by Sam Hieb
In his analysis, JLF senior vice president Jon Pritchett see many positives in the proposed Charlotte Major League Soccer expansion, not the least of which is the league’s new TV deal:
In 2014 MLS and U.S. Soccer signed a new, eight-year television and media-rights deal with ESPN, Fox Sports and Univision. For the first time in MLS history, all three television partners feature an exclusive MLS match of the week. The new deal represents a 500 percent increase over the previous contract. MLS now has average attendance numbers (greater than 20,000 per match) surpassed in the U.S. only by the NFL and MLB. What’s more, as the number of available markets diminishes with expansion (supply), the demand for the remaining markets will rise.
Hey, it could be a good deal for MLS, it could be good deal for Bruton Smith and his son, it could be a good deal for soccer fans—a classic win-win for Charlotte. You’d think such a good deal would draw a lot of private equity, but instead—as Pritchett notes—the Smiths are opting to let the city and Mecklenburg County—the county’s already offered up its $44 million— “become the banker and loan the funds.”
And as of now the city’s backing away.