Photo Credit: Bruce Fedyck/USA TODAY Sports
The Winnipeg Jets are a small market team. Winnipeg may be ‘small’ relative to the size of some of the other metropolitan areas which act as host cities for the NHL 29 other member clubs, but it’s a loyal and ravenous hockey market, which allows the Jets to punch above their weight in terms of revenue and operating income.
All of which is to say that the Jets may rank 30th in hockey in terms of the size of the metro area in which their team is located, but they’re in the top two-thirds of the league in franchise value, according to Forbes’ 2015 NHL franchise valuations.
Here’s a graph that shows what’s occurred to the value of the Jets franchise since the club relocated from Atlanta five years ago. Needless to say, the NHL’s return to Winnipeg has been a financial boon for the league and for the Jets’ True North ownership group:
According to Forbes’ estimates, the value of the Jets franchise fell modestly this season over last. That’s true of six of seven Canadian franchises though and likely a reflection of a weakened Canadian dollar.
In total the Jets ranked 20th in the league by franchise value in 2015, according to Forbes’ findings, which is pretty damn good considering the size of the market. I don’t mean to harp o this point, but Winnipeg’s metropolitan area is a full 30 percent smaller than the next smallest hockey market (Buffalo, NY, and this data isn’t a good reflection of Buffalo’s market size since Buffalo has the benefit of being really easy to get to from Southern Ontario). That the franchise is valued in the top two-thirds of the NHL is nothing short of remarkable.
Now we should point out that, as our pal Petbugs once wrote, Forbes’ data is ‘almost certainly wrong’.
[Forbes’ numbers] are collected from publicly available documents and filings and some are estimates. Even then, there are many things that can get counted in a variety of ways when it comes to corporate finances, so comparing them is never going to be an exact science. This is even more true when we get to Operating Income, because any well-run company with a semi-competent CFO is going to try and use accounting methods to minimize the bottom line as much as possible in order to reduce the tax burden.
The findings are still phenomenally interesting though, and do approximate the Jets’ real financial situation, albeit imperfectly.
Our key takeaway should probably be that the Jets outperform their market size financially by an enormous extent. It helps that the club has been careful about managing their payroll expenses and other liabilities, but when the time comes, there’s no reason to doubt that True North will spend.
At the very least they absolutely should have the means to do so.