Mighty Ducks and the mightier dollar

Gerard Wright in Denver finds sport belongs only to the super- rich

FORGET horse racing, where a thoroughbred with bloodlines of the deepest, richest purple will cost you a lazy million or so. These are the sports of kings: American Football (Dallas Cowboys, $413m), basketball (Chicago Bulls, $303m) and baseball (New York Yankees, $362m).

Or, as happens more and more often nowadays, the sports of companies: Time-Warner (Atlanta Braves, baseball, $299m, and Hawks basketball, $140m); Disney (Annaheim Angels, baseball, $157m, and Mighty Ducks, ice hockey, $109m); and News Corp (Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball, $236m, and 20 per cent of the New York Knicks, basketball, $296m).

The above figures come from an extensive survey by Forbes magazine, itself owned by a billionaire, Steve Forbes. By the Forbes estimate, the most expensive and wealthiest sports team in the United States and Canada are the Dallas Cowboys, the property of the Arkansas oilman Jerry Jones. "America's Team" were valued at $413m, with income in 1997 of $41.3m.

The operative word is "estimate". While an educated assessment could be made based on publicly available figures from income sources such as TV contracts and stadium revenues, and from costs such as player contracts, there was no way for this survey to take into account the process that drove the price of the New York Yankees into the stratosphere. The Yankees won the World Series in October for the second time in three years. Despite, or because of that, their owner, George Steinbrenner, has them on the market. Forbes' assessment of the champs was $362m. But in negotiations with Cablevision Systems, who also own the New York Knights, the price was put at anywhere from $500m to $1bn. Cablevision want the Yankees to tighten their stranglehold on cable television contracts in the New York area, the largest market in the United States. How do you put a price on such corporate desires?

At the other end of the food chain were the Carolina Hurricanes, formerly the Hartford Whalers, of the National Hockey League. The Hurricanes were priced at a relatively affordable $80m, according to Forbes.

In keeping with their new nickname, the Hurricanes are in transit. This is the second of two years in Greensboro before they move 200km to Raleigh and a new stadium worth $154m, which they will share with North Carolina State University.

The Carolinas are basketball and football country. Michael Jordan grew up in North Carolina. The Hurricanes are the only major professional franchise in the state, but so far they are a taste the locals have been slow to acquire. Now well into their second season, average attendance is 7,200 in the 11,000-seat Greensboro Stadium.

Dean Jordan, the team's chief operating officer, disputes the valuation of the Hurricanes, but acknowledges that some corporate, if not competitive, ambitions have to be adjusted to their present situation.

"It's a fact of life that we live with every day," he said of competing against richer teams in bigger, established markets. "It's the haves and the have nots. It's the same thing in every sport. Take a look at baseball. Your big-market clubs have the big local TV contracts and have the ability to do more things."

The Hurricanes are owned by Peter Karmanos, the chairman of the software company Compuware. For his team's first year in its new hockey- ignorant home, Karmanos decided his team should be a "have", offering Sergei Federov, the star of the Detroit Red Wings' back-to-back Stanley Cup winning teams, a $38m contract.

"Obviously, our owner is a very wealthy individual," Jordan said. "He can make a decision like that if he so chooses because he thought it was in the interest of the franchise. He had sound business reasons for making that decision. In many different ways, it increases interest in the team, increases corporate support. That would have paid for itself."

Federov, better known in other walks of life as the paramour of the tennis player and erstwhile sex kitten Anna Kournikova, stayed with the Red Wings ($184m) and laughed all the way to the bank anyway.

Jordan stayed up late the night before this interview to watch his team fall 2-1 to the Boston Bruins ($185m) and yawned between soliloquies.

The Hurricanes lead the South-east Division of the NHL's Easter Conference by five points.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
peopleJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Systems Analyst (Retail)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Up to 20% bonus: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: An...

Technical BA - Banking - Bristol - £400pd

£400 per hour: Orgtel: Technical Business Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £400pd...

Head of Digital Marketing,London

To £58k Contract 12 months: Charter Selection: Major household name charity se...

Lead Hand - QC

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Lead Hand - QCProgressive are recruiting...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice