If there was a world championship for money making, the city of Chicago would bankrupt itself throwing parades for our Chicago Bulls. The Bulls may not have put all the winning pieces together on the court, but the business side is crushing the competition.
In the NBA, the Bulls are #1 over the past decade. The second place team? The Lakers. Trailing by 100 million in profits.
Bare in mind, over this stretch the Bulls made the playoffs four times and got past the first round once, while never getting past the second round. The Lakers, in a bigger market, won four titles and made it to the NBA finals two other times over this stretch. Yet, they fell 100 million short of the profit levels the Bulls achieved. How is that even possible?
First thing you're thinking is Jordan carry-over. Not so fast, look at the three year average. The Bulls are averaging over 10 million a year more profit over that stretch then the Lakers, well past any Jordan carry-over was present. There is a Jordan effect in how profitable the Bulls stadium deal is, but that effect will last as long as the stadium, so it will continue into the indefinite future.
|Team||10 Year Profit||3 Year Profit||1 Year Profit|
Just comparing to NBA teams wouldn't put the Bulls in proper context though. Over the past decade, the Bulls have made more profits than any NHL team (duh), any MLB team (surprised?), and every NFL team save the Washington Redskins [odd that the Redskins are the most profitable NFL team, but since every NFL game sells out, it must have the best stadium deal/market combination].
That's right, the Chicago Bulls are the second most profitable franchise in US sports. They're doing that with total revenue probably ranked somewhere around 60-65th out of all those teams. They're doing that without even fielding an above average team over the decade. It's incredible. If there was a march madness of profits, the Bulls would be the bracket busting Cinderella team that didn't even belong in the tourney but somehow made it to the finals.
With 2010 free agency looming, the Bulls decided to restrict future spending in order to attempt to grab a superstar. That was the right move, and because of it, the Bulls limited spending. However, after this summer when the money is tied up and the Bulls have their star that excuse is off the table.
In the past, the Bulls haven't had a sense of urgency and have
refused to pay the tax. They also haven't had the talent to
appreciably improve their position for doing so, so that decision was at least somewhat understandable even if disappointing.
Starting summer of 2011 and perhaps trade deadline 2010, the Bulls need to be in spending mode. They'll have whatever core they're going to have, and it's time to add talent at all costs. It's time to give back to the fans who've lined the organizations pockets for the past decade. With a young all-star in Rose, a potential all-star coming in FA, the Bulls need to be in win now mode with a sense of urgency.
It will be time for Reinsdorf to finally prove his old quote of being willing to pay for a winner. The money to pay is there, let's hope he's willing to give it up.
[data gathered from Forbes Business of Basketball, Hockey, Baseball, and Football articles, the profits are rounded to the nearest
million, though the Bulls and Lakers are tied for most profits in the
past year, the Lakers slightly edge the Bulls for that year.]