Cincinnati Bengals franchise value
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Cincinnati Bengals Franchise Value

The Cincinnati Bengals have made significant strides on the field in recent years, reaching the Super Bowl in 2022. However, Cincinnati Bengals franchise value still lags behind many other NFL teams and is the lowest in the league.

Cincinnati Bengals Team Value : $3.5 Billion 

  • Owners: Michael Brown
  • Championships: 0
  • Year Purchased: 1967
  • Price Paid: $7.5 million
  • Revenue: $498 Million 
  • Operating Income: $104 Million
  • Player Expenses: $237 Million
  • Gate Receipts: $57 Million
  • Revenue Per Fan: $47


Founding and Ownership History

The Bengals were founded in 1967 as an expansion team in the American Football League. The original ownership group included Paul Brown, the team’s namesake and legendary coach, with a 10% stake.

In 1967, the majority owner was Austin E. Knowlton with a 30% share. Other investors included John Sawyer (20%), The Cincinnati Enquirer (11%), and seven others (29% combined).

Paul Brown , founding owner of Bengals and co-founder/first coach of Cleveland Browns.

Paul Brown named the team the Bengals in honor of an earlier Bengals team that played from 1937 to 1941, most notably in the second and third American Football Leagues. While playing as an independent team in 1938, the original Bengals defeated the Chicago Bears and tied the Chicago Cardinals in exhibition games.

Paul Brown’s son, Mike Brown, joined the front office early on as his father’s top assistant. When Paul Brown passed away in 1991, Mike assumed ownership responsibilities.

Mike Brown’s Tenure as Owner

Mike Brown has remained the Bengals’ majority owner since taking over in 1991. His leadership style has often drawn criticism from fans and pundits.

One of Brown’s first major moves was firing popular coach Sam Wyche after the 1991 season, despite initially claiming Wyche resigned. Days later, Brown hired Dave Shula, making him one of the youngest head coaches in NFL history at the time.

Over the years, Brown has been reluctant to spend lavishly on free agents or make significant upgrades to team facilities. This frugal approach has sometimes been perceived as undermining the team’s on-field success.

How Much is the Bengals Franchise Worth?

According to Forbes’ NFL team valuations, the Cincinnati Bengals are currently worth an estimated $3.5 billion.

While a substantial sum, the Bengals’ franchise value ranks at the bottom of the 32-team NFL. Their value has increased in recent years, aided by the team’s improved performance and a new generation of star players like Joe Burrow.

However, the Bengals still trail franchises like the Dallas Cowboys ($8 billion), New England Patriots ($6.4 billion), and Los Angeles Rams ($6.2 billion) in overall worth.

Financial Performance

In the 2022 season, the Bengals generated an estimated $498 million in revenue and $104 million in operating income, according to Forbes data.

Their debt-to-value ratio stood at a relatively low 4%, indicating a financially stable franchise. However, player expenses accounted for $237 million of their budget, suggesting potential limitations in acquiring top-tier talent through free agency.

The Bengals also reported $57 million in gate receipts , reflecting a modest figure compared to some of the league’s larger-market teams. Many would attribute this struggles with the

More on Paycor Stadium

A significant factor in the Bengals’ franchise value is Paycor Stadium, previously known as Paul Brown Stadium. The 65,515-seat venue opened in 2000 and serves as the team’s home field.

Funded primarily by taxpayer money ($555 million out of the $562 million construction cost), the stadium has drawn criticism for the lopsided deal favoring the team over the public.

Nonetheless, Paycor Stadium provides a modern, state-of-the-art venue that enhances the game-day experience for fans. This, in turn, drives revenue through ticket sales, sponsorships, and other income streams.

As of April 2024, the stadium is due for hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrades over the next decade. Hamilton County Commissioner Alicia Reese has called on the NFL to contribute at least $100 million toward these renovations, rather than burdening local taxpayers.

Looking Ahead

Despite their relatively low franchise value compared to NFL peers, the Cincinnati Bengals appear well-positioned for future growth.

The team’s recent on-field success, driven by quarterback Joe Burrow and a talented young core, has reinvigorated the fanbase and raised the franchise’s profile nationally.

Additionally, potential upgrades to Paycor Stadium could further enhance the game-day experience and drive increased revenue streams.

While frugality has been a hallmark of Mike Brown’s ownership approach, the Bengals may need to consider strategic investments to capitalize on their momentum and continue closing the gap with the NFL’s most valuable franchises.

As the NFL’s business landscape evolves, the Cincinnati Bengals’ franchise value will be one to watch closely in the years ahead.