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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Forbes ranks St. Louis Cardinals #11 in team value

The St. Louis Cardinals are the 11th-most valuable Major League Baseball team, according to Forbes Magazine’s annual assessment. After two years of basically flat value, the Cardinals are estimated to be worth $518 million, up 6.1 percent from 2010.

St. Louis Cardinals value (source: Forbes)

Year 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
$ million $271 $308 $314 $370 $429 $460 $484 $486 $488 $518
YTY increase 13.7% 1.9% 17.8% 15.9% 7.2% 5.2% 0.4% 0.4% 6.1%

Interestingly, the new Busch Stadium is only valued at $136 million despite its $357 million cost, with its $20 million per year debt service noted. (Note reader comments below that this is an equity statement, not a valuation.) Forbes estimates that the Cardinals took in $207 million in revenue, with operating income of $19.8 million, up from $13 million the prior year. Gate receipts were assumed to be $95 million.

Player expenses were pegged at $110 million by Forbes, basically flat year to year. Team season-opening player payrolls have yet to be determined, but the Cardinals are expected to be in that same 10-12 ranking range for the 2011 season.

Interestingly, despite being ranked in the top half, the Cardinals are worth slightly less than the average team. Overall, Forbes estimates the average MLB franchise is worth $523 million. That is an all-time high and up seven percent from last year.

The New York Yankees remain the most valuable team at $1.7 billion. At the other end of the totem pole at number 30 is the Pittsburgh Pirates at $304 million.

While some disagree with these valuations, with MLB’s books closed to the public, the yearly Forbes process provides the most exhaustive analysis generally available.

Given these estimates of team finances, how do you view the Cardinals' level of player payroll spending?

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