2017 MLS Ambition Rankings: Who strives for greatness the most?

2:05 | Planet Futbol
MLS: Why Toronto FC is favorite to win this year
Friday March 3rd, 2017

The 2017 MLS season is here, and with 22 teams (including expansion entrants Atlanta and Minnesota) the league is now bigger than most other significant top flights in the world. So it’s a perfect time to do my annual MLS Ambition Rankings, one man’s subjective opinion on which teams have ambition (and which don’t) in a salary-capped league.

You can measure that ambition in a lot of ways. Do you spend money on Designated Players? Have you built your own soccer stadium—and how nice is it? Does your club have an identity? How much has it invested in youth development, a training facility and technical staff?

As I did last year, I sought to back up my rankings with more reporting by sending a questionnaire to all 22 MLS teams (plus 2018 expansion team LAFC) asking them about their investments and ambitions for their clubs. The responses are a treasure trove of granular information that MLS hardcores should love.

SI's MLS SEASON PREVIEW: Predictions | Every team's uniforms | The expansion duo | The new DP | Power Rankings | Top 2017 storylines | Newcomers

Without further ado, here are the 2017 MLS Ambition Rankings (click each team name for more in-depth information on its operations):

1
Last season: 2

The highest-placed teams in our Ambition Rankings invest heavily across the board in star players, facilities and youth development, and no team in MLS does that quite like TFC. Toronto will devote more than $18 million this season to Designated Players Sebastian Giovinco, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore. (The next closest DP spend, by NYCFC, is around $5 million less.) Toronto spent $108 million on a massive stadium refurbishment in 2015-16, and it has a nice $19 million training facility, along with an extensive investment in its youth academy. All that’s missing is an MLS Cup trophy, which might be on its way in 2017.

2
Last season: N/A

The expansion club sold more than 30,000 season tickets—second in the league behind Seattle’s reported 35,000—before their first game. Think about that. Atlanta United is not messing around. The club hired former Barcelona manager Tata Martino, the second-highest paid coach in MLS (behind NYCFC’s Patrick Vieira), and it signed three DPs under the age of 24 (Miguel Almirón, Josef Martínez and Héctor Villalba). The $60 million training facility that opens soon is the most expensive in MLS. And while we wish Mercedez-Benz Stadium, opening this summer, didn’t have artificial turf or an NFL team, it’s still a $1.5 billion (!) urban stadium that’s designed with soccer configurations in mind. The youth academy is also being done the right way, with a launch across five age groups more than a year before the club’s first MLS game.

3
Last season: 3

A club that won its first MLS Cup title in 2016 and averaged 42,636 fans at home—second in USA/Mexico, 29th in the world and ahead of every team in Italy—has every right to aspire to be one of the top clubs on the planet. Seattle’s midseason signing of DP Nicolás Lodeiro was the biggest key to the title run, and how many other MLS teams would have had the cojones to do that? Seattle is investing heavily in its USL team and youth set-up, and separating from the Seahawks operations and going on its own in 2014 was the right thing to do for the future. As for the stadium, it’s a tremendous urban location and a terrific atmosphere, but it’s still an artificial turf field in an NFL stadium. In the end, ambition is about more than just spending, and the 2015 hiring of GM Garth Lagerwey—the Theo Epstein of American soccer—has already been a giant positive.

4
Last season: 1

No, the sky is not falling in SoCal. Far from it, in fact. But there has been a bit of a retrenchment by the Galaxy in the past year. Salary spending on DPs has gone from $13.7 million in 2016 to $8.1 million in ’17, though the club does plan to add a DP this summer. Even before Bruce Arena left to coach the U.S. team, Dave Sarachan (the highest-paid assistant in MLS) had announced he was leaving. What some would call “cost-cutting” is being viewed as a move toward “strategic spending” by the Galaxy. And the team does still spend: $4 million in the past year on youth development, as well as another investment in newly-announced stadium renovations. Perhaps LA is gathering its breath for the challenge next year from LAFC, which says it has a whopping $350 million in private funding going toward its stadium and surroundings in South Los Angeles.

5
Last season: 5

The most intense fan experience in MLS happens for a reason: The Timbers Army culture is insane in the best way, and Portland caps its season tickets at 15,800 and has a waitlist of more than 13,000 for a team that has sold out all 107 of its MLS home games. The Timbers have increased their youth development investment to $3 million a year, and only five teams in the league (Toronto, NYCFC, Atlanta, Seattle and LA) have spent more on players, including transfer fees, in the past year than Portland. A $10 million training facility and more than $60 million in stadium improvements are already done, and now there’s a proposal to spend $50 million more to expand the east side of Providence Park by 4,000 seats.

6
Last season: 4

You’re basically splitting hairs between Kansas City, Portland and Orlando, but SKC remains unique for being an original MLS franchise that totally turned itself around with new ownership and a new stadium. We’re not fans of public funding for sports facilities, but Kansas City’s deal-making has been remarkable when it comes to building its $200 million stadium and the $80 million National Training and Coaching Development Center, opening this year, which combines public funding and money from the club and U.S. Soccer. Sellouts in 87 straight MLS games show how big SKC has become in town, and a strategy of youth investment and spending wisely on players has brought dividends to one of the most innovative ownership groups in MLS.

7
Last season: 6

It isn’t just that Orlando City’s gorgeous new stadium cost $155 million, but also that it was constructed entirely from private funding. Meanwhile, the Lions are building their own training facility in Lake Nona, have sold 18,000 season tickets (with a waitlist) and are No. 7 in the league when it comes to player spending. Most of that spending is on one player, Kaká, and with the Brazilian superstar saying he’s done in Orlando after this year, it remains to be seen whether ownership will spend on players the same way post-Kaká. Either way, OCSC deserves a ton of credit for building a thriving fanbase in such a short time as it enters its third season in MLS.

8
Last season: 7

NYCFC has the highest-paid coach in the league (Vieira), which is always one way to measure ambition. So, too, is spending on players, and the club is No. 2 in the league behind Toronto on that front (see: DPs David Villa, Andrea Pirlo, Maxi Moralez). A new training facility will also require ownership to cut a big check, and NYCFC has done a terrific job making itself relevant in the crowded Gotham sports landscape in a way that the New York Red Bulls never quite have. All that said, NYCFC’s complete lack of progress on building its own stadium is becoming an embarrassment. Crowds have been good in Yankee Stadium, but any soccer person will tell you that the narrow field produces a bastardized version of the game.

9
Last season: 10

FCD is a club that has been ambitious about its identity—a club that will build from within, give its youngsters chances to play and surround them with a talented group of veterans and sound coaching. And when you do as well as Dallas has done in fulfilling that strategy, you’re willing to allow for a team not spending as much money as others in the league. Yes, Dallas has spent more on DPs this season than in any previous one, but the number to follow here is 17. As in, FCD has signed 17 homegrown players, with 13 of them having played for the first team (and three more who haven’t that were signed this past offseason). Óscar Pareja is the ideal coach for this system, a manager who plays his kids and reaps the benefits unlike any other coach in the league. One can only hope that this club will someday start filling the stadium as regularly as Portland, Kansas City and Orlando.

10
Last season: 9

RBNY has the nicest privately-funded stadium in MLS, and its training facility is a beauty as well. Its youth academy has been among the best in the league, producing players like Matt Miazga, Sean Davis and Tyler Adams. Results on the field under coach Jesse Marsch have been very good the last two years, with the team posting the best record in the East both seasons (despite failing to reach the MLS Cup final). All things considered, though, there still isn’t much buzz about RBNY in New York City, partly created by the decision to stop signing big-name DPs like Thierry Henry. What’s more, strange personnel decisions—like parting ways with sporting director Ali Curtis recently—have combined with the impression that Red Bull Austria doesn’t pay much attention these days to create a vibe of uncertainty around this team.

11
Last season: 8

What’s good in Vancouver? Youth development, for sure. The Whitecaps have had a fully-funded, full-time youth program since 2007, and they like to proclaim that commissioner Don Garber says they invest more in youth development than any other team in the league. All told, Vancouver has signed 13 homegrown players since joining MLS in 2011, and the current roster has five of them (including promising 16-year-old Alphonso Davies). BC Place enjoys a solid downtown location but unfortunately has artificial turf. DP investment isn’t what it was a few years ago, but the return of Fredy Montero to MLS (on loan from Tianjin Teda) is a positive.

12
Last season: 17

Confession: I ranked RSL too low last year. It’s a tough call. Based on people I talk to, this is one of the cheapest teams in the league on a day-to-day basis. And yet the infrastructure investment is truly impressive, headed by a new $50 million training facility that’s set to open later this year and a nine-year-old, $110 million stadium (built with a public/private partnership) that has served the club well. The youth academy has always been strong, and Designated Player spending has also increased this season, led by the signing (and transfer fee) of playmaker Albert Rusnak.

13
Last season: 14

You want a new, privately-funded, nice-but-not-fancy stadium that cost $100 million? O.K., here you go. The Earthquakes own the stadium and the land. Although there isn’t a stand-alone training facility, San Jose’s practice field is right next to the stadium, and the team has committed to building a separate youth complex that will cost between $30 million and $40 million. DP spending isn’t in the top half of the league, although the Earthquakes do plan to sign a third one this summer. Spending on technical staff, including coach Dom Kinnear and new GM Jesse Fioranelli, is near the top of the league, however. But with the team predicted to struggle this season, two-time league champ Kinnear is very much on the hot seat.

14
Last season: 16

The Union has spent some serious money on youth development, averaging $4 million a year over the past five seasons. That includes a soccer-specific high school with 75 full-time students. Talen Energy Stadium, the seven-year-old, $120 million home, has an amazing view of the Delaware River and a not-so-amazing location in Chester. But the training fields next to the stadium have been upgraded, and the team offices are now housed in a cool part of the old power plant next door. The Union doesn’t spend a lot on DPs (Alejandro Bedoya and Maurice Edu), but they do invest in a good TV product, with JP Dellacamera and Tommy Smyth calling games this season.

15
15Colorado Rapids
Last season: 18

Look, Colorado deserves a bump upward for its increased spending on DPs, from Tim Howard ($2.6 million a year) to Shkelzen Gashi ($1.7 million). That’s something we hadn’t seen before 2016 from this club, and they helped push the Rapids to a performance beyond anyone’s expectations last season. Attendance was up too at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, a decent 10-year-old facility that’s located in a part of the city best known for truck stops.

16
Last season: 15

You can’t escape the fact that Toyota Park is a disaster, an 11-year-old, $100 million monument to poor decisions, and it’s only a matter of time before the Fire gets out of its onerous lease with the city of Bridgeview and moves its games downtown. The club argues that it has spent where it can (read: everywhere but on the stadium) and says owner Andrew Hauptman has invested a total of more than $100 million across the organization over the years, including $5 million on DPs Nemanja Nikolic and David Accam ahead of the 2017 season. Second-year GM Nelson Rodríguez needs to see improvement on the field from Veljko Paunovic’s team that finished in last place in the East in 2016. Located in one of the world’s great cities, the Fire needs to regain relevance there. Until then, it will remain one of the sad stories in MLS. Another intriguing note: Chicago doesn’t have a USL team.

17
Last season: 12

Stade Saputo is what it is: A low-cost soccer stadium in a good location that gets the job done. DP spending is down with the departure of Didier Drogba and nobody of his stature to replace him. Montreal does have its own modest training facility for its first team and youth ranks, though spending on youth development is near the bottom of the league. We do like the passion of owner Joey Saputo and wish every MLS owner cared so much publicly for his team.

18
Last season: 19

Finally, finally, finally, United broke ground earlier this week on Audi Field, the urban stadium that many thought would never get built. That should be a game-changer for the four-time league champion, which claims that the stadium will end up having a total investment of $500 million (insert scratching-head emoji). So United gets a bump upward, even though it remains one of the league’s cheapest teams day-to-day. We’ll be looking to see what gets done with a training facility next. The current practice field next to RFK Stadium is … not ideal.

19
Last season: 11

Mapfre Stadium is historic in its own way, the first soccer-specific stadium in MLS. But in 2017 it feels like a high school facility, which is why Columbus needs to do something about building a new home for the team. Last summer the Crew launched a study to measure community demand and economic development impact for a new stadium, and the team needs to make it happen. The Crew is doing some good things with youth development, spending nearly $2.5 million in that area in 2016, and the club renovated its training facility completely in 2014. DP spending (on Federico Higuaín and Jonathan Mensah) is middle of the pack in MLS.

20
Last season: 13

There’s a malaise in Houston that’s a little hard to figure out. Some of it is obvious, like the poor decision to hire Owen Coyle, who lasted 17 months as manager. Some of it is a head-scratcher, like the reasons why a five-year-old, $95 million stadium in a great downtown location would be lacking in atmosphere. Players from Houston’s title-winning teams (Stu Holden, Geoff Cameron, et al) were publicly unhappy when former teammate Wade Barrett was passed over for the coaching job last year, but if Wilmer Cabrera can get things going, winning would override that discontent. DP spending (on Alberth Elis and Erick Torres) and youth development are decent, but this club needs a kickstart.

21
Last season: N/A

It’s all about building a stadium for this 2017 expansion team. To be specific, a privately-financed stadium costing $150 million. Everything else is pretty bare bones right now, from spending on players to an academy and USL team, which are supposed to come online next year. The jersey sponsorship by Target is good, as are the 11,000 season ticket holders. I almost feel like putting an N/A next to Minnesota instead of a ranking number, because a lot remains to be seen about this team’s ambitions.

22
Last season: 20

Here we go again. How is it that the Krafts, one of the most beloved ownership groups in the NFL, might be the most disliked owners by their own fans in MLS? As James Carville might say, it’s the stadium, stupid. Here we are in 2017, the team’s 22nd season, and it still doesn’t have an urban soccer stadium or any set plan to build one. “A project is currently in process” in Boston’s “urban core,” the team says, and if it gets done the Revs will rise in the Ambition Rankings. Until then, they’ll remain at the bottom.

For detailed, inside information about each club that factored into their ranking (plus info on 2018 expansion club LAFC), click below for their individual responses to our universal survey. Every club was asked the same set of questions, and their direct replies have been edited only for clarity. All but one club provided answers:

Atlanta United | Chicago Fire | Colorado Rapids | Columbus Crew | D.C. United | FC Dallas | Houston Dynamo | LAFC | LA Galaxy | Minnesota United | Montreal Impact | New England Revolution | New York City FC | New York Red Bulls | Orlando City | Philadelphia Union | Portland Timbers | Real Salt Lake | San Jose Earthquakes | Seattle Sounders | Sporting Kansas City | Toronto FC | Vancouver Whitecaps

Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: Atlanta United

Friday March 3rd, 2017

How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?

Our new $60 million training facility is to be used by both our academy and first team and has been designed and built with youth development being an integral part of the facility. It will also be used as a base for grass roots soccer initiatives including coach education and referee training. 

How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team?

Two, Andrew Carleton and Chris Goslin. We were the first MLS team to launch our academy, at all five age groups, over a year before our first team and our first league game. Both Carleton and Goslin have played for our first team during MLS preseason matches.

How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2016?

As of Feb. 27, we have over 30,000 season ticket holders for our inaugural season, a record for an expansion team, and sales are continuing.

Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost?

On March 2, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta was named the official naming partner of Atlanta United’s Marietta, Georgia, training ground. The privately funded, state-of-the-art training ground, featuring six full-length fields (grass and turf) will be completed in April 2017. This Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground also houses club technical staff, academy teams and front office staff.

Did your team build its own stadium? If yes, how much money did the team spend on the stadium?

Yes. Atlanta United will move into its permanent home, Mercedes-Benz Stadium in late summer 2017. The $1.5 billion stadium will be a world-class venue and will feature soccer-specific configuration for Atlanta United matches: seating areas in the corners retract to allow a full-size FIFA pitch; down-sizing mechanism for the upper bowl to create a more intimate atmosphere; Atlanta United dedicated locker room and facilities.

Do you have a USL affiliate? How big is your budget this year for your USL team?

We currently have an affiliation with Charleston Battery. As of Feb. 24, we have one contracted player on loan for the 2017 season with Charleston. In 2016, we had four contracted players earn minutes in Charleston.

How much money have you spent in the three previous years on Designated Players (transfer fees and salary)? How much are you spending on Designated Players this year?

We have signed three Designated Players under the age of 24; Miguel Almiron (Paraguayan National Team, played in 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying and the 2016 Copa America Centenario), Josef Martinez (Venezuelan National Team) and Hector Villalba (first designated player in Atlanta United history).

How much TAM have you spent since its inception in the middle of 2015 (including this year)?

We have used TAM in a number of ways to help build our inaugural roster.  

How would you describe your investment in and use of data analytics? How many full-time analytics employees do you have?

We are very invested in data analytics. We hired Lucy Rushton as our Head of Technical Scouting from Reading FC in the UK over a year before we started our first game. We have also hired Ryan Alexander, from U.S. Soccer, as our Head of Sports Science who has extensive experience in data analytics including GPS analysis. This use of data analytics is not only for the first team but is something we have integrated vertically throughout the academy.

On the business side, we work with the AMB Sports & Entertainment analytics team on key strategic issues such as ticket pricing and email marketing. They oversee our fan surveying and operate our new Fan Council, which provides us valuable fan feedback to allow us to listen and respond to fans as we build the club.

Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season?

Our jersey sponsor is American Family Insurance. We are the top MLS club in sponsorship revenue (without its own soccer stadium). American Family is one of very few Fortune 500 companies to be on a jersey front, and by selling sponsorship of the academy kits separately, we have created incremental revenue for the club and have been able to partner with a major financial company and local employer, SunTrust.   

Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season? How big is your budget for presenting local TV broadcasts? Do your broadcasters travel on the road for local TV broadcasts?

We recently announced our local broadcast partner FOX Sports South and FOX Regional Networks. We will be covered in six states (Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi), will have 19 games on local television and 15 on national television. Our broadcast team of three (play by play, analyst, sideline reporter) will travel to every broadcast, including all road matches.

How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?

We have approximately 100 front-office employees and growing.

What other sorts of details should we know about your club that are a good barometer of the club’s ambition? 

On the pitch, we are very excited about the mix of young, talented players we will feature on the first team for our inaugural season, including three DP’s under the age of 24, along with a solid mix of MLS veterans. We have also achieved great success with our academy teams with the U-18 and U-16 Atlanta United Academy squads ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the country, respectively, and 20 academy players having been called up internationally. Off the pitch, we are thrilled about the excitement and passion for the club in the city of Atlanta, as evidenced by our season ticket numbers, ranking us second in the league with over 30,000 sold before our first match.  

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Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: Chicago Fire

Friday March 3rd, 2017

How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?  

The Fire spends more than $1.25 million annually for a fully-funded academy.

How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team? 

Nine total. Six have played in MLS, with five of those currently on the roster.

How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2016?  

We have 6,500, which is the same as 2016 and three times the 2011 total.

Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost? 

The Fire first team trains at the stadium training grounds built and maintained by the Village of Bridgeview as a part of the $100 million project in 2006. The first team also makes use of the club’s $22 million facility, The PrivateBank Fire Pitch, for select training sessions.

Did your team build its own stadium? If yes, how much money did the team spend on the stadium? 

Toyota Park was built and is maintained by the Village of Bridgeview as a part of the $100 million project in 2006.The Fire have funded several improvement projects, including a $3 million project to the Heineken Second Star club (a 154-seat directors box).

Do you have a USL affiliate? How big is your budget this year for your USL team? 

We do not own/manage a USL team.

How much money have you spent in the three previous years on Designated Players (transfer fees and salary)? How much are you spending on Designated Players this year? 

$11.6 million ($5.1 million in 2015, $1.5 million in 2016, $5 million in 2017).

How much TAM have you spent since its inception in the middle of 2015 (including this year)? 

Not released for competitive reasons.

How would you describe your investment in and use of data analytics? How many full-time analytics employees do you have? 

We manage internally.

Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season? 

Valspar Corporation. The Fire have more than 60 corporate partners.

Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season? How big is your budget for presenting local TV broadcasts? Do your broadcasters travel on the road for local TV broadcasts?  

The Fire will air 29 matches on CSN Chicago this season in year three of a three-year deal valued more than $1.25 million annually. The schedule also includes a four-game schedule of Spanish-language simulcasts, 36 one-hour live weekly talk shows and four special edition All-Access shows.

How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?

We have 90 (150 total, including part time). The number is up from 76 in 2016.

What other sorts of details should we know about your club that are a good barometer of the club’s ambition? 

Owner Andrew Hauptman has invested more than $100 million across the entire organization–from infrastructure and facilities, to talent acquisition and player development systems to enhanced community and charitable programs. These commitments will continue in 2017 and beyond.

Ownership believes in what we’re building, how we’re building it and the people who are running it. More than $10 million has been invested into the roster ahead of the 2017 campaign.

We have built a 365-day thriving soccer ecosystem that engages with the community everywhere soccer is played, coached, and watched in the city.

Another way to say it: When we think about building our brand, we don’t just focus on our 17 home games, we want to engage the community 365 days of the year.  In order to do that we have built a year-round soccer ecosystem that engages with the community everywhere soccer is played, coached, and watched in the city. We have programs for kids starting at 2 years, going all the way up to the pro level.  Every step of the way our objective is to build a life-long fire fan. We feel that we are unique in this regard.

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Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: Columbus Crew SC

Friday March 3rd, 2017

How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?

Crew SC has spent nearly $2.5 million in 2016 on youth development, and across the past five years Crew SC has spent more than $11 million on youth development which includes an increased Academy budget of 241% since 2014.

How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team?

Crew SC has signed 11 Homegrown players, including Alex Crognale this offseason. A Homegrown player has appeared on the game day roster for every game (except one) over the past three MLS seasons. Five homegrown players have appeared for the club in a MLS regular season match.

How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2016?

While Crew SC season ticket membership has experienced significant growth across the last four seasons, we are forecasting an overall year-over-year reduction in FSE’s for the 2017 season.

Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost?

Crew SC trains at The EAS Training Center at Obetz. The interior was completely renovated in 2014 and cosmetic enhancements were made to the exterior and field areas.

Did your team build its own stadium? If yes, how much money did the team spend on the stadium?

Mapfre Stadium is the first soccer specific stadium in Major League Soccer and opened in 1999 after construction costs totaling $32 million. Since Anthony Precourt acquired Crew SC in 2013, Precourt Sports Ventures has invested millions of dollars into stadium improvements.  

Do you have a USL affiliate? How big is your budget this year for your USL team?

Crew SC currently maintains affiliate relationship with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

How much money have you spent in the three previous years on Designated Players (transfer fees and salary)? How much are you spending on Designated Players this year?

Crew SC has featured at least one Designated Player on its roster for the past three seasons and the Designated Player budget was more than doubled for the 2017 season.

How much TAM have you spent since its inception in the middle of 2015 (including this year)?

Crew SC plans to spend over $3 million in TAM funding over the period from its inception in 2015 through the end of 2017 season.  

How would you describe your investment in and use of data analytics? How many full-time analytics employees do you have?

Fluency in data analytics is a screening criteria for every employee hired to work with Crew SC Soccer Ops. Two full-time employees focus on analytics and we outsource specialized analytic services to a number of local, national and international firms.

Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season?

Luxury auto brand Acura was recently announced as Crew SC’s official jersey partner. Overall 2017 sponsorship revenues are forecasted to increase by approximately $1.5 million year-over-Year.

Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season? How big is your budget for presenting local TV broadcasts? Do your broadcasters travel on the road for local TV broadcasts?

All 32 regionally televised games will broadcast locally as part of a simulcast package featuring Sinclair-operated stations in Columbus (ABC, FOX, CW, MyTVColumbus), Spectrum Sports Ohio and Buckeye Broadband; 25 of 32 matches will broadcast over-the-air locally on CW Columbus (WWHO); two of 32 will be on local ABC affiliate (WSYX); one of 32 will be on local FOX affiliate (WTTE), and four midweek matches will be on MyTVColumbus (WSYX.2). All 32 matches will also be simulcast on Spectrum Sports to Spectrum subscribers throughout Ohio (including Columbus).

In addition, Crew SC has a rights deal with Buckeye Cable SportsNet which broadcasts all 32 regional matches to Buckeye Broadband subscribers in Toledo/Sandusky. As was the case in 2016, Crew SC has removed all blackout restrictions resulting in full access for MLS Live and MLS Direct Kick subscribers (including those living in Columbus). Crew SC TV broadcasters do not travel with the club for road matches and call matches from a Columbus location.

How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?

Crew SC has approximately 90 full-time employees presently employed which represents a slight year-over-year reduction in headcount.

What other sorts of details should we know about your club that are a good barometer of the club’s ambition? 

In summer 2016, Crew SC launched a large-scale study designed to measure community demand & economic development impact for a potential new soccer-specific stadium in Columbus.

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Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: D.C. United

Friday March 3rd, 2017

How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?

Approximately $6 million over five years. Approximately $1.5 million spent in 2016.

How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team?

D.C. United have signed nine homegrown players, including: Bill Hamid; Andy Najar; Jalen Robinson; U-17 U.S. national team captain Chris Durkin; and 2016 Hermann Trophy winner (and son of United legend, John Harkes), Ian Harkes. The club's newest homegrown signings, Durkin and Harkes, look to make their MLS debuts in 2017. All of club's homegrowns, with the exception of Harkes and Durkin, who just joined the team in the offseason, have seen minutes with the first team.

Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost?

With a world-class stadium set to open in 2018, United are focused on locating a permanent training facility. The club is in discussions with various locations in the D.C. area to develop a state-of-the-art training facility and plan to finalize those plans in the coming months.

Did your team build its own stadium? If yes, how much money did the team spend on the stadium?

D.C. United broke ground on Audi Field on Feb. 27, 2017, which will have a total investment of a half a billion dollars. Opening in 2018, it will also host a variety of other sporting and cultural events, community activities, and concerts. The state-of-the-art urban facility has a capacity of 20,000 fans and will feature 31 luxury suites, a bike valet, and 500,000 total square feet of mixed-use retail and residential space on site, making it a 365-day destination for fans and D.C. residents alike.

How much money have you spent in the three previous years on Designated Players (transfer fees and salary)? How much are you spending on Designated Players this year?

United secured long-term contracts for some of their biggest contributors in 2016–Steve Birnbaum, Patrick Mullins and Luciano Acosta. Acosta was purchased from Boca Juniors at the end of 2016, with the highest transfer fee paid in club history.

How much TAM have you spent since its inception in the middle of 2015 (including this year)? 

We have spent 90% of available TAM since it's inception.

How would you describe your investment in and use of data analytics? How many full-time analytics employees do you have?

Understanding and using data analytics is a priority for United–to maximize our players' output, identify new talent and scout opposing teams. During the 2016 season, United hired a Director of Soccer Strategy and Analytics and are continuing to invest in the use of data analytics in 2017. We have hired a second data analyst to support in areas of player recruitment and match preparation.

Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season?

Leidos; Income information is confidential.

Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season? How big is your budget for presenting local TV broadcasts? Do your broadcasters travel on the road for local TV broadcasts?

D.C. United began broadcasting local matches in house, in partnership with Sinclair Broadcasting Group, in 2016. This agreement allows for three hours of game programming for every match, with half hour pre- and post-game coverage with each game. Games air regionally on over-the-air and basic cable channels, significantly increasing the number of households in the District of Columbia market who receive these broadcasts. In 2017, 31 non-nationally televised games will air on local television within the District of Columbia region. D.C. United will produce away games on location and broadcasters will travel to all matches in 2017.

What other sorts of details should we know about your club that are a good barometer of the club’s ambition? 

After 21 years in RFK Stadium, D.C. United have broken ground on a state-of-the-art facility in the heart of the nation’s capital. Securing a long-term stadium naming rights agreement with local partner, Audi of America was a significant step for the Black-and-Red, as they look to return the District of Columbia to the forefront of soccer in the U.S. United are committed to giving soccer fans a first-class experience, both on and off the field. 

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Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: FC Dallas

Friday March 3rd, 2017

How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?

$15 million over the last five for an average of $3 million per year.

How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team?

We’ve signed 17 and 13 have played so far, but three of the four that have not played were signed this offseason (Jesus Ferreira, Paxton Pomykal and Bryan Reynolds). Basically, all of them have played but goalkeeper Richard Sanchez, who was sold to Tigres. 

How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2016?

We’re up 10% from last season. Our VP of Ticket Sales says the league policy doesn’t allow him to disclose more specific numbers.

Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost?

The team trains at the Toyota Soccer Center & Toyota Stadium. The club built the training facility for $80 million in 2005.

Do you have a USL affiliate? How big is your budget this year for your USL team?

We run everything through our affiliate OKC Energy FC but the club still spends around $200,000.

How much money have you spent in the three previous years on Designated Players (transfer fees and salary)? How much are you spending on Designated Players this year?

We have spent more on DPs in 2017 than we have ever before.

How much TAM have you spent since its inception in the middle of 2015 (including this year)?

$1 million.

How would you describe your investment in and use of data analytics? How many full-time analytics employees do you have?

$50,000 investment.

Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season?

AdvoCare. Total income not disclosed.

Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season? How big is your budget for presenting local TV broadcasts? Do your broadcasters travel on the road for local TV broadcasts?

32 of 34 games will be aired on TV. Broadcasters do not travel for local broadcasts.

How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?

Added to a total of 60-70.

What other sorts of details should we know about your club that are a good barometer of the club’s ambition?

Like we said above, we have spent more on DP’s in 2017 than we have ever before. Our ambitions are to win now.

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Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: Houston Dynamo

Friday March 3rd, 2017

How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?

We can’t disclose specific dollar amounts spent, but every year we continue to make incremental investments into the Academy program.

The Dynamo Academy has grown to 10 teams, ranging from U-9 up through U-23. This year, we added the Under-9 team, and have reached an agreement with an organization in College Station, Texas to establish a PDL team, which will provide our U-23 team a fantastic opportunity to compete.

Additionally, we have reached a groundbreaking partnership with two major clubs in the Greater Houston area, Rush and Space City Soccer, that will bring its 5,500 players into the Dynamo and Dash family. The boys’ teams will compete as Dynamo Soccer Club and the girls will compete as Dash Soccer Club. This partnership will create a fully-integrated pipeline for players, from the earliest recreational level to select and competitive teams, and for the truly elite players, up into the Dynamo and Dash Academy.

This partnership will bring added resources and befits to the Dynamo Academy, including a much larger player pool.

The partnership will also launch the Dash Academy this year. We’ll be one of three clubs in America with an MLS team, an NWSL team, a USL team, a boys’ academy and a girls’ academy all under one umbrella. (Portland and Orlando are the others).

Finally, we have invested heavily in our coaching staff at the Academy level, sending several of our coaches through the French Football Association training program that MLS has set up. We have made the strategic decision to assign our best coaches to the youngest teams in order to build an excellent base for those players.

How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team?

To date, we have signed nine players to Homegrown Player deals from the Dynamo Academy. Tyler Deric has logged the most time with our first team, having played in 55 league matches so far. We also just announced the signing of Jose “Memo” Rodriguez to the first team. Memo joined the Academy at the U-16 level and is the first player in our club to progress from the Academy through our USL team, RGV FC, and up to the first team.

We have several more bright talents in the pipeline, including Christian Lucatero, who is with RGV FC now and, still just at age 19, has a very bright future ahead of him as he continues his maturation as a pro. Marcelo Palomino is another bright talent who is currently in residence with the U.S. U-17 national team in Bradenton and is a regular member of the U-16 national team.

How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2016?

We are not in a position to disclose specific numbers. Candidly, after three consecutive seasons of missing the playoffs, our season ticket numbers have declined a bit from 2016, but it is not a substantial amount, and we expect to rebound quickly as the team shows improvement on the field.

An encouraging sign, there has been a significant improvement in other areas of our ticket sales business, which indicates that there is a lot of excitement around the team in our market as we head into the season. With all of the new signings, we’ve seen significantly more interest in the local Hispanic community, particularly the large and very passionate Honduran and Colombian communities, as our team continues to directly reflect the diversity of our community.

Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost?

The Dynamo first team trains on the Methodist Champions Field at Houston Sports Park. HSP has been funded and developed by the City of Houston with the assistance of the Houston Parks Board. The Dynamo organization manages the facility on a day-to-day basis. The Dash also train at HSP, along with all of the Dynamo Academy teams. Currently the facility has five Bermuda grass fields and one Field Turf field, and there are plans for future development that would include additional fields and facilities, along with amenities like hike-and-bike trails, a playground, and more parking.

Did your team build its own stadium? If yes, how much money did the team spend on the stadium?

The construction of BBVA Compass Stadium was a private-public partnership financed by the Dynamo organization, along with the Houston/Harris County Sports Authority and opened its doors in May, 2012. Construction of the stadium cost an estimated $95 million.

Do you have a USL affiliate? How big is your budget this year for your USL team?

Without disclosing specific dollar amounts, we are continuing to invest in RGV FC. Year one was very positive (on and off the field) and the hybrid relationship we created is being looked at as a model by other clubs across the league.

RGV FC’s new state-of-the-art stadium, which seats nearly 10,000, is set to open next month and will be the class of USL. They’ve already built a strong fan base; and the presence of that team has had a very positive impact on the Dynamo brand recognition throughout the Rio Grande Valley.

The partnership is already paying dividends as we promoted Wilmer Cabrera from RGV FC after a very successful season. We’re also seeing results in terms of player development. Five of the players on our opening-day roster played with RGV FC last year. We also had several players on the first team who took advantage of opportunities to get minutes with RGV last year.

How much money have you spent in the three previous years on Designated Players (transfer fees and salary)? How much are you spending on Designated Players this year?

Again, without divulging specific contract details, we’ve tried to be strategic in our use of DP slots. Our plan is to target young, talented players who can develop in MLS and contribute to the club.

Players like Erick Torres, Mauro Manotas and Alberth Elis are good examples of this strategy at 24, 21 and 21 respectively. We’re very high on them and think each has the ability to be among the top players in the league as they develop.

How much TAM have you spent since its inception in the middle of 2015 (including this year)?

TAM has been a great asset to our club in terms of building the roster, and it has allowed us to be much more creative with player acquisitions. We have used TAM to acquire Romell Quioto, Juan David Cabezas and A.J. DeLaGarza this off-season. We expect these players to have a significant positive impact on our team this season.

How would you describe your investment in and use of data analytics? How many full-time analytics employees do you have?

Data analytics continue to take on a larger role within our team staff’s preparation, as well as within our business operations. We’ve had a full-time data analyst for two years, and this year we added a second full-time analyst to assist the coaches with film study, data analysis and preparation. Data also figures heavily into our players’ fitness and nutrition regimens, as everything from their physical workloads during training to their food intake and their sleep habits are tracked and analyzed in order for our fitness coach, Paul Caffrey, to create personalized training regimens for each player. This allows us to not only maximize a player’s physical ability, but also prevent injury by not pushing a player to over-exertion.

On the business side, we’ve invested in a new CRM system that will allow us to operate more efficiently in a number of areas such as sponsorships, ticket sales and marketing. We’re continuing to build a more accurate picture of who our fans are; when, where, why and how they purchase tickets; and how we can provide them with the best possible experience each time they interact with the Dynamo.

Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season?

BHP Billiton is our current jersey sponsor, and they are in year-three of a potential five-year deal. We will not publicly disclose the dollar value but will say that our jersey sponsorship is in line with the league average.

We added 76 as a new sponsor to our training jerseys in 2017.

Our total sponsorship revenue for 2017 is already well-ahead of a year ago and is quickly nearing a club record.

We recently announced a groundbreaking partnership with Roc Nation, the global sports and entertainment marketing agency founded by hip-hop star Jay-Z, as the agency of record for the Dynamo. The partnership also creates the opportunity for Roc Nation to bring world-class events and concerts to BBVA Compass Stadium, which will further benefit our fans and our community.

Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season? How big is your budget for presenting local TV broadcasts? Do your broadcasters travel on the road for local TV broadcasts?

This year, the Dynamo moved to a new TV home with KUBE Channel 57, a local, over-the-air independent station.

We will televise 25 of our 34 games on KUBE, along with another eight games on UniMás between local and national broadcasts. These games are fully distributed in the Houston, which has not been the case since 2012 as a result of various factors in the local TV market.

The primary benefit to moving to KUBE is that we are able to create a consistent TV location where fans know they can find the Dynamo game. In years past, we shared a station with the Rockets and Astros, and consequently dealt with games needing to bump to an alternate channel due to schedule conflicts. Consistency of channel and time (all of our home games are at 7:30 or 8:00, except for two 3 p.m. kicks) should help us drive better ratings, which results in more value for advertisers and partners, and greater visibility for the club.

At this time, we are still deciding whether or not to travel our broadcast team on the road.

How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?

Right now we have approximately 140 full-time team members.

Our organization continues to grow across the board in every area, year over year.

What other sorts of details should we know about your club that are a good barometer of the club’s ambition? 

We are investing more than $5 million into stadium improvements this year. The improvements will mainly come from new concessions areas and revised concessions concepts, new stadium LED boards and enhanced mobile connectivity for fans in the stadium.

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Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: LAFC

Friday March 3rd, 2017

How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year? 

LAFC Academy is committed to the development of world-class players and people.

We are developing the next generation of players to the highest global standards, ensuring they receive the necessary training and support to successfully represent LAFC, our community, and our country.  

The LAFC Academy recently announced it has added two new age groups, U-13 and U-14, bringing the total to three fully-funded LAFC Academy teams for the 2017-18 Academy season (U-12, U-13, U-14).

LAFC also recently announced its coaching staff for the club’s youth development program. The impressive six-member coaching staff represents diverse backgrounds and both national, and international experience in youth soccer development. Their experience ranges from FC Barcelona, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa to Inter Milan, AC Milan, Roma, Bologna and Napoli. Each staff member is committed to developing the next generation of players to the highest global standards and creating a pipeline to LAFC’s First Team.

LAFC’s Girls Academy is through an exciting partnership with Southern California-based National Champions Slammers FC and is set to debut fall 2017. 

How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2016?  

We have over 14,000 season ticket deposits thus far. 

Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost?

LAFC will start training in 2018 at a state-of-the-art training facility.

Did your team build its own stadium? If yes, how much money did the team spend on the stadium?

LAFC is building a state of the art 22,000-seat soccer-specific stadium, Banc of California stadium, bringing $350 million in private investment to South Los Angeles.  It was recently called the “crown jewel of the world’s favorite sport.”  It will have the steepest seating bowl at 34 degrees, closest seat to the touchline is 12 feet away, and farthest seat will be 135 feet from the pitch. for a truly immersive soccer experience. The LAFC front office is involving supporters’ groups in designing the Banc of California Stadium’s north end.

The development includes a district that will be active on non-game days, 365-days of the year, that will feature a large public plaza, restaurants, retail store, and a conference and events center, serving as a sports, entertainment, civic, and cultural landmark for Los Angeles. 

The stadium is located in Exposition Park, anchoring the Figueroa corridor with great views of the downtown skyline.

Do you have a USL affiliate? How big is your budget this year for your USL team?

In 2016, LAFC announced a multi-year partnership with USL’s Orange County Soccer Club that will expand player development and create a pipeline that will foster top-class players competing at both the MLS and USL levels. This partnership will provide LAFC the ability to loan players to Orange County as soon as 2017 and Orange County soccer players will be provided with a clear pathway to LAFC.

How much money have you spent in the three previous years on Designated Players (transfer fees and salary)? How much are you spending on Designated Players this year?

N/A

How much TAM have you spent since its inception in the middle of 2015 (including this year)?

N/A

How would you describe your investment in and use of data analytics? How many full-time analytics employees do you have?

Data analytics will be a critical aspect of soccer and business operations at LAFC. We are building our organization to reflect this priority.

Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season?

In the past year, LAFC has announced several major partnerships:

LAFC announced Banc of California as the naming partner of the club's stadium, officially named Banc of California Stadium, as well as the Official Bank of LAFC and the LAFC Foundation. Banc of California is recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of America's Best Banks and is one of the fastest growing banks in America.

Delta Air Lines and its partner Aeromexico were named the official airline partners for LAFC. The partnership promises to deliver premier fan experiences and community engagement. 

Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Company announced a partnership with LAFC as an official launch partner and digital solutions provider for the Banc of California stadium. This partnership set the record for most square footage of LED video display technology installed in a MLS venue.

IBM and LAFC announced a strategic partnership that focuses on leveraging IBM’s innovative converged technology platforms to deliver a world class fan experience at LAFC’s new 22,000-seat Banc of California Stadium and is the first MLS soccer-specific stadium partnership for IBM.

Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season? How big is your budget for presenting local TV broadcasts? Do your broadcasters travel on the road for local TV broadcasts?

N/A

How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?

LAFC has approximately 50 front office employees.

What other sorts of details should we know about your club that are a good barometer of the club’s ambition? 

Our club promise from day one has been to unite the world’s city through the world’s game. We aspire to achieve that through a state of the art soccer specific stadium, a championship first team, best-in-class fan experience and innovative business operations worthy of the great city in which we live.

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Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: LA Galaxy

Friday March 3rd, 2017

How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?

Past five years: $16 million; Past year: $4 million

LA Galaxy continued to invest substantially into youth development through the LA Galaxy Academy Blended Learning Program, which provides a full high-school education at StubHub Center for student-athletes immersed in the same professional environment as LA Galaxy and LA Galaxy II. Last year, the Blended Learning Program saw its first-ever class of graduates. It is the only program in North America that allows Academy players to train and develop using the same facilities, schedule, and resources as an MLS and USL team.

The LA Galaxy launched LA Galaxy Girls’ U-14, U-15, U-16/17 and U-18/19 Academy teams that will compete in the U.S. Soccer Girls’ Development Academy League. We will have four girl’s academy teams. U-14 and U-15 are split. 

The LA Galaxy Girls’ Academy teams launch is the first and only girls academy program to be fully-funded by a Major League Soccer side, allowing talented local athletes to join free of charge, and it's one of the only free Girls' Academy programs in the United States.

Since 2015, Galaxy have signed nine players from LA Galaxy II: Dave Romney, Daniel Steres, Clement Diop, Ariel Lassiter, Jack McBean, Hugo Arellano, Bradley Diallo, Nathan Smith and Jaime Villarreal

Nine out of 11 players on LA Galaxy II are products of the LA Galaxy Academy.

How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team?

15 Homegrown Players signed across first team and LA Galaxy II and five Homegrown Players have earned first-team minutes: Gyasi Zardes, Jose Villarreal, Jack McBean, Raul Mendiola and Bradford Jamieson IV

All five have been a part of an MLS Cup championship side, while Gyasi Zardes set LA Galaxy Homegrown Player record for goals in a single season (16) in 2014 and scored a decisive goal in the 2014 MLS Cup victory. Jack McBean is LA Galaxy’s youngest ever player to start, score a goal, and play a full 90 minutes in an MLS match

How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2016?

2016: 10,683

2017: 11,400

Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost?

At StubHub Center in adjacent fields, using stadium facilities for workout room, weight room, spa room, equipment room, and player lounge area.

Since 2013, the LA Galaxy have invested over $15 million into StubHub Center including: Dedicated first team, Galaxy II and Academy training areas, locker rooms and weight rooms; The Jim Beam Champions Lounge; LED Lights; The largest video board in MLS; Stadium branding; Renovated American Express Stadium Club.

The LA Galaxy, AEG and StubHub Center are announcing substantial enhancements to the state-of-the-art facility on March 3.

Did your team build its own stadium? If yes, how much money did the team spend on the stadium?

Yes. The stadium is owned and operated by AEG, the parent company of the LA Galaxy.

Do you have a USL affiliate? How big is your budget this year for your USL team?

LA Galaxy II; $2.3 million

How much money have you spent in the three previous years on Designated Players (transfer fees and salary)? How much are you spending on Designated Players this year?

2014: $9.8 million

2015: $11.0 million

2016: $13.7 million

2017: $8.1 million (will increase this number with the signing of a third DP)

*Transfer fees not included

How much TAM have you spent since its inception in the middle of 2015 (including this year)?

We will spend, inclusive of intended 2017 spend, 100% of TAM since its inception. 

How would you describe your investment in and use of data analytics? How many full-time analytics employees do you have?

We have an analytics team of four full-time employees skilled at SAS, HTML, statistical modeling, etc.

Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season?

Herbalife Nutrition, and in 2016 sponsorships accounted for $23.1 million, an LA Galaxy record.

Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season? How big is your budget for presenting local TV broadcasts? Do your broadcasters travel on the road for local TV broadcasts?

We have 18 games on local TV in 2017 in a deal worth $5.5 million total revenue, highest in MLS. English and Spanish broadcasts are available for each match on Spectrum, and all on-air talent in English and Spanish travel for away broadcasts.

Backstage Galaxy, an all-access, behind the scenes program returns for its sixth season.

How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?

LA Galaxy have 80 front-office employees, and we added five new full-time business ops positions in 2017.

What other sorts of details should we know about your club that are a good barometer of the club’s ambition?

LA Galaxy Vice President of Ticket Sales and Service, Adam Cheever was a finalist for MLS Ticket Sales Executive of the Year; LA Galaxy Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Digital was a finalist for MLS Marketing Executive of the Year; Won 2016 MLS Digital Team of the Year; Finalist for MLS Communications Team of the Year, MLS Digital Activation of the Year.

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Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: Minnesota United

Friday March 3rd, 2017

How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?

Not applicable, given it's our first year in MLS. We just launched our academy program.

How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team?

Really just Collin Martin (a D.C. United homegrown player acquired via trade), but not wholly applicable, given it's our first year in MLS.

How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2016?

We are closing in on 11,000 season ticket holders in just six months since MLS announcement in August; last year we had 6,000.

Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost?

National Sports Center; We have partnered with NSC to renovate the existing facility at a cost of more than $15 million (cost of partnership with NSC, not overall cost of facility).

Did your team build its own stadium? If yes, how much money did the team spend on the stadium?

Yes, we are in the process of building our 100% privately financed stadium at a minimum cost of $150 million

Do you have a USL affiliate? How big is your budget this year for your USL team?

Not applicable for our first year in MLS.

How much money have you spent in the three previous years on Designated Players (transfer fees and salary)? How much are you spending on Designated Players this year?

N/A

How much TAM have you spent since its inception in the middle of 2015 (including this year)?

We have spent the maximum amount of TAM this year. Vadim Demidov, Francisco Calvo & Rasmus Schuller are all signed using TAM

How would you describe your investment in and use of data analytics? How many full-time analytics employees do you have?

We feel we have invested very well, and it critically important for this year and to grow to be a successful club.

Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season?

Target; amount undisclosed.

Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season? How big is your budget for presenting local TV broadcasts? Do your broadcasters travel on the road for local TV broadcasts?

We will have all matches on local broadcast television this season. We will travel play by play and color for all matches this year (Callum Williams & Kyndra de St. Aubin, respectively).

How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?

More than 75; we had around 50 prior to joining MLS

What other sorts of details should we know about your club that are a good barometer of the club’s ambition?  

High investment in soccer specific stadium, less focus on spending money on DPs (though the club has a large roster budget, this is done strategically). Aim to have USL team next year and full academy program next year. Target sponsorship is perhaps most well-known brand/company for jersey sponsor in MLS.

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Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: Montreal Impact

Friday March 3rd, 2017

How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?

The club has spent approximately $1.5 million per year over the past three years on player development.

How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team?

Since the club entered MLS in 2012, we have signed a total of 10 homegrown players with the first team. We currently have six on our roster. All six are also part of the national team program, whether it be the U-20 team or senior team.

How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2016?

In 2016, the club had 9,500 season ticket holders (members). This year, with a renewal rate of 85% and new sales, we are currently at 9,200.

Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost?

The first team and all other nine Impact teams train at our new facility, Centre Nutrilait. The center was an old historic building near downtown Montreal that was completely refurbished at the cost of $11.9 million. The new facility has not only proven to be instrumental in having all the teams under the same roof, but it has been vital in attracting marquee players to the first team and also hosting prestigious international teams like Chelsea, Real Madrid and AS Roma for their preseason. The center also has a fully operational kitchen, and breakfast and meals are served to all players on a daily basis.

Did your team build its own stadium? If yes, how much money did the team spend on the stadium?

Saputo Stadium was built in Montreal’s Olympic Park, one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city. The total cost for the stadium was $41 million.

Do you have a USL affiliate? How big is your budget this year for your USL team?

We no longer have a USL team. However, we are currently affiliated to Ottawa Fury FC and have three players from our Academy under contract with them. Our U-16 and U-18 teams both play in the USSDA.

How much money have you spent in the three previous years on Designated Players (transfer fees and salary)? How much are you spending on Designated Players this year?

This information is confidential. However, over the years, we have signed established international players such as Marco Di Vaio, Ignacio Piatti, Didier Drogba, Laurent Ciman, Alessandro Nesta and, more recently, Blerim Dzemaili (July).

How much TAM have you spent since its inception in the middle of 2015 (including this year)?

This information is confidential.

How would you describe your investment in and use of data analytics? How many full-time analytics employees do you have?

Since 2014, we have had a full-time person for data analytics. We have one performance analyst full time.

Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season?

Our jersey sponsor is BMO (Banque de Montréal). The amount is confidential.

Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season? How big is your budget for presenting local TV broadcasts? Do your broadcasters travel on the road for local TV broadcasts?

All 34 Montreal Impact games are on TVA Sports this year, which is also the official French broadcaster of MLS. Furthermore, some Impact games are also broadcast locally, in English, on TSN and CTV.

The club’s partnership with TVA Sports is part of a larger agreement that includes an important telecommunications component, with notably sister company Vidéotron as the official telecom provider.

Every televised home game on TVA Sports has a full crew. As for away matches, one sideline reporter travels to all road games (English and French).

All 34 games are also broadcast live on the radio, in French and English, on Montreal’s leading radio stations.

How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?

The club currently has a total of 130 full-time employees: half are with the technical department and half are administrative employees.

What other sorts of details should we know about your club that are a good barometer of the club’s ambition?

The club always strives to place the team in the best possible environment for success.

On top of the usual coaching staff and athletic therapists, we also have a technical staff that includes a nutritionist, a mental strength coach and a chef. All regularly travel with the team.

Last year, our groundskeeper was with the team throughout the team’s training camp to make sure the pitch was in the best conditions.

We have a medical staff composed of 10 professionals, including a Head of therapy and rehabilitation hired this year to supervise, standardize and coordinate the approach with all our teams.

A videographer also travels to every road game.

Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: New England Revolution

Friday March 3rd, 2017

How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?

The club has spent $4.5 million on youth development over the past five years and approximately $1 million over the past year.

How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team?

The club has signed three homegrown players and every one of them has played in MLS league games for the first team. In all season competitions, the three players have seen a total of 21,705 minutes of playing time–Scott Caldwell (10,721 total minutes played), Diego Fagundez (10,725 total minutes played) and Zach Herivaux (259 total minutes played).

How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2016?

The number of Revolution season ticket members has doubled over the past four years; however, the club does not disclose specific numbers.

Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost?

The Revolution first team trains on a dedicated grass field. Team also has access to team-owned indoor turf field on-site. Team facilities are built into Gillette Stadium so exact costs are not available.

Did your team build its own stadium? If yes, how much money did the team spend on the stadium?

Gillette Stadium was privately built. The stadium originally cost $325 million and additional funds have been spent on significant upgrades since then.             

Do you have a USL affiliate? How big is your budget this year for your USL team?

The Revolution does not have its own USL team, but we do have a budget for USL players and related expenses.

How much money have you spent in the three previous years on Designated Players (transfer fees and salary)? How much are you spending on Designated Players this year?

In the past three seasons the club has spent over $7 million on Designated Players. The club currently has two Designated Players on the roster–Kei Kamara and Xavier Kouassi–with additional DP spend TBD until the end of the summer.

How much TAM have you spent since its inception in the middle of 2015 (including this year)?

$1.6 million

How would you describe your investment in and use of data analytics? How many full-time analytics employees do you have?

The Revolution are among the league leaders in our use of data and analytics. The club has had a full-time team data analyst for six seasons along with two additional staff members who work on data and analytics and we invest heavily in technology and systems. This season we will also be implementing a new player and ball tracking system utilizing Second Spectrum technology, which is currently used by the NBA. The Revolution will be the first MLS team ever to use this technology.

Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season?

United Healthcare is our jersey sponsor and it’s a multi-faced partnership; however we do not disclose partnership investment figures.

Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season? How big is your budget for presenting local TV broadcasts? Do your broadcasters travel on the road for local TV broadcasts?

All Revolution games are broadcast on CSN New England and feature a 30 minute post-game show. The club invests over $1 million in presenting local TV broadcasts and our broadcasters travel to every away match (including national TV matches as they call local radio). CSN New England also produces a bi-weekly news magazine show.

How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?

The Revolution have 80 employees working in the front office dedicated solely to the club. There are approximately 12 Kraft Group employees who are also focused on the Revolution. 15 new full time staff members were added in the past year.

What other sorts of details should we know about your club that are a good barometer of the club’s ambition? 

The club has been and continues to be committed to building a soccer stadium in the urban core of Boston. While the club cannot comment on specifics, a project is currently in process and the goal is to build one of the best venues in the league in terms of both location and quality of the stadium.

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Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: New York City FC

Friday March 3rd, 2017

How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?

We do not share financial information.

New York City FC is deeply invested in developing local youth talent. In our inaugural season, we developed the New York City FC Academy. With close ties to the City Football Academy in Manchester, home to sister Club, Manchester City FC, the New York City FC Academy further benefits from the technology and resources across the City Football network.

In February 2017, New York City FC announced that it will be expanding its Academy for the 2017-18 season.

In addition to NYCFC current U-14 and U-16 academy teams, the Academy will be expanded into the U-12, U-13, U-15 and U-19 levels of competition.

On February 27, 2017, NYCFC announced its new Girls Soccer Academy.

How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team?

We are yet to sign a player directly from our Academy. 16-year-old James Sands trained with the team during preseason and played in a number of preseason matches. 

How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2016?

At the end of our inaugural season, we had more than 20,000 season ticket holders (Founding Members) and averaged over 29,000 fans at our home games at Yankee Stadium. The attendance of our home opener was 43,507 and our highest attendance of the season was 48,047 versus the New York Red Bulls.

We finished the 2016 season with over 18,000 season ticket holders.

Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost?

Our First Team currently trains on the campus of SUNY Purchase in Purchase, New York.

In October 2016, NYCFC announced plans to move into its new, permanent training facility, the City Football Academy.

Located on a 17-acre site in Orangeburg, New York, our home will be the center of NYCFC’s footballing operations.

The plans consist of one and a half regulation-sized grass fields, as well as a 25,000 square foot building, housing the team offices, space for player rehabilitation and welfare, amongst other amenities.

Designed by Rafael Viñoly, the architect responsible for Manchester City FC and Melbourne City FC’s City Football Academy facilities, our new training facility in Rockland County is due to be completed in early 2018.

In line with NYCFC’s community approach, the Club will make a donation for program and facility improvements to youth affiliate World Class FC (OMM Soccer), based in Orangeburg.

Approval for building on this former STEJ site on Old Orangeburg Road, which has been vacant and unused for more than a decade, was given in July 2016 by the Orangeburg Planning Board.

Did your team build its own stadium? If yes, how much money did the team spend on the stadium?

N/A

Do you have a USL affiliate? How big is your budget this year for your USL team?

N/A

How much money have you spent in the three previous years on Designated Players (transfer fees and salary)? How much are you spending on Designated Players this year?

We do not disclose financial information above and beyond that which is available from public sources.

How much TAM have you spent since its inception in the middle of 2015 (including this year)?

We do not disclose financial information.

How would you describe your investment in and use of data analytics? How many full-time analytics employees do you have?

New York City FC believes that technology has a crucial role to play in training and preparation. The club captures a range of data to optimize player performance, increase player efficiency and analyze team performance. 

Through a strategic global partnership with SAP, New York City FC and City Football Group are co-innovating on new technological enhancements in the areas of talent management, football performance and human performance.

Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season?

Etihad Airways. We do not disclose partnership investment figures.

Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season? How big is your budget for presenting local TV broadcasts? Do your broadcasters travel on the road for local TV broadcasts?

YES is the exclusive regional TV home of NYCFC.  

YES will televise 21 NYCFC matches (including two preseason games), all of which will also be streamed live via the FOX Sports GO app to authenticated YES viewers whose operators have streaming deals with YES. 18 of these 21 matches will air live; the remaining three on delay.  

NYCFC will also have 15 of its regular season matches aired on national broadcast.

How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?

NYCFC has approximately 100 front office employees.

What other sorts of details should we know about your club that are a good barometer of the club’s ambition?

In the summer of 2016, NYCFC–and partners from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, US Soccer Foundation and adidas–launched the New York City Soccer Initiative. This is a first of its kind public-private partnership to build, maintain and program 50 community soccer fields in underserved neighborhoods across the five boroughs over the next five years. The announcement came with a pledge to invest $3 million to build and maintain the fields, and provide free programming for New York school children.

NYCFC is deeply committed to working with the community of New York and its surrounding areas. ‘City in the Community,’ the charity proudly supported by NYCFC, serves over 4,000 youth each week through the power of soccer. Programs address social issues affecting New York City including: health, education, and crime prevention.

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Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: New York Red Bulls

Friday March 3rd, 2017

How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?

In the last five years, the club has significantly increased its spends on youth development. The organization has added additional youth levels, from pre-academy teams up to the creation of New York Red Bulls II in the USL.

The club has added training field and built an academy-specific building at the Red Bulls Training Facility, housing locker rooms, training rooms, and coaches offices. The academy teams are fully funded, and the Red Bulls continuously work on coaching development as well. 

The club has definitely had a renewed emphasis on signing that youth going back to the 2015 season, with the signings of players like Sean Davis (December 2014) and Tyler Adams (February 2015). The club has also transitioned another player, Matt Miazga, from academy through his first professional years, seen him get identified by the U.S. national team and cap-tied, and sold to one of the largest clubs in the world.

How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team?

16 – not including two current rookies, 8 of the 14 have appeared in MLS regular season, including all non-rookies on current roster.

How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2016?

The club continues to see year-over-year increases in RED Memberships, with a 10% increase from this time last year.

Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost?

The team trains at the Red Bulls Training Facility in East Hanover, N.J. The club built the training facility.

Did your team build its own stadium? If yes, how much money did the team spend on the stadium?

The Red Bulls play at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. Red Bull privately funded the stadium.

Do you have a USL affiliate? How big is your budget this year for your USL team?

The club has invested significantly in its USL team, highlighted by the renovation of facilities at Montclair State University, the team’s new home.

How much money have you spent in the three previous years on Designated Players (transfer fees and salary)? How much are you spending on Designated Players this year?

Information not disclosed.

How much TAM have you spent since its inception in the middle of 2015 (including this year)?

Information not disclosed.

How would you describe your investment in and use of data analytics? How many full-time analytics employees do you have?

The club highly values analytics and data. The club has a full-time performance analyst and added a part-time role this offseason as well.

Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season?

Red Bull is the jersey sponsor. The club has a separate training top sponsor, Yanmar.

Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season? How big is your budget for presenting local TV broadcasts? Do your broadcasters travel on the road for local TV broadcasts?

19 on local TV with our long-time partner MSG Networks. MSG Broadcasters call the away games from studio. The team produces its own English and Spanish radio broadcasts – English travels and calls all games, Spanish radio calls road games from the MSG studio while also providing the SAP broadcast for MSG.

How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?

The club continues to grow each year. This growth is taking place in all areas of the business, from operations and grounds crew, to ticket sales and sponsorship, academy and youth training programs staff, etc.

What other sorts of details should we know about your club that are a good barometer of the club’s ambition? 

The club is actively pursuing a naming rights deal for Red Bull Arena. The club is being very selective about potential partners, and has the benefit of only agreeing to a lucrative, beneficial partnership.

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Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: Orlando City SC

Friday March 3rd, 2017

How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?

Orlando City fields Pro Academy squads for U-9 to U-18 age groups. The Pro Academy is fully funded so players do not have to pay any fees or dues to play. Several players have received call-ups to U.S. youth national team camps and games, including Jordan Bender, Joe Gallardo, David Loera and others. The Academy shares our training facility with OCB and the First Team and we recently signed Pierre Da Silva, our first player to go from the Academy to OCB in the USL to the First Team. 

How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team? 

Tommy Redding, Harrison Heath, Tyler Turner and Mason Stajduhar. Tommy is a regular call-up to the U.S. U-20 team and Mason is a very promising young goalkeeper that has been with our first team since 2015 and has played for U.S. youth teams. (per Niki Budalic, general manager)

How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2016? 

We capped season tickets at 18,000 in 2016 and used the same cap of 18,000 for this season. (per Chris Gallagher, Senior VP of Sales) 

Did your team build its own stadium? If yes, how much money did the team spend on the stadium?

The $155 million cost of Orlando City Stadium is 100% privately funded.

How would you describe your investment in and use of data analytics? How many full-time analytics employees do you have?

We have one full-time performance (video) analyst who supports the first team and manages statistics. We are currently reviewing the feasibility of additional investment in data analytics. (per Dennis Sprenkle, Director of Human Resources)

Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How big is your budget for presenting local TV broadcasts? Do your broadcasters travel on the road for local TV broadcasts?

All games that are not nationally televised are broadcast locally on TV 27 WRDQ. All our local broadcasts are produced in HD by a production company that handles some of the biggest soccer events in the US. It’s a first-class production. Broadcast sometimes travel for local broadcasts, but not every game (per Rob Parker, VP of Corporate Partnerships) 

How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year? 

There are currently 84 full-time front office employees plus an additional 44 employees who work in the soccer operations department, split among the 3 teams. We have added staff to support the Stadium, Orlando Pride and OCB. (per Sprenkle)

What other sorts of details should we know about your club that are a good barometer of the club’s ambition? 

The Club moved to Orlando in 2011 and quickly won the heart of the city of Orlando. Overwhelming success on and off the pitch propelled City to MLS in 2015 and the Club consistently had the second-highest attendance in MLS at over 30,000. In 2016, the Club launched Orlando Pride in the NWSL and Orlando City B in the USL. The Club committed to privately financing its 25,500-seat downtown stadium, which will open in March 2017. Orlando City already has a fully functioning U.S. Soccer Development Academy, showing its commitment to winning and growing the game of soccer in Orlando. 

Orlando City is also incredibly involved in the community. The Orlando City Foundation works with youth in underserved communities and the homeless. After the June 12, 2016 massacre at Pulse nightclub, the Lions led the charge in uniting the community with the design and sale of #OrlandoUnited T-shirts, the proceeds of which (over $390,000) all went to the OneOrlando Fund. The Lions hosted the #OrlandoUnited game on June 18 and, for the first time in history, the match was paused in the 49th minute in honor of the 49 victims. 

The Orlando City brand is known around the world, largely thanks to the popularity of Kaka, but also because of the incredible fan support in the city. Orlando City matches are televised live in over 140 countries. According to Forbes, Orlando City has the fifth-most Facebook likes and third-most followers on Twitter and Instagram in the league. The Club's merchandise sales are also among the top four in the league. Orlando City was also ranked the ninth-most valuable club in the Americas by Forbes Mexico in March. 

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Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: Philadelphia Union

Friday March 3rd, 2017

How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?

Youth development is a critical part of our organization and we continue to increase our investment in this area each year, spending a total of $20 million over the past five seasons, a figure representative of our commitment. We own and operate the YSC Academy, the first-of-its-kind soccer-specific high school. In its fourth academic year, the class of 2017 will be its third graduating class. We have 75 students enrolled full-time in the school, with most playing for the Philadelphia Union Academy.

From U-12 to U-18, the Philadelphia Union Academy is completely free of cost for players (the YSC Academy school is not free to all, but financial aid is available). Our comprehensive development program features a full-time Sport Scientist, Sport Psychologist, Athletic Development Trainer and a dedicated full time coach at each Academy age group. We have also recently created an innovative pre-academy program for Zone 1 children, which features scheduled multisport activity, the first club to do so.

How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team?

At this moment we have two Homegrowns currently under contract with our first team: Auston Trusty and Derrick Jones. We expect both to make significant impact on the field in the near future. Besides them, we will have a total of about five Homegrowns (with contracts) playing for our USL team, Bethlehem Steel FC.

How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2016?

We have 10,000 season ticket holders this season and have already surpassed total revenue from season tickets (Full and Partial) from 2016. A great number of them have been with us from the start. New Season Ticket Members echo one big reason—they’ve been to a match and enjoyed the overall Union experience and want to be a part of it.  Another important reason is that we listen to our supporters. Our Fan Council helps guide and inspire our game presentation, plus we take to heart and respond to every letter or call from our supporters and always strive to create an extraordinary game experience.

Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost?

We train at the Power Training Complex in Chester, which is adjacent to our stadium and our offices. We did build the facility ourselves, putting in two Bermuda grass practice fields adjacent to Talen Energy Stadium. We also used what used to be the machine shop of the vintage power plant that has been turned into extraordinary Class A office space by our ownership, transforming it into a high-end 16,500 square foot training facility for the team. We kept the 1920’s brick façade and incorporated elements of the iron and brick interior like an 800-pound iron door to our locker room. Despite this vintage theming, the facility’s contents are absolutely state-of-the-art, including: an expansive weight training and exercise area, technologically advanced video theatee, players’ and coaches’ lockers and showers, a full weight area, a hydrotherapy suite, hot and cold tubs, an underwater treadmill, shower and infrared sauna.

Did your team build its own stadium? If yes, how much money did the team spend on the stadium?

Talen Energy Stadium was built in 2010 for our inaugural season and cost in excess of $120 million.

Do you have a USL affiliate? How big is your budget this year for your USL team?

Bethlehem Steel FC was founded prior to last season and has been a critical part of our “Path to the Pros,” an initiative that we believe in and allocate significant funds to. We signed two Homegrown Players last season, Derrick Jones and Auston Trusty, after they each made significant contributions with Steel FC.

How much money have you spent in the three previous years on Designated Players (transfer fees and salary)? How much are you spending on Designated Players this year?

We have recently increased our investiture in Designated Players through the high-profile acquisition of United States international Alejandro Bedoya, who came from Ligue 1 last summer. He is our second current DP, joining Maurice Edu.

How much TAM have you spent since its inception in the middle of 2015 (including this year)?

Since TAM has been a league mechanism, we have spent all of the TAM available to us. Examples of players acquired using this mechanism are Ilsinho, Roland Alberg, Jay Simpson and Haris Medunjanin.

How would you describe your investment in and use of data analytics? How many full-time analytics employees do you have?

We believe wholeheartedly in the value of analytics and how it can guide us in what we do. Our investment continues to grow and will be in six figures for the 2017 season, plus the personnel to evaluate it with our technical staff, to enhance our training and in-game performance. On the business side, we have two full-time analytics front office employees.

Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season?

Bimbo is our jersey sponsor, a proud partner of ours that has been with us since the 2011 season. Our sponsorship revenue continues to grow as we have added 15 new sponsors this season alone.

Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season? How big is your budget for presenting local TV broadcasts? Do your broadcasters travel on the road for local TV broadcasts?

All of our non-nationally televised matches are broadcast on local television, between 6abc, Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia and The Comcast Network. Our broadcast team consists of the highly respected JP Dellacamera and Tommy Smyth, and while they do not travel for road matches, their quality is indicative of the priority we place on a good local broadcast experience for our fans.

How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?

We have 95 front office employees in 2017, which is 30 more than the previous year (65 in 2016).

What other sorts of details should we know about your club that are a good barometer of the club’s ambition? 

We believe that we should invest heavily in the American player and our Academy. Youth development is crucial for our club in creating a pipeline for soccer players to enter and achieve as they go through the Philadelphia Union system. Our goal is to have the very best system in MLS and rival other great clubs throughout the world. We are totally committed to building something very special. Ownership is committed to building this sustainable model and have poured their money, intellect and passion into it. We have a network of coaches and scouts who not only search for the very best in the talent-rich Greater Philadelphia Region, but we want to let young athletes know that wherever they come from, being a part of our Philadelphia Union Academy, they will be able to learn the game and grow in an extraordinary environment. Guided by an accomplished, internationally diverse technical staff, we are creating an amazing system that will give aspiring soccer players every opportunity to thrive and achieve their full potential.

On the business side, we create amazing relationships with our growing number of corporate partners. We take great pride in activating with them, to enable them to get the very most in return for every dollar they spend in support of Philadelphia Union. Many of them have been with us from the start and continue to renew their sponsorships because of that commitment we make every day. Our goal is to sell out Talen Energy Stadium for every match within five years.

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Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: Portland Timbers

Friday March 3rd, 2017

How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?

The club doubled down on youth development spending in 2014 and 2015 (with the hiring of youth technical director Larry Sunderland), and has increased its spending significantly since that point. The club now loses a net of $4 million a year between its youth development programs and its USL club, T2 ($3 million on youth development, $1 million on T2). Youth development is a focal point for the club, and it will continue to increase this investment each year with the goal of consistently producing players that contribute to the first team each year from 2020 on.

The club significantly increased spending at its development levels in the past year, realizing its first Homegrown Player (Marco Farfan, 18) to sign directly from the club’s Academy and T2 programs, while also seeing a host of young players ascend through the ranks of its two-year-old T2 USL affiliate, with the additions of Victor Arboleda (20), Rennico Clarke (21) and Kendall McIntosh (23) to the first-team roster in 2017.

Additionally, the club is investing in a significant expansion to its Academy facilities to accommodate the further growth of the club, and has steadily increased spending in its youth development staff and robust youth partnerships across its territory.

How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team?

With a growing Academy now just over four years into its existence, the club has signed three Homegrown Players to date–including Timbers Academy product Marco Farfan, who signed with the Timbers on Oct. 14, 2016, as the youngest player-signing in the club’s MLS history (17 years of age). The club has a goal of producing one new Homegrown Player each year who will contribute to the first team from 2020 on and have a pipeline of prospects in its youth development system, which currently features a host of young talent in the likes of players Blake Bodily, Terrell Lowe and Adrian Villegas, among others. Additionally the club has signed three players from its T2 USL affiliate ahead of the 2017 season (Arboleda, Clarke, McIntosh).

How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2016?

The Timbers once again capped season tickets at 15,800 (same total as 2016) for the 2017 season and have a waiting list of more than 13,000 fans. The club has sold out every regular-season and playoff home game since joining MLS, a streak of 107 games and counting as the 2017 season begins. The Timbers have led the league in season ticket renewal rates every year of their MLS tenure, have set the league’s highest renewal rates in history five times and are actively exploring expansion to the stadium to increase capacity.

In addition to the Timbers, Portland Thorns FC (NWSL) have a season-ticket base of more than 10,000 fans heading into the 2017 NWSL season after averaging 17,000 fans per game in 2016, eclipsing their previous league record and ranking as the best-attended women’s club in the world.

Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost?

Club-built Adidas Timbers Training Center, located approximately 10 minutes from Providence Park. The club’s total investment in building and developing its training facilities to date is more than $10 million.

Did your team build its own stadium? If yes, how much money did the team spend on the stadium?

The Timbers play at the municipally owned Providence Park, an historic venue originally constructed in 1926 and transformed for MLS prior to the club’s inaugural season in 2011. Since being awarded the league’s 18th team in 2009, the club has invested more than $60 million in improvements to Providence Park. The club continues to explore a $50 million renovation concept that would transform the east side of the venue and increase capacity by approximately 4,000 fans.

Do you have a USL affiliate? How big is your budget this year for your USL team? 

The total budget for the entire T2 program is approaching $2 million and the club is investing heavily in its USL club, including staff, players, travel, operations, housing, broadcast and business expenses. With revenue applied against this, the club operates at a deficit of approximately $1 million, but the cost of development is necessary for the club’s continued growth and success.

How much money have you spent in the three previous years on Designated Players (transfer fees and salary)? How much are you spending on Designated Players this year?

The club has consistently featured its full complement of three Designated Players and has made significant investments in these players in the form of transfer fees and salary. Transfer fees have been spent on Fanendo Adi, Lucas Melano and Sebastián Blanco over the last three years.

How much TAM have you spent since its inception in the middle of 2015 (including this year)?

The Timbers have used TAM on a number of key core players since its inception, including Adi, Diego Chara, Darlington Nagbe and Liam Ridgewell. The club has made full use of its allotted TAM money, and the club’s utilization of these resources on important core players who were instrumental in the club lifting its first MLS trophy in 2015 is a great example of TAM’s value in strengthening its roster. 

How would you describe your investment in and use of data analytics? How many full-time analytics employees do you have?

The Timbers place increasing value on data analytics and currently utilize a number of different systems that gives the club the necessary information it needs to analyze player performance. The club currently has two data analysts on staff, which is among the highest in MLS.

Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season?

Alaska Airlines. The club doesn’t disclose sponsor revenue but has consistently been in the top three clubs in MLS in total sponsor revenue.

Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season? How big is your budget for presenting local TV broadcasts? Do your broadcasters travel on the road for local TV broadcasts?

In addition to at least 14 nationally televised games in 2017, the club’s remaining games will be televised, on ROOT Sports and KPTV FOX 12. These broadcasts feature a 30-minute postgame show, and the club’s broadcast package includes a highly rated weekly magazine show on KPTV FOX 12, “Timbers in 30.” In 2016, the Timbers had the highest local TV ratings in the league. The Timbers have one of the most favorable local TV deals in the league, featuring a five-state footprint and production quality among the best in the league. The club was honored as MLS Broadcast Team of the Year in 2014 and has fostered the growth of top broadcast talent, including John Strong and Robbie Earle, who both went from the club to prominent national broadcast positions following their work with the Timbers. The club controls all inventory as part of its broadcast deal, and all local broadcast media is sold in-house. The broadcast team travels to road games for regional/local broadcasts.

How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?

119 full-time employees (i.e. with benefits); up about 15 employees from last year.

What other sorts of details should we know about your club that are a good barometer of the club’s ambition?

There are several points to be made in terms of the club’s overall ambition, including how unique the Timbers and Thorns FC brands have been for the growth of soccer in the United States over the last six years, but below are two specific areas of focus:

The Timbers were the fifth-highest spending team in MLS on first-team talent for both the 2015 and 2016 seasons, with a considerable gap over the group of teams behind them. While Toronto, NYCFC, LA Galaxy, etc. have been in the “high-spender” category, it is not accurate to group the Timbers in with a second tier. The club has consistently had three Designated Players and has invested considerably in the transfer market, including significant transfer expenditures for Chara, Diego Valeri, Adi, Melano and Blanco.

While this is an MLS-focused survey, Portland Thorns FC deserve to be a big factor in terms of the club’s ambitions. The club’s investment in the women’s game and the Thorns position as the gold standard for women’s club soccer is a reflection of its overall ambition as a soccer club, not just a men’s soccer club.

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Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: Real Salt Lake

Friday March 3rd, 2017

How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?

RSL’s academy setup for the last several years has centered on a well-documented partnership with Grande Sports Academy in Casa Grande, AZ. Under the guidance of Martin Vasquez, RSL teams have advanced to and won regional and national titles in both the U-16 and U-18 USSDA/Generation adidas/Dallas Cup tourneys. The estimated 5-year outlay for this program would be high seven figures.

In April, 2016, RSL Owner Dell Loy Hansen announced that the club would build a $50 million training facility 20 minutes southwest of Rio Tinto Stadium in Herriman, an eight-field indoor/outdoor complex which would become the daily training home of RSL (MLS), Real Monarchs (USL), as well as the club’s U-18 and U-16 academy teams.

The Arizona-based academy program–including Vasquez’ staff–will relocate to Utah late Summer 2017, with an anticipated December 2017 move for RSL and Monarchs from Rio Tinto Stadium to the Herriman campus.

Additionally, the campus would house a 5,000-seat stadium for Real Monarchs’ regular-season games, a future NWSL women’s team, and local college/high school use, amongst other programming. The Herriman campus will also be the site of a 300-student “STEM” charter school (Science/Technology/Engineering/Math; although we joke about the “S” standing for Soccer) for local boys and girls, including the club’s academy players. Dormitory-style housing is planned for the academy teams, which will grow to three next year when the U-14 class is added.

How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team?

The current USA U-20 roster selected by Tab Ramos boasts a 25% composition of RSL homegrown products–Justen Glad, Danny Acosta, Sebastian Saucedo and Brooks Lennon, all under RSL contract in 2017, as well as Academy player Aaron Herrera, currently a University of New Mexico defender.

In addition to those four players, RSL’s 2017 MLS roster includes an additional four homegrowns–GK Lalo Hernandez, FW Jordan Allen, M/F Ricardo Velazco and MF Jose Hernandez, recently signed from a two-year UCLA career that saw him claim co-Pac 12 Player of the Year honors in 2016.

Since 2011, the club has signed the following 20 HG players to either RSL or Monarchs contracts:

Donny Toia, Nico Muniz, Lalo Fernandez, Carlos Salcedo, Mikey Orellana, Benji Lopez, Jordan Allen, Justen Glad, Sebastian Saucedo, Phanuel Kavita, Fito Ovalle, Ricardo Velazco, Eti Tavares, Coco Navarro, Christian Herrera, Brooks Lennon, Edgar Duran, Andrew Brody, Danny Acosta and Jose Hernandez.

As we enter 2017, five players from the above list have logged MLS first-team minutes: Salcedo, Allen, Glad, Saucedo and Kavita. Lennon, Acosta and Velazco should see time with RSL this year, while both Lalo and Jose Hernandez currently occupy RSL roster spots.

Our first HG signing, Donny Toia, has developed into a reliable MLS player, after rising through the minor leagues after being released by RSL in 2011. DF Carlos Salcedo played sparingly in MLS behind RSL’s center back combinations of Borchers, Olave and Schuler in 2013-14, but has found international success at Chivas de Guadalajara and Fiorentina.

Several players from the list–Fernandez, Orellana, Ovalle, Tavares, Navarro, Duran and Brody–saw significant USL minutes with the Real Monarchs in 2015 and/or 2016, while Saucedo (Veracruz) and Herrera (Pachuca) spent last year on loan. Brody starts 2017 on the Real Monarchs roster and impressed in RSL’s 2017 early preseason.

An additional four players once called the club’s Arizona academy home–Romain Gall, Eriq Zavaleta, Tony Cascio and Nick DeLeon–but due to ever-shifting MLS rules, RSL was not granted their HG rights. A fifth, FW Ben Spencer, had his rights traded to Toronto FC.

How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2016?

RSL expects to arrive at approximately 14,000 “Royalty” members by the May 1, 2017 cutoff for season-ticket sales, which would be down about 1,000 from a year ago. Most of the attrition is due to RSL consolidating and controlling the secondary market by pulling nearly 600 season tickets from local brokers, who were undercutting per-game pricing in the past.

Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost?

RSL will continue to train at America First Field in Sandy–only 1/2 mile from Rio Tinto Stadium–for the sixth consecutive season in 2017, prior to moving to the club’s Herriman facility next season. The ground, about 1 1/2 regulation fields–was built next to Sandy City Hall for high six figures back in 2011.

Did your team build its own stadium? If yes, how much money did the team spend on the stadium?

Rio Tinto Stadium opened in October, 2008, as part of a reported $110 million private-public partnership. Since that time, the Sandy venue has undergone numerous upgrades and improvements, including enhanced premium seating options, an all-you-can-eat section, a massive video display installation and a solar-panel array in surrounding lots. For 2017, the Audi Executive Club opens on the East Side concourse level at midfield, an exclusive business-to-business networking opportunity for the region’s professionals.

Do you have a USL affiliate? How big is your budget this year for your USL team?

With the addition of Mike Petke as head coach for the Real Monarchs and the expansion of the club's USL staff to include former Wilmington coaches Mark Briggs and Matt Glaeser, as well as former RSL defender Jamison Olave, the growth of the Monarchs increases each year. We estimate a 20% increase in expenses in support of this critical connection piece between our Academy and the first team, not including the club’s Herriman Training Center development.

How much money have you spent in the three previous years on Designated Players (transfer fees and salary)? How much are you spending on Designated Players this year?

Information not disclosed.

How much TAM have you spent since its inception in the middle of 2015 (including this year)?

Information not disclosed.

How would you describe your investment in and use of data analytics? How many full-time analytics employees do you have?

RSL’s first data analyst was hired midway through last season, although both of the club’s sports science hires this past winter rely heavily on data-based performance and training analytics as well. RSL has also hired a second full-time scout, as former NY Cosmos player/scout Dane Murphy was hired recently to join long-time MLS veteran and former RSL assistant coach Andy Williams, who has been with the club since Nov., 2004 in some capacity as player, coach and now scout. 

Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season?

For the fourth consecutive year, RSL’s jersey-front partner is LifeVantage. Our May 1, 2017, projections for club sponsorships should exceed $14.5 million.

Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season? How big is your budget for presenting local TV broadcasts? Do your broadcasters travel on the road for local TV broadcasts?

For 2017, all 33 of RSL’s 34 non-National English-language TV games will air locally. For the 13th consecutive season, RSL’s games will air on free, over-the-air TV in Utah, with the 3-hour game window also running live in Boise, ID; Reno and Las Vegas, NV for a third straight year. RSL’s partner at the Sinclair-owned American Sports Network produces the game (approximately $40,000/game) and assumes roughly 50% of the cost while donating the airtime on the syndicated affiliates and allowing RSL to own 90% of the commercial inventory. Our broadcasters, David James (play by play) and Brian Dunseth (analyst) travel for each road contest.

While RSL has provided our fans with both English- and Spanish-language radio since the club’s inception in 2005, RSL will offer our TV games in Spanish for the first time ever in 2017 on UniMás Utah, which will also boast a 30-minute Saturday morning RSL magazine show on over-the-air Univision 32 each week, one featuring former RSL DF Jamison Olave, now an assistant coach on Mike Petke’s Monarchs staff as well as color analyst in Spanish on the club’s radio/TV broadcasts.

How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?

The club’s front office includes approximately 80 full-time employees, growing slightly in the past year overall, with the majority of additions on the soccer side of the business. The Real Monarchs USL staff has grown, as has the club’s sports science, scouting, video and data analytics departments which support both the MLS and USL sides, as well as the Academy and youth development initiatives.

What other sorts of details should we know about your club that are a good barometer of the club’s ambition?

In November, on a parallel path to the club’s campus in Herriman, Hansen broke ground on the first of a half-dozen “regional training centers” in North Logan, UT. Each $5 million RTC houses a classroom, as well as an indoor and outdoor field, dedicated to fulfilling a curriculum consistent with the club's vision and mission for youth soccer training and education, and the continued development of both recreational and competitive pre-Academy (ages 7-12) initiatives across Utah and Arizona. Future locations coming online in next 2-3 years are expected to be Ogden, West Valley, Orem, St. George and a pair of Arizona locations TBD.

One of the primary objectives of these centers–working closely with our Community and Camps foundations for youth soccer education and opportunity covering players, coaches, clubs and referees–is to provide opportunity for former players who wish to remain in the area to serve as coaches/ambassadors after their MLS/USL playing days are over. Imagine the aspirational power of guys like Kyle Beckerman or Chris Wingert honing the skills of boys and girls ages 7-12 in various areas of the game, both on the field and in the classroom!

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Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: San Jose Earthquakes

Friday March 3rd, 2017

How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?

The Quakes fully fund all their academy teams and also funds the entire roster for the Burlingame Dragons PDL team. Additionally, we have a Youth Club with 50 boys teams and 30 girls teams based in San Jose. The youth program includes five Regional Development Schools that serve as ID camps. The RDS’s are located all over the Bay Area so that we can identify the best young talent in the Bay Area. We also host trainings called the Center of Excellence to bring in as many youth players as possible for training programs. This helps us identify more players in the area.

We currently pushing for a $30-40 million dollar youth complex in San Jose. Ownership has committed to building the complex and we are working through the city processes right now.

How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team?

Two: Tommy Thompson and Nick Lima. Tommy has played and Nick Lima looks likely to start in his rookie year. Tommy played for the U.S. U-20 team at the past FIFA U-20 World Cup. He may also win a starting role this year. We have 3-4 collegiate players that all could be homegrown signings, including U.S. U-20 goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski.

How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2016?

We had 12,000 in 2017. We had 13,000 in 2016, but we chose to lower that number because we had a higher percentage of tickets sold than we wanted last season. We wanted more group and individual ticket buyers to attend to increase our fan base long term.

Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost?

The training field is next to the stadium. We built it in 2010. We use our stadium locker room and weight room as the facility. The home locker room features a meal room and we give the players breakfast and lunch every day and we have the gym available for players at all times. We have training field, stadium and team offices all at the same location. This is the best possible set-up.

Did your team build its own stadium? If yes, how much money did the team spend on the stadium?

Yes, a 100% privately financed, $100 million stadium. One of a handful of stadiums in MLS that had zero public dollars put toward the project. We own the stadium and the land.

Do you have a USL affiliate? How big is your budget this year for your USL team?

Between $750,000-1,000,000. We pay for the roster and coaches at Reno 1868 along with some other costs.

How much money have you spent in the three previous years on Designated Players (transfer fees and salary)? How much are you spending on Designated Players this year?

For 2015 and 2016, we had three designated players both years for the first time in team history. We currently have two DPs on the roster and we are planning to add a high-profile DP in the summer transfer window. Jesse Fioranelli, our new GM, believed that there would be better options in the summer to help us in the long term.

How much TAM have you spent since its inception in the middle of 2015 (including this year)?

We have spent a lot of TAM money. We had four TAM signings this past offseason, Marco Urena, Florian Jungwirth, Danny Hoesen and Jahmir Hyka.

How would you describe your investment in and use of data analytics? How many full-time analytics employees do you have?

We have two full-time employees that work on analysis and are adding a third very shortly. The candidate is already identified.

We also utilize Catapult, Match Analysis, Wyscout. We are currently integrating a proprietary app that all technical staff and players will have. That app includes video analysis, nutrition, communication tools and other information.

Considering all the technology in the Bay Area, we launched an Innovation Board last fall that includes members from Intel, Sony, Pandora, Tesla and Solar City. The board focuses on ideas for the technical side as well as the business side. We have begun integrating some new ideas and we will have some announcements in the near future.

Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season?

Sutter Health is our jersey sponsor and we earn over $10 million in commercial revenue.

Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season? How big is your budget for presenting local TV broadcasts? Do your broadcasters travel on the road for local TV broadcasts?

All non-national TV games are on local TV. We have a rights fee from Comcast SportsNet that is worth over $1 million a year. Broadcasters travel to road games.

How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?

85. We have added about 10-15 employees in the past year.

What other sorts of details should we know about your club that are a good barometer of the club’s ambition? 

A few other key details include the annual Stanford Game, spending on our technical staff and our youth soccer complex.

For the past five years, we have moved one game vs. the Galaxy to Stanford Stadium and have sold out the match at 50,000 people. There was not really a precedent for this since we started this match when we played at Buck Shaw Stadium and had a season ticket base of 5,000. It has now become one of the summer’s biggest sporting events in the Bay Area. 

With the hire of our new general manager, we now rank near the top of spending on technical staff in MLS. We have one of the highest paid GMs in Fioranelli, who came to MLS from Roma. Chris Leitch is a very experienced technical director and Dominic Kinnear is one of the highest paid coaches in MLS. Additionally, we will be announcing soon increased expenditures in scouting and analysis.

The youth complex is a very important project that we are working on. We have two options to build a new complex for all our youth teams. We have a location 1/4 mile from the stadium where we can build seven soccer fields for an investment of $30-40 million. It would include a permanent home for our academy teams and a place for international teams to train. We will also be able to have other local youth teams train and we can host tournaments. We recently have identified another potential site where we can build up to 14 fields, including two buildings. We are working through the city/county processes in both locations.

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Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: Seattle Sounders

Friday March 3rd, 2017

How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?

Sounders FC has more than doubled its financial investment in player development in the last two years, punctuated by the signing of four Homegrown Players in that span (including 2016 MLS Rookie of the Year Jordan Morris).

How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team?

Sounders FC has signed nine Homegrown Players in its history, including U.S. men's national team players Morris and DeAndre Yedlin. Six of those nine players have logged MLS minutes: Morris, Yedlin, Aaron Kovar, Vic Mansaray, Darwin Jones and Sean Okoli. Two others–Seyi Adekoya and Henry Wingo–were signed this past offseason and have not yet had the chance to play in MLS.

How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2016?

Sounders FC continues to lead MLS on the attendance front, having topped the league in average attendance every season in its history. 724,809 total fans attended Sounders matches at CenturyLink Field in 2016–nearly 200,000 fans more than the next-closest team. With a 2016 average attendance of 42,636, the club ranked second in the Americas amongst all reported professional clubs, keeping the Rave Green among the global top 30 in this category.

Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost?

Sounders FC trains at its Starfire Sports training complex in Tukwila, Washington. The facility pre-dates the club’s MLS launch, and the team has trained there since joining the league.

Did your team build its own stadium? If yes, how much money did the team spend on the stadium?

CenturyLink Field predates Sounders FC, but soccer played an integral role in the creation of the facility. CenturyLink has been the club’s home since its MLS inception.

Do you have a USL affiliate? How big is your budget this year for your USL team?

Sounders FC has more than doubled its financial investment in player development in the last two years, including the club’s USL side, S2. Following two seasons of USL play, six players have been signed to first team contracts from S2. 

How much money have you spent in the three previous years on Designated Players (transfer fees and salary)? How much are you spending on Designated Players this year?

Highlighted by last season’s addition of reigning MLS Newcomer of the Year Nicolas Lodeiro, Seattle has long been a destination for prominent Designated Players, including current forward and U.S. national team stalwart Clint Dempsey. Since 2009, Seattle has been home to 12 Designated Players.

How much TAM have you spent since its inception in the middle of 2015 (including this year)?

Sounders FC has used all of its existing TAM funds since the inception of that player acquisition mechanism. The club used TAM to sign Panama national team captain Roman Torres in 2015, in addition to retaining club captain and four-time MLS All-Star Osvaldo Alonso over the past two seasons.

How would you describe your investment in and use of data analytics? How many full-time analytics employees do you have?

Sounders FC is considered the standard-bearer in this area, led by High Performance Director Dave Tenney and five full-time sports science employees. The club’s sports science department was integral to the team’s 2016 MLS Cup efforts, and continues to help inform the scouting and player recruitment process. The club’s innovation in this space has been widely covered and continues to be a point of pride for the organization.

Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season?

XBOX has been the club’s primary shirt sponsor since Sounders FC’s MLS launch, and a committed partner in a number of successful and unique activations.

Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season? How big is your budget for presenting local TV broadcasts? Do your broadcasters travel on the road for local TV broadcasts?

Seattle offers perhaps the most comprehensive broadcast package of any club in MLS, and is one of the few remaining teams that travels television and radio productions to every non-nationally televised road contest.

Sounders FC is available throughout the region on free-to-air television via its partnership with Q13 FOX (and its affiliate JOEtv). Additionally, ROOT SPORTS is the out-of-market home of Sounders FC, delivering the club’s broadcasts to central and eastern Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. Additionally, a minimum of 10 matches air in Spanish on Univision-Seattle. The agreements with Q13 FOX and Univision-Seattle include various forms of shoulder programming throughout the season.

On the radio front, KIRO Radio 97.3 FM and El Rey 1360 AM are the English and Spanish-language homes of Sounders FC, respectively. Both radio affiliates carry weekly Sounders FC shoulder programs. A 60-minute Sounders FC-focused show airs on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM every Thursday evening throughout the season, with El Rey carrying a 30-minute weekly show–Somos Sounders FC–airing Saturday mornings at 10:30 a.m. PT.

How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?

Between the club’s Pioneer Square front office and its Starfire Sports technical staff, Sounders FC has over 100 full-time employees. Since moving business operations across Lake Washington from the Seahawks in April of 2014, the club has roughly doubled its headcount.

What other sorts of details should we know about your club that are a good barometer of the club’s ambition?  

On the heels of a defining moment in MLS Cup and the largest celebration in more than 40 years of Seattle soccer history, Sounders FC has been public about the club’s recently-formed vision for future success. Owner Adrian Hanauer addressed this club vision with The Seattle Times, while General Manager and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey discussed how the team’s soccer philosophy will support organizational growth in the years to come. 

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Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: Sporting Kansas City

Friday March 3rd, 2017

How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?

Sporting Kansas City has invested millions in its Academy, as chronicled in a recent feature story by The Kansas City Star. The Sporting KC Academy currently fields teams at the U-18, U-16, U-14, U-13 and U-12 age levels. The U-14 team won the U.S. Youth Soccer U-15 National Championship in 2015, while the U-18s and U-16s both advanced to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy playoffs last summer. All Academy teams train at state-of-the-art Swope Soccer Village.

How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team?

We have signed four Homegrown players: Jon Kempin, Kevin Ellis, Erik Palmer-Brown and Daniel Salloi. Palmer-Brown is currently the captain of the U.S. U-20 men’s national team, which is competing at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship this month and will [almost certainly] play at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in May. Kevin Ellis led MLS defenders in 2015 with five goals scored and has been a valuable contributor along the back line since 2014.

How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2016?

We currently have 14,000 season ticket members, the same number as in 2016. This is the fifth straight year we’ve capped our season ticket base, and we presently have a waiting list. We also have a season ticket renewal of more than 90% over the last four seasons. We have sold out 87 straight MLS matches and will be sold out for every league game in 2017, as well.

Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost?

The team currently trains at the state-of-the-art Sporting Kansas City Training Center at Swope Soccer Village, which houses nine fields (synthetic turf, bluegrass and native soil fields to allow for year-round competition) as well as an expanded office and workout complex. With three separate additions since it opened in 2007, it has cost $22 million.

In 2018, Sporting KC will move into the world-class National Training and Coaching Development Center, an $80 million facility that will open at the end of this year in Kansas City, Kansas, less than a mile away from Children’s Mercy Park. The NTCDC will also accommodate the Children’s Mercy Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center and the U.S. Soccer National Coaching Education Center. This will effectively make Kansas City the hub for youth athlete sports medicine services and overall soccer development in the United States.

Did your team build its own stadium? If yes, how much money did the team spend on the stadium?

Yes. Children’s Mercy Park opened in June 2011 at a cost of $200+ million.

Do you have a USL affiliate? How big is your budget this year for your USL team?

In addition to the Sporting KC Academy, the Swope Park Rangers are considered a valuable investment as the club tries to cultivate players from the youth to professional levels. The Rangers enjoyed a hugely successful first season in 2016, winning the USL Western Conference Championship and appearing in the USL Cup.

How much money have you spent in the three previous years on Designated Players (transfer fees and salary)? How much are you spending on Designated Players this year?

Over the last three years, we have signed three players who are currently Designated Players, or were DPs at the time of their signing but have since been bought down using TAM. Those players are Roger Espinoza (2015), Diego Rubio (2016) and Gerso Fernandes (2017). All three came to Kansas City from Europe, as Espinoza competed in England, Rubio played mostly in Portugal and Spain, and Fernandes played in Portugal.

Espinoza has made an impact not only on the field, but in a variety of charitable ways. He is an active member in The Victory Project, Sporting KC’s philanthropic arm, and traveled to his native Honduras in early 2016 to teach young kids soccer skills in underserved neighborhoods.

How much TAM have you spent since its inception in the middle of 2015 (including this year)?

We have used every single dollar of TAM since its inception. We have also used TAM to buy down a DP’s budget charge, as has been the case with Matt Besler, Dom Dwyer and Diego Rubio.

How would you describe your investment in and use of data analytics? How many full-time analytics employees do you have?

As a technology company, Sporting Club places great importance on the use of data analytics. We have one full-time technical staff member who specializes in on-field team/player analytics. We also have a full-time analytics employee on the business side who breaks down consumer data and translates it into useful information for the company. In addition, Sporting Club’s technology company Fan360 specializes in data collection, digital solutions and mobile experiences for our growing fan base.

Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season?

Ivy Investments is our jersey sponsor through 2022. Total income from sponsorships ranks in the top third of MLS clubs. The partnership between Sporting KC and Ivy Investments is multi-faceted and fully integrated, as Ivy sponsors not only Sporting KC but all Academy teams, the Swope Park Rangers, and is a naming rights partner for the Ivy Executive Level at Children’s Mercy Park.

Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season? How big is your budget for presenting local TV broadcasts? Do your broadcasters travel on the road for local TV broadcasts?

Local television will show 26 of our 34 games. The other eight will be televised nationally. Our new deal with FOX Sports Kansas City is worth $750,000 per season, and our budget for presenting local TV broadcasts has increased since last year. Our broadcasters will travel on the road for all but two away games in 2017.

How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?

We currently have 131 front office associates, a sizable increase from the 92 we had a year ago. That’s an addition of 39 employees over the past 12 months.

What other sorts of details should we know about your club that are a good barometer of the club’s ambition? 

In addition to owning and operating state-of-the-art Children’s Mercy Park, Sporting Club is also looking forward to opening the National Training and Coaching Development Center at the end of the year. The $80 million facility will become the new, expansive training home of Sporting KC and also accommodate the Children’s Mercy Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center and the U.S. Soccer National Coaching Education Center. This will effectively make Kansas City the hub for youth athlete sports medicine services and overall soccer development in the United States. The nearby Wyandotte Youth Soccer Complex will be a premier youth soccer venue capable of hosting premier youth tournaments at the national and international level, complete with 12 full-size fields.

In another initiative targeted toward youth, Sporting Club and The Victory have constructed 20 futsal courts at 11 different locations across Kansas City. These futsal courts provide safe and accessible venues for community use, encouraging active lifestyles for local youth and fostering the growth of soccer in the city. The Victory Project is Sporting KC’s philanthropic arm that unites players, staff and fans to help children afflicted with cancer and other serious illnesses.

Sporting Kansas City excels on a variety of digital platforms, ranking among the top third in social media engagement despite being in the league’s second smallest media market. The team ranks among the top third in engagement across three major channels—Twitter, Instagram and Facebook—and has garnered more than a million video views over the past 12 months on its website and other digital properties.

Sporting KC has also extended its brand into a restaurant and entertainment venue called No Other Pub, located in downtown Kansas City. As one of the premier sports bars in town, No Other Pub serves as the official watch party location for all Sporting KC road games. The venue features dozens of televisions as well as a bowling alley, golf simulators, table tennis, shuffleboard and foosball, not to mention a selection of every local craft beer and spirit made in KC.

Sporting Club has also placed great importance on event hosting. On an annual basis, Children’s Mercy Park hosts weddings, high-profile concerts, the NCAA Division II Football National Championship and Sporting KC’s postseason awards show. Sporting Club also oversees the Three Points event space, a rooftop lounge with a 360-degree view of downtown Kansas City.

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Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: Toronto FC

Friday March 3rd, 2017

How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?

TFC’s has made huge investment in youth development and the TFC Academy, not including Kia Training Ground Facilities. Our youth initiatives include a TFC II (a USL team), TFC3 (our senior academy team), TFC Juniors (our grassroots youth program), and partnerships with the Ontario Soccer Association and Regional ID Centres in Windsor and London, Ontario.

How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team?

We have three professional teams. TFC have signed 13 homegrown players. TFC II have signed 13 homegrown players. TFC3 have signed four homegrown players. A total of nine homegrown players have played in MLS matches for TFC.

How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2016?

We have 21,000 for 2017. We had 18,700 in 2016.

Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost?

The Kia Training Ground, $25 million. The facility is world-class and features a dining hall where the team eats two meals a day (players and staff throughout the organization are also fed), a first-team player lounge, state of the art weight room and pool area, and locker facilities for all academy teams.

Did your team build its own stadium? If yes, how much money did the team spend on the stadium?

No, MLSE does not technically own BMO Field, but we are the operators of the facility. The initial build in 2007 was $67 million (government and MLSE funded) and MLSE spent $145 million on a renovation in 2015-16.

Do you have a USL affiliate? How big is your budget this year for your USL team?

Budget numbers are confidential. We field a team TFC II in the USL that plays out of the Ontario Soccer Centre, and this year will play two games as part of doubleheaders at BMO Field. Team is fully-staffed with coaches, trainers and support staff.

How much money have you spent in the three previous years on Designated Players (transfer fees and salary)? How much are you spending on Designated Players this year?

Information is confidential. 

How much TAM have you spent since its inception in the middle of 2015 (including this year)?

Information is confidential.

How would you describe your investment in and use of data analytics? How many full-time analytics employees do you have?

We believe we are on the forefront in analytics in MLS. We have two full-time data analytics employees, along with a full-time video coach whose work enhances our analysis of data.

Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season?

BMO; Sponsorship dollars are confidential

Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season? How big is your budget for presenting local TV broadcasts? Do your broadcasters travel on the road for local TV broadcasts?

All of our games are televised on TSN as part of MLS’s Canadian package.

How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?

59 for TFC, plus 40-50 with parent company Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

What other sorts of details should we know about your club that are a good barometer of the club’s ambition? This one’s open-ended and all up to you! 

The long game here is to have the best development system in the league and be internationally recognized as a leader in player development in North America. To that end we are doing more every year to see how our academy is measuring up to an international standard. Right now, we have 17 full-time staff members dedicated to our academy. We hired Laurent Guyot from the French Football Federation to be our Academy director. Guyot has experience coaching in the French first division and FFF youth national teams.

This year, we will send a U-20 TFC3 team to the prestigious Viareggio Tournament in Italy, as well as the Dallas Cup Super Group. We are quickly becoming the core feeder program of the Canadian national teams. The goal is to double the number of Academy players on our first team by 2022 (from 2014 level), which will lay the foundation for long-term roster stability and consistent success.

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Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: Vancouver Whitecaps

Friday March 3rd, 2017

How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?

Whitecaps FC have the most extensive youth development network in North America, with professional coaches and academies located from coast to coast in eight of 10 provinces in Canada. The best male and female players filter into the full-time boys Residency and Girls Elite BC REX programs in Vancouver. According to commissioner Don Garber, the club invests more in youth development than any other club in MLS.

In 2007, Whitecaps FC Residency launched a full-time, fully funded, player development program unlike any other in North America. The Residency program is comprised of four youth teams–U-14, U-15, U-16, and U-18–with approximately 75 of the top players from across British Columbia and Canada. Aspiring players can enter the Whitecaps FC club system full-time as early as age 12, and be nurtured in an age appropriate learning environment, with gradational steps that will help them attain a successful professional club and national team career.

In 2015, Whitecaps FC 2 played their first season in the United Soccer League. The addition of WFC2 has provided a developmental bridge from USSDA to MLS. The WFC2 2017 roster includes eight Residency grads. Last year, four players signed from WFC2 to the MLS first team.

The club also operates a full-time Girls Elite Regional EXCEL Centre (REX) program in partnership with BC Soccer and Canada Soccer.

All programs regularly produce players who play for Canada at the national team levels. In 2016, 27 Residency and six REX players were called up to Canada’s youth national teams.

In addition to the WFC2, Residency, and REX programs, the club has regional Academy Centres linked through key staff, curriculum, and standards that provide professional supplemental club training for serious, motivated players. The Academy Centre network currently includes locations throughout British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario (London and Ottawa), Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.

How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team?

Whitecaps FC have signed 13 Homegrown players since joining MLS in 2011. The current MLS roster features five Homegrown players, including two first team starters, two that see significant minutes with WFC2, and one currently on loan in the English Championship. Eight WFC Homegrown players have played a MLS league match, while nearly every player has seen significant minutes in the Canadian Championship, CONCACAF Champions League, Whitecaps FC 2 (MLS Reserve League prior to WFC2), and with Canada Soccer at the international level.

How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2016?

For the second consecutive year, Whitecaps FC have 15,500 season-ticket members. Last year, WFC averaged 22,330 fans at BC Place in MLS regular season play, a year-over-year increase of 1,823 with 14 of the 17 matches sold out.

Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost?

Whitecaps FC train at the National Soccer Development Centre (NSDC), University of British Columbia (UBC). WFC have partnered with the BC government and UBC to construct, improve, and refurbish two artificial turf fields, three grass fields, as well as a state-of-the-art fieldhouse. In total, the multi-campus NSDC includes seven fields – two artificial turf fields at Simon Fraser University, and three grass and two artificial turf fields at UBC with a total estimated cost of $32.5 million CAD.

Phase One was completed in February 2013 and currently serves as the club's training home. The final phase of the NSDC, which will feature a state-of-the-art 35,000 square foot fieldhouse, is scheduled to be completed this summer. The fieldhouse is being designed by Acton Ostry Architects, an award-winning architectural firm based in Vancouver, in collaboration with BBB Architects, internationally recognized sports architects who recently completed the Kia Toronto FC Training Ground & Academy.

Once built, the NSDC will become the new training base for the Whitecaps FC men’s, and Residency teams, UBC’s soccer teams, as well as the West Coast base for Canada’s men’s, women’s, and youth national teams. Beyond these teams, the facility will also devote more than 50 per cent of field time to community soccer use. This facility will be a key asset in the training and development of Whitecaps FC and BC Soccer players, as well as local coaches and referees.

Did your team build its own stadium? If yes, how much money did the team spend on the stadium?

BC Place is owned and operated by the BC Pavilion Corporation, a crown corporation of the province. Originally erected as the world’s largest air-supported stadium in 1983, the stadium was reinvented and modernized in 2011 as a year-round open-air facility with a cable-supported retractable roof – the biggest of its kind in the world. The 2011 renovations included soccer specific initiatives such as pitch-level suites and a secondary roof.

The stadium was named one of the top 100 soccer experiences in the world in November 2015 by British soccer magazine FourFourTwo.

Do you have a USL affiliate? How big is your budget this year for your USL team?

Whitecaps FC 2 is fully integrated on both the business and soccer side.

On the soccer side, there are eight players from the Residency program that have earned USL contracts for this upcoming season, while a handful of young first team players see regular minutes with the side. Last year, four players from WFC2 signed with the first team.

How much money have you spent in the three previous years on Designated Players (transfer fees and salary)? How much are you spending on Designated Players this year?

Prior to the start of the 2017 season, Whitecaps FC acquired three-time MLS All-Star striker Fredy Montero as a Designated Player on a one-year loan from Chinese Super League club Tianjin Teda.

In addition to Montero, WFC roster features one of the league’s top defensive midfielders in designated player Matías Laba. Since Laba’s arrival in Vancouver at the start of 2014, no player in the league has made more tackles.

How much TAM have you spent since its inception in the middle of 2015 (including this year)?

Whitecaps FC have used TAM to acquire exciting attacking talents such as Christian Bolaños, Yordy Reyna, and Cristian Techera. The club has also traded TAM to acquire experienced MLS midfielder Andrew Jacobson.

How would you describe your investment in and use of data analytics? How many full-time analytics employees do you have?

Data analytics are used throughout the club.

On the soccer side, it helps coaches make better, more informed decisions, in an efficient manner. It is also used to educate, track, and inform players.

Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season?

The club is very proud to have one of the best partners in the league with Bell Canada as the Premier Founding Partner, which includes the kit sponsorship for the MLS, USL, and USSDA teams.

Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season? How big is your budget for presenting local TV broadcasts? Do your broadcasters travel on the road for local TV broadcasts?

All 34-regular season and MLS Cup Playoff matches are available nationally on TSN or CTV. Last January, Major League Soccer signed a new five-year landmark media rights partnership in Canada with TSN and TVA Sports.

How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?

There are 87 full-time front office employees, which includes two new positions in the past year.

In addition, there are approximately 50 employees at the club’s training center and an additional 38 full or part-time at the academy centers across the country.

What other sorts of details should we know about your club that are a good barometer of the club’s ambition? 

Whitecaps FC mission is to be a champion club on and off the soccer pitch.

The club aims to win trophies at the first team level, with a clear goal to capture MLS Cup. The ambition of the club is long term, and is focused on excellence at every level from grass roots through to the first team.

Another long-term focus of Whitecaps FC is to support BC Soccer and Canada Soccer in the drive to grow the sport across Canada. To provide access to professional coaching and a pathway for every young soccer player in Canada, from Kitimat, BC to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and ultimately, to play a critical role in helping Canada’s men's national team get back to the FIFA World Cup, and the women's national team win the World Cup.

Finally, community spirit is the club’s reason for being. Whitecaps FC players make over 400 appearances each year. BC Children's hospital is one of the club's key community partners and WFC have donated $1 million (CAD) to support the hospital. A beautiful Whitecaps FC playroom will open this fall and the club funds critical care equipment that the hospital needs.

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