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NHL franchise values: Canada making fortune, Columbus league’s least valuable

Greg Wyshynski
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Reading the 2013 NHL franchise valuations from Forbes.com, one comes to the conclusion that Quebec City’s getting an expansion franchise.

Why wouldn’t they? The latest figures show the financial scale tipped so far in Canada’s advantage when it comes to ticket sales – not to mention the massive Canadian television contract – that putting another franchise (or two) nord of da border would seem like a no-brainer for the NHL.

Here’s the skinny, via Forbes:

The average NHL team TISI +0.46% now has an enterprise value (equity plus net debt) of $413 million, 46% more than a year ago. For the first time since Forbes began tracking NHL team values in 1998, three of the league’s five most valuable teams–Toronto Maple Leafs($1.15 billion), Montreal Canadiens ($775 million), Vancouver Canucks ($700 million)–are Canadian (the New York Rangers ($850 million) and defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks ($625 million) are the two U.S. teams to make the top five). And this is also the first time that every Canadian franchise ranks among the top 16 in the 30 team league.

Obviously much of that Canadian windfall comes from supply-and-demand, as teams can charge exorbitant amounts for tickets knowing there are fans that will pay it 41 times per season. From Forbes:

Last season, six of the seven Canadian teams charged an average ticket price for non-premium seats of at least $70, compared with a league average of $64. And the five most expensive average ticket prices were charged by Canadian franchises–Toronto ($120), Montreal ($99), Winnipeg Jets ($95), Vancouver ($90), Edmonton Oilers ($79). Ticket revenues in the NHL are the Mother’s Milk of profits because the home team keeps 100% of the gate. The top teams in gate receipts-per-game last season: Toronto ($2.2 million), Montreal ($2.1 million), Vancouver ($1.8 million), New York Rangers ($1.8 million), and Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers tied at ($1.6 million).

Coming up, the franchise values for all 30 NHL teams, and how they’ve risen or fallen from last season.

Via Forbes, here are the franchise values for the NHL in 2013. Here’s the disclaimer on the valuations:

“Our data comes primarily from sports bankers, public documents (municipal arena leases and financial reports), consultants who provide research and conduct studies for cities on the economic impact of an NHL team, arena naming rights and arena financing, credit rating agencies, player agents, network and cable executives, arena operators and, in a few cases, the teams themselves. Our revenue figures include proceeds from non-NHL events that go to the team owner, such as concerts, and subtract arena-generated funds that are used to pay arena debt.”

Here they are:

RANK TEAM CURRENT VALUE (Millions) % CHANGE FROM 2012
1

Toronto Maple Leafs

1,150 15
2

New York Rangers

850 13
3

Montreal Canadiens

775 35
4

Vancouver Canucks

700 105
5

Chicago Blackhawks

625 79
6

Boston Bruins

600 72
7

Philadelphia Flyers

500 49
8

Pittsburgh Penguins

480 67
9

Detroit Red Wings

470 36
10

Los Angeles Kings

450 63
11

Calgary Flames

420 71
12

Washington Capitals

414 66
13

San Jose Sharks

405 82
14

Edmonton Oilers

400 78
15

Ottawa Senators

380 73
16

Winnipeg Jets

340 70
17

Colorado Avalanche

337 60
18

Dallas Stars

333 39
19

Minnesota Wild

330 51
20

New Jersey Devils

320 56
21

Anaheim Ducks

300 56
22

Buffalo Sabres

250 43
23

Florida Panthers

240 41
24

Nashville Predators

205 23
25

Phoenix Coyotes

200 49
26

New York Islanders

195 26
27

Carolina Hurricanes

187 15
28

St. Louis Blues

185 42
29

Tampa Bay Lightning

180 3
30

Columbus Blue Jackets

175 21

A few reactions:

• The Blue Jackets’ valuation was heavily influenced by their lack of attendance, as they played to an 80 percent capacity last season.

• The New Jersey Devils have the highest percentage of debt to value at 81 percent, which is an extraordinary figure. (The Phoenix Coyotes, recently rescued from bankruptcy, are next at 62 percent.) And yet they found a new owner. Hell of an arena, The Rock.

• The New York Islanders generated the lowest amount of revenue last season at $61 million, which should be remedied when they move into Brooklyn’s state-of-the-art arena. Next lowest: The Colorado Avalanche at 67 million.

• There wasn’t a single team in the NHL last lost value from year to year, with the Vancouver Canucks showing a 105-percent increase in value.

• Finally, a note about how NHL teams fiddle around with their numbers, via Forbes:

The Blackhawks claim to be losing money despite having won two of the last four Stanley Cups and playing in the third-biggest U.S. market. Team owner Rocky Wirtz might be able to truthfully make that claim because he parks certain arena revenue, like suites rentals, at a separate joint venture that owns the United Center. But since Wirtz owns 50% of the JV we give a proportional share of the JV’s revenue and expenses to the Blackhawks.

Remember kids: NHL teams have many recipes by which to cook their books, depending on what they’re after (COUGHrevenuesharingCOUGH).

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