According to Forbes, the Leafs are worth US$1.15 billion and have been the most valuable NHL team since 2005 despite making just one playoff appearance in that time.
Spanish-based soccer club Real Madrid is No. 1 at $3.44 billion. Major League Baseball's New York Yankees are the top North American team on the list, fourth at $2.5 billion.
Despite being in the process of selling for $2 billion, the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers did not make the list, which finished with 50th-ranked AC Milan at $856 million. Commissioner Adam Silver forced Donald Sterling to give up ownership of the team following racist remarks that surfaced this past spring.
In his annual state of the league address before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the Clippers sale represented a unique situation.
"That may be a function of the uniqueness of the L.A. market," Bettman said in June. "It may be a function of the uniqueness of the people who live in L.A. who wanted to own the franchise. It may be a function of the person who decided to buy it and his own particular circumstances.
"But if the Clippers are worth $2 billion, we have plenty of franchises that are worth that if not more."
Bettman cited one survey that said franchise values went up roughly 46 per cent last year.
"Sports franchises are becoming increasingly valuable because of their prominence as media content. It doesn't surprise me to see franchise values increase dramatically."
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