Forbes estimates that LAFC is worth $1 billion, just nine years after it joined MLS for an expansion fee of $110 million, making it the league’s first billion-dollar franchise. That’s more than double the $475 million Forbes determined it was worth in 2019, the last time we assessed North American soccer teams.
LAFC’s ascent is the latest sign of just how much MLS has grown since it was founded in 1996. There are now 29 teams in the league—it began with 10—with St. Louis City SC set to debut this season. Since 2019, the average team valuation has climbed 85%, from $313 million to $579 million. And the price tag for the next expansion team (likely Las Vegas or San Diego) is expected to be $500 million, according to a well-placed industry source, a considerable increase from the previous record of $325 million set by billionaire David Tepper when he founded Charlotte FC in 2019.
Billionaires have long believed in the potential of MLS. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and entertainment mogul Philip Anschutz were among MLS’ original owners, and a slew of others—including Tepper, Morningstar founder Joe Mansueto (Chicago Fire, 2018) and Qualtrics’ Ryan Smith (Real Salt Lake, 2022)—have since gotten in the game and driven up team values.