The cost to start an MLS Team varies by market and there are a number of steps you need to follow in order to begin the process.
To apply for a Major League Soccer (MLS) team license, you will need to follow these general steps:
Conduct Market Research: MLS requires interested parties to conduct thorough market research to determine if the proposed team has a viable market in the proposed location.
Identify Potential Investors: You will need to identify potential investors who are willing to support your proposed MLS team. This can include wealthy individuals or companies that are interested in investing in a professional sports team.
Prepare a Business Plan: You will need to prepare a comprehensive business plan that outlines your proposed team’s operations, financial projections, marketing strategies, and other key details.
Submit an Application: Once you have completed your market research, identified potential investors, and prepared a business plan, you can submit an application to MLS to express your interest in owning an MLS team. MLS will review your application and determine if you meet their qualifications.
Attend MLS Expansion Meetings: If your application is accepted, you will be invited to attend MLS expansion meetings. During these meetings, you will have the opportunity to meet with other prospective team owners, MLS executives, and other stakeholders to discuss your proposed team and ask any questions you may have.
Secure Financing: If MLS approves your application, you will need to secure the necessary financing to launch your team. This can include securing investment from your identified potential investors, securing loans or grants, or a combination of both.
Build a Stadium: You will need to build a stadium that meets MLS requirements, including seating capacity, amenities, and other criteria.
Launch Your Team: Once your stadium is built, your team is fully staffed, and you have secured all necessary approvals from MLS, you can officially launch your MLS team and begin competing in the league.
It’s important to note that the process of applying for an MLS team license can be complex and competitive. MLS only awards a limited number of licenses each year, so it’s important to ensure that your application is as strong as possible and meets all of MLS’s qualifications.
So the more important question is what does it cost?
The cost of starting an MLS team with an MLS license can vary widely depending on a number of factors, including the location of the team, the size and scope of the stadium and training facilities, and the level of investment in players and staff.
In general, the cost of starting an MLS team with an MLS license can range from around $200 million to $500 million or more. This includes the cost of the MLS expansion fee, which has increased significantly in recent years, as well as the cost of building or renovating a stadium, hiring staff, and signing players.
For example, when Nashville SC and Inter Miami CF joined MLS in 2020, their expansion fees were reported to be around $150 million each. In addition to the expansion fee, both teams invested heavily in building or renovating stadiums, hiring staff, and signing players.
It’s important to note that the cost of starting an MLS team with an MLS license can also vary depending on the level of support and investment from local government and other stakeholders. Some cities and regions may provide financial incentives or other support to help offset the cost of starting a new MLS team, while others may not.
Overall, starting an MLS team with an MLS license requires a significant investment of time, effort, and resources. However, for those with the means and passion for the sport, it can be a rewarding and exciting opportunity to help build a successful professional soccer franchise in the United States.