The Miami Dolphins have trouble selling tickets, but are still worth over a billion dollars. Forbes released its annual report of NFL team valuations on Wednesday, and Miami is the 15th most valuable franchise in the league despite making the playoffs just once in the last decade.
Forbes values the Dolphins at $1.06 billion, up from $1.01 billion in 2011. Owner Stephen Ross paid $550 million for a 50% stake in the team and the rights to Sun Life Stadium and the surrounding land from Wayne Huizenga in 2008. In 2009, he purchased the remaining stake in the team for $1 billion.
The Dallas Cowboys are by far the most valuable team in the NFL, worth $2.10 billion. Rounding out the top five are the New England Patriots ($1.64 billion), Washington Redskins ($1.60 billion), New York Giants ($1.47 billion), and Houston Texans ($1.31 billion).
Forbes estimates the Dolphins earned $14.5 million last year on revenue of $265 million. The team has one of the biggest debt burdens in the NFL, with a 36% debt/value ratio. Only the two New York teams have higher debt ratios, having jointly opened a new stadium in New Jersey a few seasons ago.
"Attendance fell 10% last season at Sun Life Stadium as fans endured a third straight losing season," Forbes wrote of the team. Celebrities Marc Anthony, Serena and Venus Williams, Jennifer Lopez, and Fergie are all minority owners of the team, but Ross, founder of The Related Companies, owns a 95% stake.
The Dolphins are easily the most valuable franchise in South Florida. They were the only local team to make Forbes' list of top 50 sports franchises earlier this summer. The Miami Heat, South Florida's marquee franchise, were valued at $457 million by Forbes in January.
The NFL continues to be the most valuable sports league in America. The Jacksonville Jaguars were valued at $770 million, lowest in the league but much more than the Heat's valuation. The league earns over $4 billion a season in television deals alone.