Fobes.com recently released their list of the most valuable MLB franchises and -- surprise! -- the Cleveland Indians were very low on the list. The Tribe ranked 27th in the league with an estimated evaluation of $800 million, quite a ways under the median $1.3 billion worth of all 30 teams.
Forbes also estimated that the Tribe's 2015 revenue was around $220 million while the team's operation income (what they made after accounting for the cost of operating the ballpark for 81 games) was around $18 million.
The only teams with a lower value than the Indians were the Oakland Athletics ($725 million), the Miami Marlins ($675 million), and the Tampa Bay Rays ($650 million).
Also worth noting, the Indians were ranked 29th in average attendance last season (17,806 per game), second only to the Rays (15,403 per game). Their recent attendance records are not any better, even as the team has steadily improved over the past few seasons:
|Year||Total Attendance||Average Attendance||Rank|
A big part of the Indians' evaluation comes from the TV deal they signed in 2013 when FOX Sports purchased SportsTime Ohio, the local television broadcast station for the Indians. That deal was worth $400 million over 10 years, and it lead to the Indians spending big in the 2013 offseason when they signed Nick Swisher, Brett Myers, Michael Bourn, and Mark Reynolds to big deals.
Another big part of the $800 million evaluation comes from MLBAM, which is co-owned by all 30 teams and brings in revenue through MLB's online subscription service, MLB.tv, as well as several other avenues. MLBAM also recently purchased the rights to broadcast NHL games online.
Forbes writer Mike Ozanian thinks that BAM could be worth as much as "$200 million in value to each team" in the coming years. Hopefully, for the Indians, this means more free agents. Maybe not just no more Nick Swishers or Michael Bourns, okay?