|NFL commissioner Roger Goodell terms the Dodgers' sale 'an extraordinary price.' (Getty Images)|
PALM BEACH, Fla. -- They might not know a curve ball from a curl pattern, but NFL owners were understandably excited Wednesday by the news from Major League Baseball.
Owners hustled to waiting limousines at around noon, as the NFL concluded its annual meetings, but many paused to seek out reporters to confirm the news that the Los Angeles Dodgers have been sold for a shade over $2 billion to a group that includes former NBA star Magic Johnson and longtime baseball executive Stan Kasten.
In the corridors of the posh, old-money hotel where the meetings were convened, decorum typically reigns. But privately, NFL owners were clicking their heels at the news from the West Coast, several acknowledged.
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"I might even start looking at the [baseball] standings when the season starts," said one AFC owner. "This is pretty big for us."
How big? Real big.
In fact, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell termed the Dodgers' sale "an extraordinary price. ... I really don't have anything beyond that."
Left unsaid, but likely in the thoughts of NFL owners and league officials, is what the magnitude of the Dodgers' sale might eventually mean for a football franchise in the Los Angeles market. That said, several owners suggested over the past few days that a return to Los Angeles is not imminent. The trickle-down effect of the Dodgers' sale, however, will not be ignored by NFL owners.
The average football team, according to the Forbes Magazine valuations from four months ago, is worth $1.04 billion. One banker estimated that in identical market conditions, the Dallas Cowboys could sell for $7 billion, according to MSNBC.
Marc Ganis, president of the Chicago-based sports consulting firm, SportsCorp, said the Dodgers' sale figures to have a significant effect on NFL franchise values.
"It definitely raises the bar," Ganis said. "The NFL is the preeminent sports entity in the world. It's the best-run sports league. It has so much stability. [It's] the best branded. That all adds up. Literally."
A fixture at league meetings for years, and a close confidant of many NFL owners, Ganis has been integral in the development and implementation of two dozen sports facility projects. He counsels often with NFL owners and executives, is very familiar with the fraternity, and is regarded as a man with great knowledge of the sports landscape in general.
In its November 2011 valuations, Forbes cited the Cowboys as the NFL's most valuable franchise, at $1.85 billion. Nearly half of the 32 franchises, 15, were valued at $1 billion or more. The lowest-valued franchise, Jacksonville, was pegged at $725 million.
In late November, Shahid Khan purchased the Jaguars from the franchise's initial owner, Wayne Weaver, for a reported $760 million.
Said Ganis: "There are a lot of [NFL] owners smiling today, and rightly so."
Among the groups who had been bidding on the Dodgers was St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who failed in his attempt to add another franchise to his burgeoning sports portfolio. Because Los Angeles is designated by the NFL as a league market, Kroenke would have been subject to NFL cross-ownership rules, Goodell said, had he landed the Dodgers.