network while DirecTV owns 29 percent”. How was Forbes able to get this number and not any other news outlet? And two, why can’t the Mariners just come out and say this publically? Is Howard just afraid of more criticism?

    • art thiel

      Forbes is the first to disclose, Isaac, and I don’t know where they got it. The Mariners are fiercely opaque about biz ops. And they probably will deny Forbes’ numbers, as all teams do.

  • Selig Archipeligo

    Only a stankhouse like the M’s can keep increasing in value while their product gets worse. This will make my third full year in a row of boycotting Safeco and the FO clowns. Clearly, I’m not missing anything but the $11 beers.

    • art thiel

      Sadly, even boycotting games won’t have impact when 80 percent of revs come from TV. The Mariners have lost half their attendance and still operate with an annual profit.