Half of Major League Soccer clubs posted a profit for 2015 according to today’s report by Forbes. The Seattle Sounders turned the largest profit last year and are currently the most valuable club in MLS. The Los Angeles Galaxy had the highest revenue for the year at $58 million.
Orlando City celebrated their first year by posting a $4 million profit and $36 million in revenue. Forbes noted that this is even more impressive when considering that Orlando is one of the league’s smallest markets, the club paid all operating expenses plus a $15,000-per-game usage fee at Camping World Stadium, and had to split concessions and parking revenue with the City of Orlando.
Ticket demand in Orlando is extremely high, greatly benefiting the club’s bottom line. Orlando City charges a $75 deposit to get on the waiting list for season tickets and a $25 annual renewal fee to remain on the list. The team is currently averaging over 32,000 per game, but will be moving into their 25,500 capacity stadium for next season.
Fellow expansion team New York City FC was estimated to have similar revenues, but increased expenses due to their larger payroll and Yankee Stadium being the most expensive venue to use in MLS. Forbes estimated that they posted a $9 million dollar loss for the year.
Where will Atlanta United rank in the league once they get started?
For one, their investments in infrastructure are ahead of the rest of the league. Sporting Kansas City and the Chicago Fire both recently built facilities for training for around $20 million. Atlanta United’s training facility and headquarters in Marietta is expected to cost $60 million.
It would be a fair assumption that game day costs will be much lower for Atlanta United at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium than they were for Orlando at Camping World Stadium. Combining that with 22,000+ season ticket holders already makes a profitable first year possible.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber told Forbes that “there are many more cities and many more investors than we have available opportunities.” He also said that the next round “could be the final round of expansion for Major League Soccer.” With the increased competition for spots in the league, Atlanta United could be joining at just the right time.