Athletes Want In On MLS Ownership As Valuations Soar Up 85%

By Ariel Solomon

  • Giannis Antetekoumpo, his brothers, and NHL player Filip Forsberg, are joining the ownership group of the MLS’ Nashville Soccer Club
  • The average MLS team’s valuation has climbed 85% since 2019 to $579 Million

Beyond investing in financial markets and their brands alone, various athletes and celebrities are diversifying their streams of income by wading into the waters of Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise ownership. The MLS Nashville Soccer Club recently announced that former NBA MVP Giannis Antetekoumpo joined its ownership group, along with his brothers Thanasis, Kostas and Alex. Given that MLS team sponsorship income has grown to a record $462 million for 2022, and that the average team’s valuation has climbed 85% since 2019 to $579 million, this appears to be a worthwhile investment.

Why This Matters: To contextualize the appetite around MLS, founded in 1996, the league has grown from 10 to 29 teams. The next expansion team is expected to be priced at $500 Million, up from the previous record of $325 Million for the 2019 founding of the Charlotte Football club. Sold out stadiums, celebrity fans, stadium naming rights, media and streaming deals, as well as the general growing interest in the sport, are all factors driving additional appeal. 

Celebrities and professional athletes are turning their sights to MLS franchise ownership as an additional stream of income. There’s a growing list of star athletes who have bought stakes in MLS teams, including Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, James Harden, and Kevin Durant. Giannis has even moved beyond sports to another  high profile investment when he lent his name to an Illinois-based ESG fund in 2022. 

Situational Awareness: Looking ahead, another potential driver of interest in soccer (or Football as they call it elsewhere in the world) as a sport and ultimately as an investment, will be North America serving as the host for the next World Cup in 2026. As athletes and fans are flocking towards the sport, so are billionaires, celebrities, and athletes, with an eye towards ensuring goals are being scored both on the field and on their balance sheets. 

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