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Forbes: Bills Worth $870 million, but a Toronto Buyer Could Pay $1.2 B

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - Even as big-money investors try to pin down a sale price on the Buffalo Bills, one national publication has a concrete number - and suggests that a Toronto-based buyer could even make of a go of it with a purchase price as high as $1.2 billion.

Forbes Magazine's annual sports team valuation list released Thursday says that the Buffalo Bills are again ranked as one of the world's most valuable sports teams, even if they are one of the lowest net worth in the NFL.  With a team worth estimated by the magazine at $870 million, the Bills rank ahead of just two other NFL teams:  The Oakland Raiders and The Jacksonville Jaguars

30. Buffalo Bills

Team value: $870 mil.
Revenue 2012: $256 mil.
Operating income 2012: $12.6 mil.

"As part of the Bills' new lease agreement, the state and county agreed to pay $95 million toward a $130 million renovation of Ralph Wilson Stadium, the third-oldest stadium in the NFL."               



But even being toward the bottom of the NFL pack, places the team fairly high when the list expands to include teams worldwide. Forbes says the Bills are ranked 47th in the world

How accurate are those numbers? Earlier this week, Dan Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal said he believes the Bills rank about 20th in revenues in the NFL, meaning about 12 teams don't bring in as much money as Buffalo. "Many see (the Bills) as a financially bottom-tier team. That's not the case," Kaplan said. "They're probably middle of the third-quartile pack of the NFL."

"The National Football League continues to be the most lucrative sports league in the world.  The NFL’s 32 teams are worth, on average, $1.17 billion, 5% more than last year. The Cleveland Browns, a lousy team for years in a midsize market, sold for almost $1 billion last year, " Forbes writes in its annual report on what teams are worth.

In a blog piece to accompany the annual list, writer Mike Ozanian suggests that the larger Toronto or Los Angeles market could harvest enough sponsorship money to make a Bills price tag reach over a $1 billion in a bidding war.  

"The trust that has controlled the team since the death of Ralph Wilson is currently selling the NFL team and has a fiduciary responsibility to get maximum value. As we piece together the team’s income statement, revenue for 2013 looks to be around $250 million and for this upcoming season around $280-$290 million, thanks to the league’s richer broadcasting deals and upgrades to Ralph Wilson Stadium," Ozanian writes.

" A Toronto group would likely pay $1.2 billion for the Bills. How could Wilson’s trust turn that down?" he says

How far apart can valuations be from a team's actual cost? The Los Angeles Clippers aren't even ranked in Forbes' top 50 valuable franchises. The price tag for the sale of that team is $2 Billion.

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