Major League Soccer (MLS) has come a long way since its inception in 1996. With 29 teams now in the league, including the debut of St. Louis City SC this season, it’s clear that soccer is making massive strides in the United States.
The financial growth of MLS is nothing short of impressive. Since 2019, the average team valuation has skyrocketed by 85%, from $313 million to a whopping $579 million. And brace yourselves for the next expansion team (likely Las Vegas or San Diego), with an expected price tag of $500 million—a significant leap from the previous record of $325 million set by billionaire David Tepper when he founded Charlotte FC in 2019.
Here are the top 10 most valuable MLS franchises in 2023:
Billionaires have long recognized the potential of MLS, with prominent figures like Robert Kraft and Philip Anschutz among the original owners. The league’s allure has only grown stronger, attracting the likes of David Tepper, Joe Mansueto, and Ryan Smith, who have further propelled team values.
But what’s truly game-changing is MLS’ groundbreaking media rights deal with Apple, uniting local and national broadcast rights under one umbrella. This deal guarantees MLS at least $2.5 billion over 10 years, with potential for even more based on subscriptions. It’s a substantial payday, though slightly below initial expectations, especially considering MLS’ investment in production costs. While the league has secured additional TV deals with Fox, Univision, TSN, and RDS, it’s worth noting that no major North American sports league has fully embraced a streaming-first strategy.