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Forbes: Patriots Near Top Of NFL's Financial Standings

If Forbes Magazine's NFL Team Valuations are correct, the Patriots are recession proof. New England came in at third overall in the annual rankings, behind only the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys, who were deemed most valuable.

The Patriots are one of the NFL's best run teams on- and off-the-field and have withstood the economic downturn much better than most teams. Sponsorship revenues were up in 2009 and again in 2010 and demand for tickets remains strong despite the second highest prices in the league.

Ah, ticket prices. By now, we're used to shelling out exorbitant amounts of money to see our teams play. Fenway Park is expensive, and so is Gillette Stadium. The average ticket at the Razor costs $118. (Only Dallas' is higher among NFL teams, at an outrageous $160.) Still, high prices aren't driving people away from Foxborough.

The Patriots have sold out every game at Gillette Stadium since it opened in 2002, but the team continues to pour money into it to keep up with the other teams opening new stadiums. The latest example is two massive video boards installed this summer with one measuring 41.5 feet high and 164 feet wide. The HD LED video boards will provide bigger, clearer pictures and enhance the overall fan experience.

There's also the mall, cinema, theater, hotel, CBS-themed restaurant, Bass Pro Shops ... the place is a cash cow. Then again, nine years ago, New England was still playing in the worst venue in pro sports, a "stadium" that cost $7 million to build and basically consisted of two lumps of concrete. Needless to say, the commercialization of the Patriots doesn't bother me so much.

A few more Pats tidbits from Forbes' breakdown: Bob Kraft bought the team in 1994 for $172 million. It's now worth $1.4 billion. Gillette Stadium, which opened in 2002, cost $325 million to build. That's peanuts compared to the new Meadowlands, which cost $1.6 billion. And finally, this astute point:

Now the Pats just need to lock up franchise quarterback Tom Brady who is entering the 2010 season in the final year of his contract.