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Toronto Maple Leafs one of 50 most valuable teams in world

By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer

The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the world's most valuable teams per Forbes. (USATSI)
The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the world's most valuable teams per Forbes. (USATSI)

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The Toronto Maple Leafs organization truly is a juggernaut in the game of hockey. Despite the fact that the club is the owner of the longest Stanley Cup drought in the NHL today with the last title coming in 1967, they remain the league's most valuable franchise. According to Forbes.com, the Maple Leafs are the 26th most valuable team in all of sports at an estimated worth of $1.15 billion.

According to Forbes, it has only been since 2005 that Toronto became the league's most valuable team. The club has only continued to increase in worth since.

The Maple Leafs are now co-owned by Bell Canada and Rogers Communications, which acquired a majority stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment in 2012 for $1.32 billion. MLSE also includes the Toronto Raptors of the NBA, Toronto FC of MLS and the AHL's Toronto Marlies under its umbrella, but the most valuable property by far is the Maple Leafs.

According to Forbes, the top three most valuable teams in the world are Spanish soccer clubs Real Madrid and Barcelona, and English soccer club Manchester United. The most valuable American sports team is the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball, while 30 of the top 50 entries come from the National Football League led by the Dallas Cowboys.

The Maple Leafs are the NHL's only representative on the list, ahead of several NFL clubs including the Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks, among others, the NBA's Chicago Bulls, MLB's San Francisco Giants, and world famous soccer clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City.

Here's how Forbes figures its valuations and comprised its rankings:

Forbes has valued teams in the major sports leagues since 1998. Our team values are enterprise values (equity plus debt) based on current venue deals (unless a new venue is pending). The top 50 list is based on our published valuations for the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, Nascar and soccer over the past year, which were all before the proposed Clippers sale. The average team in the top 50 is worth $1.34 billion, up 8% over last year. There are 38 teams worth $1 billion versus 33 last year. There weren't any teams worth $2 billion three years ago; now there are six. Minimum entry for the top 50 is $856 million (AC Milan) compared to $586 million four years ago.

For being the most valuable team in the league, you would think the Maple Leafs would be putting a more consistently competitive product on the ice. They've made the playoffs just once in the last nine years. The NHL's salary cap obviously levels the playing field when it comes to attracting free agents and building sustainable rosters, which makes it more challenging for a valuable team like the Leafs for the product to mirror the money coming in.

That said, they should be making more of an effort to earn the money they're making by putting an annual contender on the ice. Easier said than done, but making that $1.15 billion go to work on the ice probably would do the hearts of the Toronto faithful some good.

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