The United States is a young nation that has cultivated a unique stable of sports. Franchises scaled up to become industrial and cultural behemoths. It embraced football, basketball, baseball, hockey and motorsports with enthusiasm. As a result, these past-times became a cornerstone of the nation’s identity.
While North America was intent on doing its own thing, the rest of the world fell in love with soccer. A global survey from Nielsen in 2017 estimated that four out of 10 people are soccer fans.
As a result, Major League Soccer (MLS), the US and Canada’s professional soccer league, is now playing catch-up. This involves building clubs, fanbases, attracting commercial partners and investing in the grassroots future of the game.
Average MLS game attendance was 21.875 in 2018, third behind the NFL and MLB. Expansion team Atlanta United FC, in its first season of existence, had the highest average attendance (52.409) of any U.S. sports team other than NFL teams.
The league began with 10 clubs and is now up to 23; it will have 26 by 2020 after it adds teams in Cincinnati, Miami, and Nashville. It’s easy to see why Adidas re-upped its MLS sponsorship for another six years at a price tag of $700 million.
In terms of salaries, since 2008 the MLS players have experienced a huge increasement of their wages. The average salary has grown from $112.000 per season to $375.000 per season.
Moreover, the average franchise value has also experienced an awesome metamorphosis. In 2008, the average value was of $37M per each club, but now this statistic has increased: each MLS franchise has an average value of $240M.
And what about the highest franchise value? 10 years ago, LA Galaxy was the US soccer club with more financial power ($100M value), but now there is another King in the city. Atlanta United is the new MLS godfather, with a franchise value of $330M!