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Ravens rise to 8th most valuable NFL franchise

The team’s value may have slipped a little, but the Baltimore Ravens’ overall rank rose in 2009 to the 8th-most valuable NFL franchise according to Forbes.com.

Steve Bisciotti’s Ravens’ total worth fell 1 percent in the past year to $1.07 billion — about two-thirds of Bisciotti’s estimated net worth of $1.5 billion — but the team climbed three places in Forbes’ annual team valuation rankings.

The Dallas Cowboys came in at No. 1 with a $1.8 billion value, followed by the Ravens’ Beltway rival, the Washington Redskins, valued at $1.55 billion. (On a related note, the Ravens pounded the Skins in their preseason game, 23-3 … I guess money isn’t everything. )

Forbes estimates the Ravens had revenue of $255 million last season, including $61 million in gate receipts. The team’s operating income was about $44.9 million. It spent $138 million on players.

But what’s really interesting about this list is that the recession’s impact is written all over it. Aside from four teams (including the Cowboys), most teams in the NFL either decreased in value or didn’t change at all. Those that suffered the most are — not surprisingly — the Buffalo Bills (-12 percent), the St. Louis Rams (-15 percent) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (-16 percent).

So even though the Ravens fell 1 percent in value, it’s still pretty darn good compared to the rest of the league. Here’s Forbes’ example of why the Ravens are such a strong franchise:

“In the face of the recession last season 70 percent of NFL teams kept ticket prices flat or lowered them [for the 2009 season]. Not the Ravens though. Riding the good vibes of a 6-game improvement in the win column, a playoff appearance and successful first years by QB Joe Flacco and head coach John Harbaugh the Ravens bumped ticket prices 13 percent (only the Cowboys and Falcons had bigger increases according to Team Marketing Report).”

Forbes says fan loyalty is the big reason why the Ravens were able to do that during a recession and not skip a beat.