The Bears have been named the 7th most valuable NFL franchise, according to Forbes magazine.
The franchise, which has been owned by the Halas-McCaskey family since was it was founded in 1920 by George Halas, has a value of $2.85 billion, which is up six percent from 2016 when it was valued at $2.7 billion.
The Dallas Cowboys topped the list with a value of $4.8 billion followed by Patriots ($3.7 billion), Giants ($3.3 billion), Redskins ($3.1 billion), 49ers ($3.05 billion) and the Rams ($3 billion).
According to Forbes, the Bears — located in the biggest NFL market with only one team — have consistently “underperformed on the revenue side.”
One factor working against maximizing the team’s revenues is Soldier Field. With the third-smallest capacity and owned by the Chicago Park District, the team has been limited by the seating capacity and are unable to reap other non-football benefits if they owned their own stadium. The Bears pay $5.7 million a year in rent to the city as part of a lease that runs through 2033. Former Mayor Richard Daley prevented the team from selling naming rights to the stadium.
The team is also constrained by the McCaskey family’s limited finances. Unlike other team, which have owners with money from other businesses, the McCaskey’s net worth primarily comes from the Bears.
“We’re not one of those teams where an owner can infuse their own capital from their other personal business ventures,” team president Ted Phillips told Forbes in 2010. “This is the McCaskey’s number one asset. Jerry Jones can leverage. We don’t have that ability.”
The Bears have discussed various ways to increase team revenues.
In 2016, team chairman George McCaskey told the Sun-Times he wanted to “tastefully” increase stadium advertising and opened the door to using some of the money to build “bunker suites” that allow fans to watch games at field level.