RSL Cup blog taking a long much needed break

I've been a fan of Real Salt Lake since it joined MLS and took to the field in 2005, and I've been a fan of MLS since it began in 1996.

However, over the past couple of years, and especially the last several months, I've began to see the ugly underbelly of this sport. Most likely it has always been there and I was just too naïve to see it, but I cannot not see it anymore.

I'm taking a much needed break from the sport of soccer. I may or may not be back. I may or may not update this blog, I don't know. It would be a shame since I've had it up and running for almost 10 years, but the fun I once had just isn't there any more.

Hopefully you fare better.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Major League Soccer's Most Valuable Teams 2016: New York, Orlando Thrive In First Seasons

(by Chris Smith 9-7-16)

"If MLS was a publicly traded company, now would be a really good time to buy."

That's the bullish take MLS commissioner Don Garber offers when we recently spoke about the league he's been leading for the last two decades. And we're on the subject of investment because there is a host of prospective buyers who agree with his opinion, and they're lining up around the block to get a piece of the next and, according to Garber, potentially final round of MLS expansion.

The cost to join will be high, and league president Mark Abbott raised plenty of eyebrows when he recently spoke of expansion fees going as high as $200 million for the next round. That represents a major increase to the price of entry, which was $40 million just four years ago. "There were a lot of questions and concerns among potential investors as to the price," says Garber of past expansion rounds, noting that each subsequent round had a then-record fee. "But today I think [team owners] are feeling pretty good about the investment they made in the league, regardless of the price they paid."

The numbers certainly bear that out: The average MLS team is now worth $185 million. That's up 18% over last year, 80% from 2013 and a staggering 400% from our first MLS valuations in 2008, when the average team was worth $37 million. The Seattle Sounders are once again the league's most valuable franchise, now worth $285 million or about as much as a low-level NHL team.

It's of course not as simple as comparing those current values to past expansion fees, since the league and its teams have spent two decades losing hundreds of millions of dollars, but that continuing investment by MLS owners has led to a league that truly seems to be on the path to joining soccer's elite ranks.

More than $3 billion has been invested in the league's soccer-specific stadiums, and a new wave of state-of-the-art training facilities means that millions more are being poured into the league's player development efforts. Those players are also faring much better today than ever before. Three years ago just nine MLS players were making $1 million or more in salary; today nearly two-dozen players have seven-figure salaries. And unlike in years past, when those top-paid stars were typically over-the-hill veterans, many of today's highest earners are also among the league's top performers.

(more to come)

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