THE BUSINESS CASE FOR THE GROWTH OF MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
If you’re looking for a sporting example of an organization managing fast growth, here’s an unexpected one: Major League Soccer.
As soccer’s popularity continues to grow stateside, MLS has added nine new clubs since 2007 (two of which, the most recent additions, will begin play in 2015). Meanwhile, the league’s average attendances now rival those of the National Hockey League and National Basketball Association, and TV ratings—though they dipped in 2013—have significantly grown from a decade ago.
This success has translated financially, too; the Columbus Crew sold for more than $60 million—a solid midmarket number that, though it pales in comparison to the valuations for Major League Baseball and National Football League teams, is a record for an MLS club.
With 18 seasons now in the books, MLS is on the verge of breaking into the pantheon of America’s major league sports. But it still faces its challenges, from competing with global soccer to growing its core audience. Commissioner Don Garber spoke to Inc. about lessons from the league’s recent growth stage and how it plans to keep it going.
With fast growth comes the capacity to run off the rails. To that end, it’s important to keep measure of success—and be quick to diagnose when something might go wrong. MLS keeps tabs of its key performance indicators—which Garber listed as national and local television ...