How Do Sports Owners Really Make Money?

A look at how professional sports teams generate revenue, including TV contracts, ticket sales, and merchandise.

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Revenue from Events

Sports teams often generate revenue from hosting events such as games, concerts, and other special events. This can be a great way to bring in money, but it is often not the only source of revenue for a team.

Ticket Sales

Ticket sales are the main source of revenue for team owners. Teams generate income from tickets by charging people to attend their games. The more games a team wins, the more people will want to see them play, and the more ticket revenue they will generate. For example, the New York Yankees generated $561 million in ticket revenue in 2017, while the Miami Marlins generated just $53 million.

Ticket prices vary widely depending on the team and the stadium. The average price of an MLB ticket is $31.51, but prices can range from as low as $6 to as high as $500. The most expensive tickets are typically for seats close to the field or behind home plate. Teams also generate revenue from luxury suites, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars per game.


Concessions are one of the most important revenue streams for sports teams, and they’re also one of the most visible. Fans heading to a game are greeted by the smell of hot dogs and popcorn as they enter the stadium, and they’re presented with a wide variety of food options throughout the game. In addition to traditional items like hot dogs, nachos, and pretzels, many teams now offer higher-end fare such as sushi, lobster rolls, and gourmet burgers.

While some fans may balk at paying $10 for a beer or $5 for a bag of peanuts, the reality is that concessions generate a significant amount of revenue for team owners. In 2019, the average MLB team generated $37 million in concession revenue, while the average NFL team generated $41 million. That’s money that goes straight into the owner’s pocket, and it’s one of the biggest reasons why sports teams are so profitable.


Many revenue streams for sports owners come from outside the game itself. In fact, the games are often used as a loss leader to bring people into the arena so that they will spend money on concessions, parking, and, most importantly, team merchandise.

Team merchandise sales have become big business in recent years. The average NFL team generates $3 million dollars in merchandise revenue per year while the average MLB team generates $6.5 million dollars in merchandise revenue per year. The top-selling items at most stadiums are jerseys and other apparel bearing the team name and logo as well as caps and hats. But novelties such as mugs, key chains, and even team-branded toilet paper have become popular items among diehard fans.

Revenue from Media

The teams that generate the most revenue are usually the ones that are the most popular and have the largest fan base. These teams also tend to be the ones that win the most championships. The most popular teams generate revenue from many different sources including ticket sales, merchandise sales, and television and radio broadcasting rights.

Television Rights

While most sports fans are aware that their favorite teams generate revenue from ticket and merchandise sales, many are unaware of the important role that television rights play in team finances. In recent years, the sale of television rights has become an increasingly important source of revenue for professional sports teams, and owners have been signing increasingly lucrative deals with networks and cable providers.

The amount of money that a team can earn from television rights varies widely depending on the sport and the level of the competition. For example, in 2014, the average Major League Baseball team earned $52 million from television rights, while the average National Football League team earned $98 million. However, the top teams in each sport can earn significantly more than the average team. For instance, in 2014, the New York Yankees earned $149 million from television rights, while the Dallas Cowboys earned $190 million.

In addition to providing a significant source of revenue for sports teams, television rights deals also have a major impact on how games are broadcast. For example, in order to maximize viewership (and hence advertising revenue), networks typically prefer to broadcast games that feature popular teams with large fan bases. As a result, fans of less popular teams often find themselves unable to watch their favorite team’s games on television except for a few nationally televised games each season.

Radio Rights

Beyond the games themselves, one of the most significant sources of revenue for sports teams comes from radio rights. These are the fees that teams receive for allowing their games to be broadcast on the radio. In most cases, these rights are sold on a per-season basis, and the amount of money that a team can earn from them can vary wildly depending on the market size of the team and its location.

For example, the New York Yankees currently have a deal in place with WFAN that pays them $15 million per season for radio rights. In contrast, the Kansas City Royals receive just $600,000 per season from their radio partner, KCSP. Of course, these figures pale in comparison to what teams can make from television rights (more on that later). But it’s still a significant amount of money, and it’s an important part of how sports teams generate revenue.

Internet Rights

Although most sports leagues have contrcts with television networks to air their games, an increasing amount of revenue is coming from internet rights. In 2015, the NFL generated $1.2 billion from internet sources, including streaming services and, which was a 27 percent increase from the previous year. The NBA generate $900 million from internet sources in 2016, which was a 45 percent increase from the previous year. And MLB generates $620 million from internet sources, which was a 36 percent increase from the previous year.

owners are making more and more money from internet rights as fans increasingly turn to streaming services to watch games. Some sports leagues, like the NBA, have started to offer their own streaming services, which gives them even more control over how their product is distributed and opens up another revenue stream. It’s clear that internet rights are becoming an increasingly important part of sports owners’ bottom lines.

Revenue from Other Sources

In addition to the money that comes in from ticket sales, there are other sources of revenue for sports owners. For example, many teams have their own stadium and they also sell the naming rights to that stadium to a corporation. The corporation pays the team a certain amount of money every year to have their name on the stadium.

Luxury Boxes

While some people are content to watch the game from the comfort of their own home, others are willing to pay top dollar for the best seats in the house. That’s where luxury boxes come in.

Luxury boxes, also known as suites, are upscale seating areas that offer a premium experience for fans. They typically include features like comfortable chairs, couches, televisions, and private bathrooms. Some even come with a wet bar and catering service.

While suites can be found in all sorts of entertainment venues, they are most commonly associated with sports stadiums. In fact, many sports teams generate a significant portion of their revenue from luxury box sales.

One of the biggest benefits of owning a luxury box is that it can be used for corporate entertaining. Companies often use suites to entertain clients or reward employees. This is because suites offer a unique and memorable experience that helps businesses stand out from the competition.

If you’re thinking about purchasing a luxury box, it’s important to consider the long-term costs. suite prices generally increase on an annual basis, so you’ll need to factor this into your budget. Additionally, suite owners are typically responsible for their own maintenance and repairs.


Television advertising is the lifeblood of the modern sports franchise. A game that is broadcast on local or national television will almost always sell out, and the ad revenue that a team can generate from a single broadcast often dwarfs the amount of money they make from ticket sales. In 2010, for example, the NFL generated $3.1 billion in ad revenue from its network partners NBC, CBS, and Fox. This was more than double the amount of money it made from ticket sales ($1.3 billion).

Advertising revenue is not just limited to television either.Many sports teams have advertisement deals with local and national businesses that see their logos plastered on team jerseys, signage around stadiums, and on other team apparel. These deals can be extremely lucrative for team owners, with some teams generating tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars per year from sponsorships alone.


In addition to ticket sales, parking is another big source of revenue for sports teams. Depending on the location of the stadium or arena, parking can be very expensive. For example, fans attending a game at Yankee Stadium in New York City will have to pay $25 for parking. That may not seem like much, but it quickly adds up when you consider that the Yankees sell over 3 million tickets per year. That’s over $75 million in annual revenue from parking alone!

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