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Sporting KC 10th Most Valuable MLS Team per Forbes

The values of all 24 MLS teams, plus revenues and operating income.

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MLS is just printing money.
Photo credit should read EVA HAMBACH/AFP via Getty Images

On Monday, Forbes came out with their annual MLS team value list. Sporting Kansas City landed at 10th on the list of 24 MLS teams at $325 million in value. That is the team’s exact spot in salaries spent after the team jettisoned Kelyn Rowe and Yohan Croizet (they were 5th at mid-season before those moves).

In 2018 Sporting KC were 9th at $270 million in value. That is more than a 20 percent increase year-over-year. I wish my 401k grew at that rate.

It should be noted all these numbers are based on the team value and do not include stadiums and real estate. Teams that own their stadiums theoretically should be worth more but it gets kind of complicated.

The other statistics listed by Forbes are ‘Revenue’ and ‘Operating Income.’ Sporting KC are 8th in revenue at $43 million and they are tied for 5th in operating income with a cool $1 million. 15 of the 23 teams in MLS reportedly lost money (FC Cincinnati has no revenue or operating income listed).

It should be noted that some numbers are missing from revenue. Particularly payouts from SUM (potentially $5.5 million per team) and expansion fees are missing. Since 2009, according to Edwin Games, that’s another $1.5 billion.

The Rest of the League

Atlanta United came in at the top spot with a projected $500 million in value. The Colorado Rapids came in last place with just $190 million in value.

Across the league the average value is now $313 million which is up 30% from 2018. So while teams are consistently “losing” money, values are going up pretty much universally.

Top Five Team Values

  1. Atlanta United - $500 M
  2. LA Galaxy - $480 M
  3. LAFC - $475 M
  4. Seattle Sounders - $405M
  5. Toronto FC - $395M

SKC are 10th with $325M.

Top Five Team Revenues

  1. Atlanta United - $78M
  2. LA Galaxy - $64M
  3. LAFC - $50M
  4. Seattle Sounders & Portland Timbers - $47M

SKC are 8th with $43M.

Top Five Team Operating Incomes

  1. Atlanta United - $7M
  2. LA Galaxy - $5M
  3. Portland Timbers - $4M
  4. Real Salt Lake - $2M
  5. Seattle Sounders, Sporting KC and D.C. United - $1M

Every other team lost money. Toronto FC lost $19 million. New York City FC lost $16 million. And the Montreal Impact lost $12 million. On the whole, the league lost $89 million.

Other Fun Facts

  • The LAFC versus LA Galaxy playoff game averaged nearly 900,000 viewers on ESPN which is a high for a non-final. That still feels pretty low.
  • FC Cincinnati ended their debut season in last place but they were third in attendance (partially due to their larger stadium).
  • LAFC make $6.7 million annually in stadium naming rights, $6.0 million for their jersey sponsor and another “seven figure” deal for a sleeve sponsorship with Target (the league’s first). Some of the best in the league. They also have the league’s most expensive tickets (probably because they sell out all their games).
  • MLS teams grew the aforementioned 30% year over year. Much better than the “big four” who come in as follows: NBA (13%), NFL (11%), MLB (8%) and NHL (6%).
  • Despite that growth, only 10 teams across the other four leagues combined lost money.
  • If Atlanta were an NHL team they’d be the 16th most valuable. That’s better than more than half of the NHL (including the Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues — $465M).
  • All the MLS teams together are worth $7.165 billion. For comparison, the Dallas Cowboys are worth $5 billion by themselves.

Full Forbes MLS Value List

Below is the full list of team values, revenue and operating income (or loss).

2019 Forbes MLS Values

Team Value ($M) Revenue ($M) Operating Income ($M)
Team Value ($M) Revenue ($M) Operating Income ($M)
Atlanta United 500 78 7
LA Galaxy 480 64 5
LAFC 475 50 -5
Seattle Sounders 405 47 1
Toronto FC 395 43 -19
Portland Timbers 390 47 4
New York City FC 385 45 -16
D.C. United 330 41 1
Sporting Kansas City 325 43 1
Minnesota United 300 24 -8
Orlando City 295 39 -1
New York Red Bulls 290 36 -6
FC Cincinnati 285 N/A N/A
Houston Dynamo 280 23 -6
San Jose Earthquakes 275 35 -5
New England Revolution 245 29 -2
Philadelphia Union 240 21 -5
Real Salt Lake 235 21 2
FC Dallas 220 33 -7
Vancouver Whitecaps 215 20 -5
Montreal Impact 210 18 -12
Columbus Crew 200 18 -8
Colorado Rapids 190 18 -5