Money Matters: Seattle, Galaxy top Forbes' MLS valuations

No surprise as to which two teams are listed atop the latest valuation of MLS teams compiled by Forbes.

Seattle is ranked first at $245 million, followed by the LA Galaxy at $240 million. Rounding out the top five are Houston ($200 million), Portland ($185 million), and Toronto FC ($175 million).

Expansion teams New York City and Orlando City are not included in the list of team valuations since those are based on 2014 financial data. Nonetheless, their high-profile players and strong attendances are cited as among several positive factors of the league’s development.

Specific formulas as to how those figures were derived aren’t cited in the article, yet along with standard parameters such as attendances, revenues, sponsorships, and stadium valuations accrued by each team, Forbes lists aspects of league growth as positive trends.

The Sounders are also ranked first in annual revenue at $50 million, the Galaxy is second at $44 million. Since the league does not publicly disclose such financial data, Forbes has relied on estimates and projections of the limited data available on ticket prices, sales of concessions and merchandise, parking, value of local sponsorship and broadcast deals, etc.

Forbes cites increased attendances and TV ratings, which can in part be attributed to more star players, as reasons the average valuation of an MLS team is $157 million, a 52 percent increase from the 2013 valuations of which the average was $103 million. The eight-year broadcast deals with ESPN, Fox Sports, and Univision that more than tripled the worth of its previous deals is another factor used in the valuations.

So far this season, the league is averaging 21,330 fans per game, as compared to its 18,600 average in 2013. That figure also tops averages generated by teams in the NBA (17,800) and NHL (17,500). On its current pace, the league will hit an annual attendance of about 7.2 million, about a 20 percent increase from the 6.01 million of 2013.

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