Calling them “a legitimate Stanley Cup contender the past three seasons,” the business magazine Forbes ranked the Lightning as the 24th valuable franchise in the NHL, an increase from a year ago. And for the first time since 2009, the Lightning have an operating income that’s in the positive.
A year ago, the Lightning were No. 25 in the league and valued at $260 million. This year, they’re No. 24 with a value of $305 million — a 17% increase. The Lightning this year also have a $3 million operating income; a year ago it was -$1.4 million. In 2014, they were even deeper in the red at -$11.9 million in operating income.
The 30 teams in the NHL have an average value of $517 million, a 3% increase from a year ago.
The New York Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist’s hair are the most valuable franchise in the league for the second straight year, with a value of a staggering $1.25 billion. By contrast, the Carolina Hurricanes have the lowest value at $230 million, though that’s still a pretty penny to us common folk.
To be clear, these are Forbes’ calculations and estimations. In order to come up with the magical “value” of a team, they considered the following: the sport (shared league revenue), market, arena and the brand.
Forbes also noted the Lightning’s average attendance at Amalie Arena and also viewers on television in their report:
The team's average attendance of 19,092 was eighth highest in the NHL. The team's average rating (1.50) on FS Sun increased 24% last season, the fifth-sharpest gain in the league.
The attendance/TV viewership numbers seem especially encouraging — fans are not only tuning in more, but going to games more too.
If the Lightning win a second Stanley Cup, that’ll definitely increase the value of the team, but a championship is not a given of course. What’s more certain to boost the team’s value is Vinik’s commitment to the area, which Forbes noted in their ranking — the mixed-use neighborhood between the arena and Tampa’s business district that’ll cost $2 billion. The project includes converting one-way streets to two-ways, adding bike lanes, widening sidewalks and creating new infrastructure of the water, sewer and stormwater systems, according to Business Journal.
The Lightning’s Sunshine State neighbors, the Florida Panthers, are No. 29 with a value of $235 million.