Business magazine Forbes released their top 50 most valuable sports teams of 2016 on Wednesday. As we know, the NFL dominates almost every other global sports league in revenue. So, it should come as no surprise that 27 NFL franchises made their way onto the aforementioned list. However, not featured on that list is the Detroit Lions, who were valued at $1.44 billion last year. Also left off the list were the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Rams and Oakland Raiders.
It’s not exactly shocking the Lions rank so low in the NFL in value. Last year, they ranked 30th out of 32 franchises, according to Forbes. Detroit doesn’t really have a nationally marketable player on the franchise now that Calvin Johnson retired. Johnson was the only Lions' player listed in the NFLPA’s Top 50 Player Sales Year-End List for 2015. On NFLShop.com, more Ezekiel Elliott jerseys are currently being sold in Michigan than any other NFL player.
After struggling financially for nearly a decade, the franchise appeared to finally be back on the upswing. Last year, the Lions reported a $36.1 million operating income from the 2014 season, the first time the franchise wasn’t in the red since 2009. But the Lions are expected to be in worse shape now. A disastrous start to the 2015 campaign ended in a disappointing 7-9 record, so one has to believe the Lions' books won't look as impressive financially in 2016 as they did last year.
But where is this franchise headed now? The Lions have a new president in Rod Wood, who has already made some drastic changes to the team's identity, like adding cheerleaders, and upgrades to the experience at Ford Field by improving wi-fi at the stadium. He also increased ticket prices, the third year in a row for the franchise.
Prior to being hired to the Lions, Wood had served as the CEO and president of Ford Estates since 2007. In his introductory statement after being hired by the Lions, Wood pledged his commitment to improving the team: "I will do everything possible to provide our organization with all the means necessary to succeed on the football field and provide our fans and city with a championship organization both on and off the field," said Wood. Both financially and competitively, he has a long way to go.