Major League Soccer was recognized as Sports League of the Year during the 2020 Sports Business Awards, among the most prestigious honors in the sports industry.
MLS, which also won the award in 2008 and 2016, claimed this year's honor ahead of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), National Football League (NFL) and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), the other finalists for the award.
MLS has expanded more than any other global sports league over the last decade and that continued during 2019 with more fans consuming MLS than ever before. The league announced new expansion teams, bringing the total number of clubs to 30, all while the valuation of existing MLS clubs has continued to rise exponentially to record highs. Additional major investments were also made in players, both homegrown and international talents, state-of-the-art soccer stadiums and world-class training facilities.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of Toronto FC owners MLSE, received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his numerous contributions across professional sports as the head of one of the largest sports organizations in the world.
In addition to Toronto FC, MLSE manages the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs, the NBA's Toronto Raptors and the Air Canada Centre. Tanenbaum and his wife, Judy, have also donated hundreds of millions of dollars over the years to various medical, health and social causes in the Toronto community.
Sports Executive of the Year
MLS Commissioner Don Garber was also one of the finalists for the Sports Executive of the Year award alongside four other nominees, including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, renowned baseball agent Scott Boras, Roger Penske of Penske Entertainment Corp. and the winner, ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro.
Sports Facility of the Year
Allianz Field, home of Minnesota United FC, was among the five nominees for the Sports Facility of the Year honor after opening during the 2019 season.
The other four finalists were award-winners Chase Center (NBA’s Golden State Warriors), Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse (NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, AHL’s Cleveland Monsters), TD Garden (NBA’s Boston Celtics, NHL’s Boston Bruins) and Wrigley Field (MLB’s Chicago Cubs).
Sports Team of the Year
The NHL's St. Louis Blues beat out the U.S. Women's National Team, MLB's Minnesota Twins, the NFL's San Francisco 49ers, and the NBA's Toronto Raptors.
The Sports Business Awards, organized by Sports Business Journal and Sports Business Daily and presented virtually this year, have been a fixture on the sports scene since 2008 and this year's honors recognized achievements during the period of March 1, 2019 through February 28, 2020.