Rams make biggest gains on Forbes' list

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- While their stadium situation in St. Louis remains unresolved, the value of the Rams franchise saw the largest uptick among NFL teams in Forbes magazine’s annual franchise valuations released Wednesday morning.

In the latest iteration of Forbes’ rankings, the Rams made the biggest one-year jump (in terms of percentage) in value among NFL franchises at a total of $875 million, up 12 percent from $780 million last year.

In addition to the increased value, the Rams also moved up in the overall NFL franchise rankings from where they were in 2012.

The Rams are No. 29 on the list, ahead of Buffalo, Jacksonville and Oakland, after finishing only ahead of Jacksonville last year.

This year, the Rams are one of only five teams to make double-digit gains in overall value, joining Dallas, New England, Houston and Atlanta. The Cowboys and Patriots improved 10 percent while the Texans and Falcons moved up 11 percent.

Dallas and New England sit atop the rankings valued at $2.3 billion and $1.8 billion, respectively.

Forbes bases their rankings on a combination of factors with each team’s stadium situation serving as a key factor. Forbes considers the Rams’ victory in January’s arbitration case with the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission as a positive in their valuation.

That decision leaves the Rams with three possible outcomes after the 2014 season: a year-to-year lease in their current home at the Edward Jones Dome, a new agreement for a new stadium in St. Louis or a relocation to another city with, presumably, a new stadium in place.

The new valuation essentially accounts for the upward mobility that a new stadium would generate in terms of revenue along with expected league-wide revenue increases.

Current owner Stan Kroenke purchased the controlling stake in the team in 2010 at a price of $750 million.

Despite the upswing in Forbes’ assessed value, the Rams still fall well short of the league average value of $1.17 billion. St. Louis is one of just nine teams valued at less than $1 billion, according to the rankings.

My take: While any sort of stadium agreement is probably still years away, the combination of increased league revenues (much of which is generated by lucrative television deals), the continued league use of a defined salary cap and the promise of an upgraded stadium with added revenue streams would seem to leave the door open for continued growth for the Rams in the near future. Should the product on the field continue to make strides as it did when the Rams went from two wins in 2011 to seven in 2012, those numbers should jump even further.