Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, and U.S. teams are getting more valuable as franchises break into billion-dollar valuations.
- The average Major League Soccer (MLS) team’s value has grown in recent years, especially as soccer has increased in popularity in the U.S.
- The average team valuation has increased 85% to $579 million since 2019, Forbes reports.
- Now American soccer has hit a new high watermark. The Los Angeles Football Club, having just won the 2022 MLS Cup, was announced on Thursday to be the first soccer franchise valued at more than $1 billion.
- This is a significant increase—having only been worth $475 million in 2019.
Why It’s News
The increased valuation is a record for American soccer teams. It reflects a massive growth in the popularity of the world’s most popular sport in the U.S. Eighteen of the 29 U.S. teams have valuations over $500 million. The second most valuable team is L.A. Galaxy at $925 million, according to Forbes’ most recent estimation.
MLS has only existed in the U.S. since 1996, and interest has grown exponentially. CNN reports that only 2% of Americans listed soccer as their favorite sport in 2004, but it increased to 8% in 2022. Soccer is the most popular sport for Americans under the age of 30.
The rapid increase has resulted in interest from billionaire investors, including entertainment owners like Robert Kraft, Phillip Anschulz, Joe Mansueto, and Ryan Smith. Their interest and investment have only drawn further interest into soccer as a growing investment so long as U.S. interest in the sport continues to grow.
“It’s less of a financial hurdle to control an MLS team than [in] some other sports, so you do see more people who can do it. But I think people love it. They want to be a part of the community and the trajectory,” lead managing owner Bennett Rosenthal told Forbes.