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Steelers now worth more than $1 billion, Forbes says

The Steelers are a billion-dollar business.

In its annual study of the value of the NFL's 32 franchises, Forbes on Wednesday pegged the Steelers' worth at $1.01 billion, 18th highest in the league. A year ago, the team's value was $928 million.

Four of the Rooney brothers, each of whom owns a 16 percent share of the team, are looking to sell. A fifth brother, Chairman Dan Rooney, is trying to buy enough shares to keep the team in the family.

The franchise was founded by their father, Art Rooney Sr.

Dan Rooney offered his four brothers -- Art Jr., Tim, Pat and John -- $700 million for their shares.

The four brothers had the franchise appraised last year by Goldman Sachs & Co. of New York, which estimated the team was worth between $800 million and $1.2 billion.

Team officials and representatives of Goldman Sachs declined to comment on the Forbes study.

The value of the franchise has skyrocketed in the past decade. Public records show that the Steelers were valued at $173 million in 1997. In 2003 -- two years after Heinz Field opened, the franchise's value increased to $608 million.

With a value of $1.6 billion, the Dallas Cowboys are the No. 1 franchise in the NFL, according to Forbes. Second on the list is the Washington Redskins at $1.5 billion, followed by the New England Patriots at $1.3 billion.

The study pegs the Steelers' 2008 revenues at $216 million and their operating income at $14.4 million. The value of the franchise rose 9 percent in the past year.

Scott Brown can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com . Joe Starkey can be reached at jstarkey@tribweb.com or 412-320-7810.

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