Forbes magazine released their rankings of NFL franchise values, and I'll admit that I found the results surprising. San Francisco and Oakland are two teams playing in a reasonably large media market and can boast about some of the most storied histories in the NFL. Yet the 49ers came in at #22 and the Raiders were next to last at #31!
Looking further into the ranking methodology, the best explanation I can come up with is that stadium conditions play a large part in determining franchise values. Bay Area fans are well aware of the deteriorating conditions of both the Coliseum and Candlestick Park, and of the 49er's drawn-out saga to find a new home.
It's interesting how mega stadiums have become so important for creating revenue for professional sports teams. Today's modern stadiums are designed to create demand for increased ticket prices, expensive luxury booths, stadium concessions and merchandising sales. And NFL franchises, with only 10 guaranteed home games a year, need to milk every penny out of those games as possible. Considering all this it's no surprise that owners are pushing for a longer regular season with a few more home games with (presumed) sell out crowds paying for tickets, parking, and all the other necessities at the game.
Many of these titanic home fields were funding at least in part with taxpayer dollars, something Bay Area residents have been hesitant to approve. With the Giants funding their own beautiful, highly successful ballpark it will probably fall upon the Niners and Raiders to pay for their own stadium improvements. With both teams wanting new digs and even rumors of a stadium sharing plan circulating it will be a fascinating story to follow.
I will also be curious to see if there is a fan backlash against being pumped for every dollar possible while trying to enjoy a live game. I love live football, but the prospect of paying a few hundred dollars up to 10 weekends a year in the fall is a bit too much to swallow.