Major League Soccer Interactive Franchise Valuations

The average MLS team is worth $500 million—and the collective fair-market value of the league's 27 franchises is more than $14.8 billion. Sportico's interactive data visualization displays each franchise's value, revenue data for two seasons and more. To compare two teams, click on a logo and hover over another.

July 14, 2021 FEATURED STORY

The average MLS team is worth $550 million, according to data compiled by Sportico. Los Angeles FC ranks first at $860 million, while the Colorado Rapids rank last at $370 million. Below are the elements that compose the value of the league's 27 franchises, which are collectively worth $14.8 billion. The league will expand to 29 teams next season when Charlotte FC and St. Louis City SC start play.


Total Value: The sum of the current fair-market value of an MLS franchise combined with the value of team-related businesses and real estate holdings.

Team Value: MLS franchise valuation, derived from metrics by which soccer team transactions typically occur, including aggregating local and national revenues and factoring in a team-specific multiplier. It includes the value of each franchise's 3.7% interest in Soccer United Marketing—the marketing arm of Major League Soccer—which is acquired/dispossessed in tandem with the sale of a team. Charlotte and St. Louis will receive a stake in SUM next season.

Team-Related Businesses and Real Estate Holdings: The value of a franchise or franchise owner's equity in team-related businesses—that is, both those on the team's balance sheet and held in distinct corporate entities—as well as government-assessed real estate related to venue, practice facilities and adjacent developments. These assets represent a small percentage of MLS total values at this stage; the predominant value in most cases involves training complexes and new stadiums owned by teams, although a government organization often owns the land underneath the home venues.

We do include other assets in the total value, such as the 100-plus acres of land, owned or operated by the Philadelphia Union, along the waterfront in Chester, Pa., where the club plays. We also factor in ownership stakes of USL Championship teams, like DC United's Loudoun United, and National Women's Soccer League teams, highlighted by Portland Thorns FC, which share ownership with the Timbers.

Total Team Revenue: Cumulative amount of National Revenue and Local Revenue. For 2019, the most recent, full season, these figures are net of sales tax and gate revenue shared with other MLS clubs.

National Revenue: Each franchise's equal proportion of league-shared revenue, derived predominantly from MLS contracts with media and advertising partners. This consists of:

(i.) National media (broadcast deals with ESPN, Fox Sports, Univision, TSN and TVA Sports; sum-total of international and other broadcast agreements).

(ii.) League sponsorship (e.g., Adidas, Coca-Cola, Heineken, Target and Wells Fargo) and licensed merchandise royalties (through league subsidiary SUM).

(iii.) Distributions and dividends related to SUM beyond broadcast, sponsorship and licensing agreements.

(iv.) The 30% of each team's gate receipts that are shared equally with other MLS clubs.

Local Revenue: Revenue generated by each franchise independent of league distributions. This is comprised of dozens of revenue streams captured within three broad categories:

(i.) Stadium, which includes: ticket sales, parking, team's share of concessions and non-soccer ("third-party" or "marquee") events when venue is controlled by team.

(ii.) Sponsorship, which includes: naming rights, advertising, corporate partnerships and local merchandising (distinct from league licensing royalties in National Revenue).

(iii.) Media, which includes local TV and radio (e.g., for Atlanta United: Bally Sports South, Bally Sports Southeast, WZGC-FM and WAOS-AM).


Full Transparency

Sportico is committed to transparency, including provision of detailed methodology and sourcing information below. For any additional questions, please contact sports valuations reporter Kurt Badenhausen at, who led in the composition of this report. Sports finance reporter Brendan Coffey assisted.

Fair Market Franchise Valuations

To derive the fair-market value of the 27 current MLS franchises, Sportico calculated each team's revenue, relying on publicly available information and financial records—and interviews with those knowledgeable of team finances, including seven sports bankers and attorneys who actively work on MLS transactions. We traded candor for anonymity. This information was vetted by most team or parent company CEOs, presidents, chief financial officers and media relations personnel, as well as industry experts and investors.

Revenue totals were then subject to a team-specific multiplier, which, based on interviews with multiple sports bankers, remains the only reliable manner by which transactions occur, due to dramatic fluctuations of earnings before interest, taxes and amortization (EBITA), year-over-year, based on player spending and special expenses.

The team-specific multipliers were based on multiple factors, including: historical sales, market (size, saturation and interest by prospective owners), strength of brand, on-field performance (historical and recent), terms of facility lease, debt burden and additional obligations, as well as expected future team and league economics. The average multiple was 12. Last month, Houston Dynamo FC was sold for 13 times revenue, and the sale of Orlando City SC, which is expected to close in July, values the team at roughly 10 times revenue.

Revenue was calculated based on analyses of data from industry sources and reports, as well as interviews with experts and those with knowledge of team and league finances (detailed below); together, this comprised hundreds of inputs of confirmed and estimated information from dozens of sources.

Given the business disruption posted by the coronavirus pandemic, we calculated revenue for the 2019 season (the last to be uninterrupted) and applied the multiples to those figures as a baseline. Direct multiples of Sportico's calculated revenues for the 2020 season, therefore, were not used for this purpose.

For teams that did not exist in 2019—Inter Miami and Nashville—or moved into new stadiums in 2021—Columbus and Cincinnati—or both of those conditions in the case of Austin, we calculated what future annual revenue streams would look like. This is also the case with Chicago, which moved back to Soldier Field for the 2020 season. Sportico also adjusted for significant new sponsorships, like San Jose, which did not have a jersey sponsor in 2019 but signed a deal with Intermedia ahead of the 2020 campaign.

Team Review and Comments

Almost every MLS team or their parent company participated with Sportico by providing or validating at least partial information. Every franchise was provided the opportunity to review and comment on Sportico's tabulations of their financial results.

Government, Financial and Industry Sources

To assess team-owned real estate with consistency, Sportico included government property appraisals. Sources included: Adams County Assessor's Office (Colorado); Cobb County Board of Tax Assessors (Georgia); Collin County Tax Assessor-Collector's Office (Texas); Cook County Assessor's Office (Illinois); County of Morris Board of Taxation (New Jersey); County of Santa Clara, Office of the Assessor (California); Delaware County Board of Assessment (Pennsylvania); Franklin County Auditor's Office (Ohio); Hamilton County Auditor's Office (Ohio); Loudoun County Property Assessment and Tax (Virginia); Montreal property assessment roll; Orange County Property Appraiser's Office (Florida); Ramsey County Assessor's Office (Minnesota); Salt Lake County Assessor's Office (Utah); Town of Foxborough Assessor's Office (Massachusetts); Travis Central Appraisal District (Texas); Wyandotte County Appraiser's Office (Kansas).

Team and league financial information was derived from industry data sources, including the Association of Luxury Suite Directors (for club and luxury suite capacity, occupancy and pricing); Team Marketing Report (fan spending and sponsorship information); individual team and sponsor websites; each franchise's 2020 or 2021 media guide. Chris Bigelow, founder of foodservice consultancy The Bigelow Companies, provided expert guidance on per-caps and concession revenue at MLS venues.

Additional financial, corporate and structural information was derived from the MLS-MLSPA Collective Bargaining Agreement; and through analyses of historical team sales over the last five years, based on Sportico research.

Overall, Sportico spoke to more than 60 people to compile these valuations.