Cowboys are No. 1 in franchise value, too

PRO FOOTBALL

May 09, 1993|By VITO STELLINO

The magazine Financial World has come up with a gimmick that's almost as good as the Forbes list of the nation's richest people.

The Forbes list is mostly just a bunch of educated guesses. Rich people don't exactly keep their money in a savings account at the bank on the corner.

There are even some estimates that are way off. The magazine had Donald Trump listed as a millionaire when he was virtually broke. But the list gets a lot of publicity every year, and that's really the point of doing it.

The Financial World gimmick is to list the value of sports franchises. Again, nobody really knows what they're worth. Most of them aren't for sale, and the worth of the ones that are depend on what somebody is willing to pay.

Anyway, for what it's worth, the magazine says that the Dallas Cowboys are the most valuable franchise in sports at $165 million.

The figure is a tribute to the marketing prowess of owner Jerry Jones. When he bought the club and the Texas Stadium lease for $140 million in 1989, the consensus was that he overpaid. Former owner Bum Bright had a tough time finding a buyer.

It helps that Jones now has a Super Bowl club, but he's quite a salesman. He has put a luxury box into virtually every nook and cranny at Texas Stadium and has sold them. This year, he's even tearing out the press box -- he's relocating the writers up top near the roof -- for more luxury boxes.

"Those are Emmitt suites," said wide receiver Michael Irvin, referring to Cowboys star running back Emmitt Smith. "Jerry's going to have to give all the money from those suites to Emmitt."

Don't count on it. The negotiations with Smith are likely to be long and tough. Jones specializes in keeping his payroll low.

Meanwhile, Jones was proud of the magazine's designation, even if it is somewhat meaningless.

"I personally felt they were the most valuable sports franchise when I bought them," he said.

It's just a coincidence that the magazine came out as the NFL prepares to set the franchise fee for the expansion teams at a meeting in New York on Tuesday, although the fee won't be officially ratified by all the owners until they have their annual May meeting in two weeks.

Look for the owners to top that $168 million with a price in the $175 million range. The number will look bigger than it really is because because the payments are likely to be spread over several years. The NFL likes a big number because it makes all its franchises seem more valuable.

From Baltimore's viewpoint, the higher the price, the better. Baltimore's strength is its financial package at the new stadium, so a high price is viable in Baltimore.

The selling game

Herbert J. Belgrad, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, is eager to start the luxury-box and club-seat ticket campaign now that the league has set up the parameters with a 50 percent payment required for each box and club seat this fall.

Although Belgrad wasn't happy about being forced to conduct the campaign, he said, "It's no different than the exhibition game. We didn't think it was necessary, but we did it better than any other expansion city."

Belgrad thinks the Camden Yards experience will make it easier to sell luxury boxes in the football stadium. There's now a waiting list at Camden Yards because the boxes are so popular. He figures companies won't want to risk getting shut out.

What about the guys living from paycheck to paycheck who don't think of themselves as club-seat type of people? They might think of putting together a group of friends to buy two and then share the seats.

The demand for regular-season tickets is likely to be so great that there will have to be a lottery to parcel them out and nobody will be guaranteed of getting them. Club seats will be a way to guarantee getting seats. It's also likely that the club seat buyers will be given the right to puchase extra season tickets.

It's likely the club seats will average from about $1,200 to $1,500 for the 50-yard line to around $1,000 on the 20. If two seats cost $2,400, 10 friends can buy them for $240 a year each or $120 each for the initial payment.

A change in style

At Richie Petitbon's first minicamp as Washington Redskins coach, it was easy to see that his style is different from Joe Gibbs'.

When Art Monk was a no-show Friday and Petitbon was asked if would speak to him, he said, "What would I speak to him about?"

When asked if Monk had ever missed a minicamp, he said, "I know it's the first one he missed since I became head coach."

RF It was similar to his reaction when Wilber Marshall threatened to

sit out the season last week.

"It doesn't do any good to talk to Wilber," he said.

Gibbs was the type who always wanted to talk to his players when there was a problem.

Petitbon is more of a no-nonsense, old-school type. He'll coach the players who are there.

It's a sign that things will be different in Washington. The bottoline, of course, is whether Petitbon can win the way Gibbs did.

Dan who?

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