Soccer Business Bits: Orlando, Forbes & More

tv cameraThe big news of the day was the official announcement of the worst kept secret in American soccer; Orlando is coming to MLS.  The team will start in 2015 and will play its initial season in the Citrus Bowl.  The reported entry fee will be $70 million, far in excess of prior fees (other than NYC) and supportive of the higher MLS valuations noted by Forbes Magazine (see below).  The event was attended by hundreds of supporters, complete with music, banners and more.  Orlando’s other major professional sports franchise, the Orlando Magic, provided a statement of support.   The minor league version of Orlando City averaged just over 8,000 per game in 2013, a number the franchise hopes more than doubles with the team’s entry into the top tier of American soccer.  The permanent home of Orlando City S.C. will hold 18,000 and the home team will be the first MLS squad to sport purple uniforms. The team’s jersey sponsor will be Orlando Health.

The other big business story of the day comes with the release of the Forbes MLS valuation list.  According to Forbes, the average MLS franchise is worth $103 million.  Five years ago when the magazine last compiled this list, the average value was $37 million.  What happened according to Forbes?  Soccer specific stadiums, bigger talent, bigger attendance, bigger stars and more.   One number hidden in the article is that of the $26 million in revenue per team, almost 90% was team (rather than centrally located).  Values range from the $170 million range (Seattle and Los Angeles) to Colorado, DC, Chivas, San Jose and Columbus in the sub-$80 million range.  League revenues range from Seattle to Chivase ($48 million to $15 million).  The whole article is worth a read for fans of business and the beautiful game.

Finally, the weekly trivia. Based on longevity, what has been the most successful professional soccer league in the United States? (Hint: It folded almost exactly 30 years ago.)

***The trivia questions come courtesy of Jamie Clary.  Mr. Clary is the author of the First American Soccer Trivia Book, available through He has played, coached, refereed and reported the game. During national team games, he often works with USSF compiling stats and helping media. Goalies, he feels, get too much respect from officials. Mexico and France, respectively, are his most hated teams. He plays and lives in Hendersonville, Tennessee.  The excerpts are from The First American Soccer Trivia Book by Jamie Clary; Copyright 2007 FreeFalling Graffiti

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