Is its a good investment?
The Major League Soccer regular season is a few days away but the biggest story going into the 2019 season is not on the field. Instead, it is how many big money people are angling to get into a league which features teams that apparently lose money. But that isn’t stopping Ron Burkle from throwing his support behind a Sacramento bid for an expansion franchise. David Tepper, the National Football League’s Carolina Panthers owner may want one of the available expansion teams for Charlotte. There are people in St. Louis and Phoenix and Detroit who also dream of one day owning a Major League Soccer franchise. The question is why. What is the attraction in owning a Major League Soccer franchise if it is a perennial money losing business? Especially when the MLS Commissioner Don Garber is saying that the league may have to change its business model and become a developer of players and then selling them off to more establish, higher profile leagues globally.
The MLS has 27 franchises and will have all of them on the pitch by 2021. Miami still needs a stadium. In 2017, the MLS owners went looking for four expansion teams. They found two cities with owners that qualified. Nashville and Cincinnati. The third city Austin didn’t even bid for a team. Instead, the city enticed Columbus ownership to move to the Texas capital. Through some maneuverings, Columbus kept the team with new owners and the former Columbus ownership took an Austin expansion franchise. St. Louis was passed over when voters said no to funding a soccer stadium. Charlotte didn’t have a stadium, Sacramento had an ownership issue, there were problems with the Phoenix bid and Detroit had stadium issues. But all of those cities are in the running for one expansion opening, or is it two or three? The answer? No one knows.