Bears 8th most valuable team in NFL

Bears president George Halas McCaskey greets fans on Friday, July 25, 2014 in Bourbonnais. The McCaskey family is principal owner of the Bears, the eighth most valuable franchise in the NFL, according to Forbes. H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com (H. Rick Bamman)

NEW YORK – The Dallas Cowboys are the first U.S. sports franchise to top $3 billion in value.

For the eighth straight year, the Cowboys are worth the most of all 32 NFL franchises, according to Forbes. They're valued at $3.2 billion; only Real Madrid at $3.4 billion is worth more among global franchises.

Dallas posted the NFL's highest revenue, $560 million, and operating income, $246 million. That was far ahead of second-place New England, worth $2.6 billion and with $428 million in revenues, $147 million in operating income.

But the Patriots had the biggest increase since last year, up 44 percent in value. Dallas was up 39 percent.

The average NFL franchise value for 2014 is $1.43 billion, the highest in the 17 years the business magazine has tracked professional football. That shows a 23 percent increase, the largest in one year since 1999.

Forbes determines team values using equity plus net debt figures, and accounts for each team's current stadium situation, with adjustments for pending new stadiums and renovations to existing ones.

Washington ($2.4 billion) is third in value, increasing 41 percent since the last rankings, and the New York Giants ($2.1 billion) are fourth.

The Bears are eighth on the list, valued at $1.7 billion. That's up 36 percent from 2013, according to Forbes. The Bears generated $309 million in revenue and $57.1 million in operating income in 2013.

For the 2013 season, the average NFL team generated record revenue of $299 million and operating income of $53 million. Each franchise received a record $170 million of national revenue, mainly from league broadcasting and licensing fees.

At the bottom are Buffalo, worth $935 million and currently for sale after owner Ralph Wilson's death, and St. Louis at $930 million. But every team increased in worth, the lowest rise being Arizona at 4 percent.

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