MLS expansion team fees to rise, could reach $200 million
MLS expansion club entry fees are set to rise, with them potentially reaching $200 million, according to a report by Bloomberg Sports.
The report cites an interview with MLS deputy commissioner and president Mark Abbott. MLS has announced its intent to expand to 28 teams, though no timetable has been set for that. A conflicting report from Sports Business Journal, also published Monday, states that fees will rise to $125 million, citing "people involved in the expansion discussions."
MLS later cleared up the issue by releasing the following statement from Abbott:
"There has been incredible interest from cities across the country in acquiring a Major League Soccer expansion club and we continue to have productive discussions with a number of prospective ownership groups. Following the Board of Governors meeting, the league is continuing to work on the timetable and the details, including pricing, for future expansion. Based on the increasing value of MLS clubs, expansion fees could be as high as $200 million.”
LAFC's $110 million expansion fee is the highest in league history, and it was paid with a single check, SI's Grant Wahl reported last December.
Four more teams are set to enter the league in the coming years, with Atlanta United FC slated to join in 2017 and LAFC on schedule for a 2018 arrival. It's widely expected that Minnesota will move from NASL to MLS next season to join Atlanta, while LAFC could be joined by David Beckham's franchise in Miami, should the lengthy process to lock down its stadium plan and construction come to fruition.
Four more teams will follow, with Sacramento, St. Louis and Detroit being touted to be among the leading candidates. Detroit announced in April an ownership group headed by Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is vying to bring an MLS franchise to the city. Gores and Gilbert have already revealed designs and plans for an MLS stadium. Abbott told Bloomberg that no timetable was set for future applications last week ahead of the league's All-Star Game vs. Arsenal.
MLS has grown substantially in size over the last decade-plus, with the league doubling its team total since 2004. New York City FC and Orlando City SC are the most recent additions, with the two beginning play in 2015.