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Vancouver Canucks Deemed 7th Most Valuable NHL Franchise

Forbes Magazine’s annual sports team valuations say Canucks remain a top ten NHL franchise, despite falling revenue and attendance.

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Vancouver Canucks
Aquilini’s must be thankful for the development cash cow that is the land around Rogers Arena.
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The on-ice struggles of the Vancouver Canucks have reduced the value of the franchise, according to the 2016 Forbes Magazine SportsMoney Team Valuations. The Canucks are ranked 7th most valuable franchise in the NHL despite losing 6 percent from their 2015 value. Forbes pegs the team’s value at $700 million, down from $745 million last year and from the franchise’s peak value of $800 million in 2014.

While revenue is down, it’s not down as sharply as operating income. Forbes estimate of 2016 revenue — $146 million — is in line with estimates for 2011 and 2012. And while an estimated $29.6 million operating revenue for 2016 is down from a peak of $46.7 million in 2014 it’s also in line with the estimate for 2012 ($30.4) and higher than 2011 revenue ($23.9).

Not unexpectedly, the Canucks as a business are trending down from their peak years as Stanley Cup contenders. But as these measures are largely lagging indicators, the valuation will likely plunge in net year’s Forbes list if the Canucks again fall out of playoff contention early. Still, for now, the business seems reasonably robust and things like The Sportsbar, opening for the December 16th game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, will help the owners extract more revenue out of what is for now a waning enterprise. If attendance continues to drop the Aquilini’s will be forced to remember the bad old days of the late 1990s and the 1980s, when poor teams meant crowds of less than 10,000. Some assert this market would easily withstand a full tear it down rebuild. That may be right. I can see a way the team is able to market hope the way Toronto has this year. But I’m am skeptical. I believe Vancouver sports fans are pretty much front runners. I can’t see a series of 20 win seasons leading to support from the stands.

Relative to other professional sports teams, NHL valuations are very modest. The Vancouver Canucks valuation would place them in the middle teens of international soccer team valuations, between Paris Saint-Germain and Schalke 04. If the Canucks were a baseball team, they’d be between the 28th most valuable Oakland A’s and the 29th place Miami Marlins. NBA-wise, the Canucks would be as valuable as the 28th place Philadelphia 76ers, only $25 million more valuable than the Milwaukee Bucks. No NFL teams are valued below the 32nd place Buffalo Bills at $1.5 billion (thanks to relocation to Los Angeles, which brought up average NFL franchise values by nearly 20 percent from last year).

Forbes top ten most valuable NHL franchises are:

  1. New York Rangers, $1.25 billion
  2. Montreal Canadiens, $1.12 billion
  3. Toronto Maple Leafs, $1.1 billion
  4. Chicago Blackhawks, $925 million
  5. Boston Bruins, $800 million
  6. Philadelphia Flyers, $720 million
  7. Vancouver Canucks, $700 million
  8. Detroit Red Wings, $625 million
  9. Los Angeles Kings, $600 million
  10. Washington Capitals, $575 million

The NHL’s three least valuable franchises are not much of a surprise. Carolina Hurricanes are least valuable at $230 million, Florida Panthers are next at $235 million, and the Arizona Coyotes at $240 million are 28th.