The NFL is about halfway through its season with some teams, like the Dallas Cowboys, playing home games to tens of thousands of fans in their stadiums. The NHL, NBA and MLB, on the other hand, have declared their respective league champions and finally put the weird, wild and worrisome 2020 season behind them. No league, however, could escape one universal truth — revenues were light all around thanks to empty or mostly empty stands. Here’s a look at some individual teams that lost big money from the COVID-19 shutdown.
Nashville Predators: $20.64 Million
The National Hockey League paused its season in March when the action was coming down to the spring homestretch leading up to the playoffs. Although it had no precedent to follow, the NHL put on a clinic, pulling off a fanless round-robin, qualifying series, playoffs and finals that were fair, safe and exciting — but some teams still lost lots of cash. The NHL’s No. 2 biggest loser was the Nashville Predators, which lost more than $20 million, according to Statista, from revenues never realized in its otherwise perpetually filled stadium.
Toronto Maple Leafs: $42.24 Million
One of the Original Six, the Maple Leafs lost the most of any NHL team by far, according to Statista. More than 28% of Toronto’s revenue comes from its stadium, according to Forbes, to the tune of about $423 million the year before. Despite the Canadian dollar being significantly weaker than the U.S. dollar, the Leafs are among the league’s most profitable teams thanks to top-five showings in premium seating revenue, gate receipts and attendance.
New York Knicks: $45 Million
The Knicks missed eight home games due to the COVID-19 NBA shutdown. According to an analysis from The Athletic, those games make the Knicks one of the biggest losers in the NBA at the bank — which neatly matches their performance on the court. In fact, only one team’s finances suffered more. Despite being almost impossibly bad, seemingly all the time, the Knicks are the most valuable team in basketball. The reason is right there in the name — their home is in a newly renovated Madison Square Garden in North America’s largest and richest media market.
Los Angeles Lakers: $52.7 Million
Only one NBA team lost more money than the Knicks due to empty stands in this bizarre but exciting season — and it happens to be the same team that won the NBA Championship. LeBron and company pulled off a win for the ages against Miami in the finals, but the team’s cash registers came up nearly $53 million short. Curiously enough, the Lakers rank No. 2 on the list of the NBA’s most valuable teams behind only the lowly Knicks.
New York Giants: $109.9 Million
Unlike baseball, which was played in empty stadiums league-wide for a shortened season, losses in the NFL are much harder to calculate. That’s because some teams are playing to empty stadiums, some are welcoming scores of fans, while others are allowing only limited and reduced crowds to enter their stadiums. Based on an analysis that included those variables, Team Marketing Report predicts that the Giants will forfeit nine figures in unrealized gameday stadium revenue. The Giants are the No. 3 most valuable franchise in the league, and despite representing less than 17% of that value, stadium revenues totaled a whopping $722 million last season.
Green Bay Packers: $112 Million
The Packers will lose more than all but two NFL teams due to the shutdown, according to the Team Marketing Report analysis. But even so, they might be positioned better than most teams to absorb the hit. That, according to Forbes, is because, despite a team valuation that puts it in the middle of the NFL pack, Green Bay has long been known for being a financially conservative team. Lambeau Field is responsible for only a little more than 10% of the team’s value and Green Bay’s corporate reserve fund alone is worth more than $400 million.
San Francisco 49ers: $112.4 Million
The San Francisco 49ers stand to lose $112.4 million on the year due to lost gameday stadium revenue. Prior to the pandemic, San Francisco announced plans to introduce a revolutionary new stadium pricing framework. Ticket prices would go up by $20 each, but refills on soft drinks and food staples like chicken fingers and hot dogs would be free. The No. 5 most valuable team in football, San Francisco relies on its stadium for $553 million in total — less than 15% of its overall team value.
Washington Football Team: $124.1 Million
The Washington Football Team will lose the most out of any other pro football franchise due to lost stadium revenue. Starting with its Nov. 8 game against the New York Giants, Washington is now allowing some fans in its stands, but that might be too little too late. According to Forbes, Washington went from being one of the NFL’s biggest draws to a team that was struggling to fill seats even in pre-pandemic times. As of the end of last season, stadium dollars accounted for only a little more than 14% of the team’s total value.
Boston Red Sox: $337.69 Million
No major North American sport lost more to the coronavirus shutdown than baseball, and the MLB’s most valuable teams naturally lost the most. The Red Sox, for instance, are the league’s No. 3 most valuable team and claim the No. 4 spot on the list of MLB franchises that lost the most stadium revenue this season. The Sox rely on their stadium for nearly $1 in $5 of the team’s combined value — gameday in-person fan revenues totaled $637 million in 2019.
Compare: The Richest MLB Team Owners
Chicago Cubs: $354.19 Million
The Cubs rank right behind the Red Sox as the No. 4 most valuable team in baseball. Big spenders — Chicago was 1 of 3 teams in 2019 to pass the $206 million luxury tax threshold — the Cubs lean heavily on Wrigley Field to pay the bills. Responsible for nearly 20% of their total team value, Wrigley’s combined gameday stadium revenue for 2019 totaled $622 million. That’s over $100 million more than the Chicago Cubs brand itself brings in for the team.
Los Angeles Dodgers: $358.43 Million
Just like the NBA, baseball’s biggest winner on the field was one of the biggest losers in terms of forfeited stadium revenue. Los Angeles walked away from this bizarre season with a World Series win for the history books, but the season cost the franchise more than $358 million in unrealized stadium dollars. Coming off a single-season franchise attendance record in 2019, the Dodgers remain the No. 2 most valuable team in baseball behind only the mighty New York Yankees.
New York Yankees: $437.87 Million
Like all MLB clubs, the Yankees played 30 home games this year on a 60-game season instead of 81 home games out of 162 total — without the benefit of seats being filled with paying customers. Across the league, losses from fanless stands totaled $5 billion, but no franchise suffered more than the Yankees, whose gameday stadium losses approached a half-billion dollars, according to Team Marketing Report. The most valuable team in baseball year after year, the Yankees are the only MLB club whose stadium brings in more than $1 billion per year.
More From GOBankingRates