After some early years of struggle for Major League Soccer, it appears the league is gaining traction in North America. In its just-released valuation listings for professional sports leagues, Forbes valued the MLS franchises at 30% more than last year, surpassing the NBA (13%), NFL (11%), MLB (8%) and NHL (6%). The valuations themselves are for the team only, and do not include stadiums or real estate.
Not surprisingly, the Atlanta franchise had the top value at $500 million, followed by the LA Galaxy ($480 million), LAFC ($475 million), Seattle ($405 million) and Toronto ($395 million). Forbes attributes the valuation increase in the MLS franchises largely due to the growth in participation and popularity of the sports and believes that these factors will continue to drive franchise values for the foreseeable future. This is good news for the newest franchises that are about to enter MLS, since they will be paying a franchise fee of $250 million as their initial investment.
Not all the financial news is rosy, however. From a profit perspective, the franchises have a long way to go. In 2018, for example, of the 23 teams in Major League Soccer, just six earned a profit, with three of those teams barely in the black. And with the current contract with the players union set to expire in January 2020, the owners are believed to have a keen eye on the final negotiations from a financial perspective.
But with league contraction a thing of the past (Miami Fusion, Tampa Bay Mutiny, Chivas USA) as more money is poured into MLS, President Don Garber clearly has his league headed in the right direction,