In a report released today, Forbes has claimed — once again — to know how each MLS team is valued, and they say Real Salt Lake is valued at a bottom-feeding $108 million. That claim doesn't pass the smell test.
First, let's just remind ourselves that this is an independent Forbes estimate, and when we say "Forbes estimate," do keep in mind that it's probably just the writer and not some team of analysts making that claim.
That $108 million is a stunning $3 million above league-worst Colorado Rapids at $105 million. But is it even close to accurate? Let's go through some things here.
First, let's ask what we're actually measuring. Teams in MLS are owned by MLS and its owner-investors as a single entity, and that includes the 'owner' of each team. In our case, that's Dell Loy Hansen.
Are we looking at the club's value based on revenue and earnings and all that, or are actual assets involved? And what's the club? Is it just Real Salt Lake in name as an entity in MLS, or is it anything underneath Dell Loy Hansen Real, LLC, through which Hansen operates the broader organization? And are assets involved at all, or is it valuation by other means?
Those questions weren't answered in the article. Instead, we're left with baseless "estimates" that rank teams by some arbitrary or seemingly random measures?
Let's talk about RSL's assets for a second. Let's assume that we're talking about DLH Real — I'm under the impression, and I haven't completely confirmed it, that he owns the stadium under that organization as well.
Rio Tinto Stadium was built at a cost of $110 million — 38 percent of that was publicly funded, for what it's worth — and is wholly owned by Dell Loy Hansen, owner of Real Salt Lake. While there's some business consideration called "depreciation" that I don't fully understand, it's hard to believe that with the improvements made to the facilities, the value has significantly decreased beneath the initial cost of building the stadium. (Remember those old, awful stairs by one of the tailgate lots?)
And let's not forget that Hansen also owns a slew of radio stations, but those are registered under Broadway Media, so that's perhaps not contributing.
At any rate, don't go assuming that Real Salt Lake is not terribly valuable in relation to other MLS teams, and don't go assuming that any of those numbers are right. There's no evidence, and it's definitely flawed.