Forbes magazine came out with its annual ranking of Major League Baseball teams according to their own valuations, and the Toronto Blue Jays are ranked 27th on the list, appraised at $337 million. That’s just ahead of the Rays, Athletics and Pirates.
As it has come to be expected, the New York Yankees led all other franchises on the list for the fourteenth straight year since Forbes originally started putting together their rankings, with their worth estimated at $1.7 billion. In fact, if the valuations are accurate, the Yankees revenue from just last season ($427 million) would be enough to purchase the Blue Jays franchise.
While the numbers may be disappointing for as large of a market as Toronto, a comparison to the Expos goes beyond hyperbole.
The Blue Jays are starting to resemble the Montreal Expos, the franchise now called the Washington Nationals because people stopped going to their games after the 1994-95 baseball strike. The team led the American League in attendance six straight years starting in 1989. They drew more than 4 million fans each year from 1991 through 1993. Last year attendance at the Rogers Centre fell 13% to 1.6 million fans. The Blue Jays, owned by Rogers Communications, the largest cable company in Canada had a moderate payroll last season ($79 million) but stand little chance of competing in the American League East, the best division in the majors.
Truth be told, there isn’t a richer owner or ownership group in all of baseball than Rogers Communications, and Forbes isn’t properly accounting for the team’s use as a content provider for their owner’s fleet of sports television and radio networks. This would also explain the team’s low operating income which is also ranked 27th in the league.
In addition, the Blue Jays along with the Atlanta Braves are the only two teams to have zero in the way of debt.
There’s no financial crisis here. The ship is running as smoothly as ever.