By Robert Stitt
Since one is a baseball team, two are football teams, and one is basketball team, it can’t be anything league related. You might be thinking about championships. After all, the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys are Superbowl legends and the Yankees have won more World Series championships than any other baseball team in history. But the Nicks, despite being one of the original teams in American professional basketball, have only won two titles, the last in 1973. Given the teams’ pedigrees, the answer will likely surprise you. It’s net worth.
The New York Knickerbockers, better known as just the Knicks or Nicks, have just been named the 4th most valuable team in American sports by Forbes. Dallas holds the top spot at $4 billion, New England is second at $3.2 billion, followed by the Yankees at $3.2 billion and now the Nicks have joined the club with a net worth of over $3 billion. The Los Angeles Laker’s previously held the number four slot, but they are only worth a $2.7 billion.
How did the Nicks, a perennial underdog, become the most valuable team in the NBA? It helps that they play in New York, a sports mecca with a tremendously loyal fan base. Couple that with their uber-famous home court, the newly renovated Madison Square Garden, and you have a tremendous financial foundation. After all, the Garden sports the highest suite prices in the league, and the team has fans who are wealthy enough to pay for them.
Then again, the man who is the executive chairman of the Madison Square Garden Company is also the owner of the Nicks, James Dolan. Granted, Dolan isn’t just the owner of the Nicks. The son of Cablevision founder, billionaire Charles Dolan, James Dolan also owns the New York Rangers (NHL), the New York Liberty (WNBA), and the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL).
According to Forbes, in 1994, Dolan bought The Knicks, Rangers, Madison Square Garden, and the MSG Network for $1.1 billion. With the Nicks alone with over $3 billion, you could say his investment has paid off nicely.
For comparison’s sake, the New Orleans Pelicans is the least valuable team in the NBA with a value of $650 million. Then again, Tom Benson, the owner, picked it up for a steal: $338 million in 2012.