This must be why Russell Wilson and Ciara decided to invest in the Seattle Sounders.
Forbes is out with their annual MLS team valuations, and the Sounders remain in the top five on the backs of a massive increase in estimated value, though they’ve been passed by a couple of the new kids on the block. The Sounders are estimated to have a value of $405 million which is a whopping $95 million increase from 2018, when they were valued at $310 million. That valuation is good for fourth among all MLS teams.
Atlanta United remain the kings of the hill, with an estimated value of $500 million, an increase of $170 million for 2018. The LA Galaxy ($480 million), LAFC ($475 million) and the Sounders 2019 MLS Cup opponents Toronto FC ($395 million) round out the top five.
As Forbes points out, much of these increases in team values are supported by the significant increase in expansion teams and fees, and the league’s operation of Soccer United Marketing, which monetizes U.S. Soccer marketing rights worldwide, as well as Liga MX marketing in the United States.
A number of teams in the league are still losing money according to Forbes, with Toronto FC leading the way with -$19 million in operating income. Much of that is due to the high salaries of the three Designated Players. Michael Bradley alone makes $6.5 million, and is due to make the same next year if Toronto wins MLS Cup. New York City FC loses $16 million per year, due in part to the fact they pay $1 million per game to rent Yankee Stadium.
The Sounders for their part are reportedly profitable, having taken in $1 million in operating surplus in $47 million of revenue in 2018, according to Forbes. According to the Forbes article, the Sounders had an estimated value of between $300 million and $400 million during the sale of Joe Roth’s stake to the new investors. A source previously indicated that a valuation of $350 million was “in the ballpark.”
According to the article, only seven of 24 MLS teams are profitable. The Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and the MLS Players Association expires on Jan. 31, 2020. The parties continue to negotiate, in hopes of reaching a deal that does not impact the 2020 season.
The Sounders valuation would put them 28th in the NHL, ahead of the Buffalo Sabres. No MLS team comes close to the team valuations in the NBA, NFL or Major League Baseball, whose lowest valued teams all start at $1 billion.