MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Vikings are entering one of the most important weeks in the history of their 57 year NFL franchise, and here’s something you may not know: the team is worth billions.

It started in 1961 as The Little Team on the Prairie. It’s now one of the most valuable sports franchises in America.

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Owners Zygi and Mark Wilf paid $600 million for the Vikes in 2005 when The Purple ranked at the bottom of all 32 NFL teams. In 2017, Forbes estimates the Vikings’ Value at $2.4 billion.

The biggest reason? A new stadium.

Taxpayers subsidized $498 million of the $1.1 billion U.S. Bank Stadium. Forbes estimates the stadium added 38 percent to team value in 2016, and another 9 percent in 2017. The team’s operating income now at $105 million.

That $2.4 billion is the average value nowadays for an NFL team.

The Vikings ranked No. 18 in the NFL in 2017– right in the middle of 32 teams in the league.

The most valuable teams in the NFL:
1) Dallas Cowboys ($4.8 billion)
2) New England Patriots ($3.7 billion)
3) New York Giants ($3.3 billion)

The least valuable:
30) Bengals ($1.8 billion)
31) Lions ($1.7 billion)
32) Bills ($1.6 billion)

The total value of all of the NFL teams put together is about $78 billion. That’s as much as every team in Major League Baseball (MLB) and every team in the National Basketball Association (NBA) put together.

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Here are some of the sources we used for this Reality Check:

Forbes Magazine: Annual Estimate of NFL Team Values

Deep Dive: Forbes Breaks Down Vikings Revenue

NFL Teams Ranked By Value

Vikings Value 2005

The Statistics Portal NFL Stats & Facts

The Business of Baseball

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NBA Team Values