Forbes magazine has released its annual valuation of National Football League teams and estimates the Chargers to be worth $826 million, which puts it 26th among the NFL’s 32 teams.

The magazine says the team’s worth jumped 13 percent since last year. Only three teams — the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals — saw a larger increase to their value.

Here’s what the magazine had to say about the team:

The Chargers delivered on the gridiron last season (the team finished with the best record in football) and have the most exciting running back in the league (MVP LaDainian Tomlinson set an NFL record with 31 touchdowns last season), but the city has not budged on its longstanding refusal to use taxpayer money to build the team a new stadium. Owner Alex Spanos is looking to take the team elsewhere because Qualcomm Stadium was built in 1967 (the city paid for a $78 million expansion in 1997) and is the league’s second oldest building (the Raiders McAfee Coliseum is the oldest). The antiquated facility puts the team in the bottom-third of the NFL in premium seat revenue.

Team owner Alex Spanos bought the team for $70 million in 1984, the magazine says.

The Chargers have argued that they need the revenue boost that could be provided by a new stadium in order to help pay signing bonuses for the players and bring in quality coaches.

The magazine puts the team right in the middle for operating income, ranking them 17 among the 32 teams. It pegs the Chargers’ annual operating income at $19 million. A number of the teams with top annual incomes have older stadiums, such as the Raiders, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills. Other teams with newer stadiums are still in the red in operating income, such as the Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks.

This year, the Dallas Cowboys supplanted the Washington Redskins as the most valuable team in the league, reaching an estimated value of $1.5 billion as a result of its plans to build a new $1 billion stadium. The team’s value jumped 28 percent.

Here’s what Forbes has to say about the NFL in general:

The NFL is the richest sports league in the world, with the average team worth some $957 million. And the Dallas Cowboys, the most valuable team in the NFL, are now the single most valuable sports franchise on the planet, worth $1.5 billion.

Pro football is also the most profitable sport on the planet (mean operating income in 2006 was $17.8 million on $204 million in revenue). Although its television ratings have slipped in the past decade, the NFL still beats the daylights out of other prime-time programming, including every other sport. Nearly three out of every four Americans watched an NFL game on television last season.

Check out the website, it’s got a nice breakdown of revenues and some lists.

Let me know if anything strikes you as interesting.


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