MLS provides update on future expansion fees

At last week’s MLS Board of Governors meeting that took place during 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star Week, club owners discussed potential future rounds of expansion, among other topics.

According to MLS president and deputy commissioner Mark Abbott, while no decisions were made on the timetable for expansion or expansion fees, the latter could reach $200 million.

"There has been incredible interest from cities across the country in acquiring a Major League Soccer expansion club and we continue to have productive discussions with a number of prospective ownership groups,” Abbott said in a league statement. “Following the Board of Governors meeting, the league is continuing to work on the timetable and the details, including pricing, for future expansion and no decisions have been made. Based on the increasing value of MLS clubs, expansion fees could be as high as $200 million.”

Major League Soccer, which began as a 10-team league in 1996, currently features 20 teams with more expansion teams scheduled to join in the coming years: Atlanta United begins play in 2017, LAFC will kick off in 2018 and Minnesota is expected to enter by 2018.

MLS is also negotiating with a David Beckham-led ownership group which has been working on landing an MLS team in Miami to become the league’s 24th team.

Commissioner Don Garber last year announced plans for expansion up to 28 teams.

A number of cities have already been linked as a potential home for future MLS expansion teams, including Detroit, Sacramento, San Diego, St. Louis, and others. According to Abbott, however, there is no official timetable yet for applications.

Based on valuations compiled by Forbes, the average MLS team was worth $157 million in 2015, up 52 percent compared to the same list from 2013.

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