David Beckham's Impact On MLS Being Felt In Franchise Fees, TV Rights
The Galaxy play the Dynamo Sunday for the MLS Cup in what could be Galaxy MF David Beckham's final game in the league, and while his "marriage" to MLS has "failed to live up to its overblown hype, both sides say it has been a worthwhile union, one that has gone a long way toward achieving its goal," according to Kevin Baxter of the L.A. TIMES. MLS Commissioner Dan Garber said, "Without him, the league wouldn't be where it is today." Since Beckham's arrival, the expansion fee for an MLS franchise "has quadrupled to $40 million." The league, which "once paid to have its games broadcast on television, next season will begin banking $10 million a year from NBC in addition to rights fees from Univision and ESPN." The Galaxy, the league's "marquee franchise, is estimated to be worth more than $100 million, and attendance around the league is way up." AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke, whose company owns the Galaxy said, "That's all David. From a financial standpoint ... he's been undeniably successful. Show me one measuring post that hasn't increased significantly." Baxter wrote if Galaxy F Landon Donovan is the "unquestioned face of the U.S. national team, Beckham has just as clearly become the face of pro soccer in this country." Garber: "David coming to MLS ... was a statement to a really broad global audience that MLS was serious, that we were a legitimate business." Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said, "He's helped make this team better, he's helped make the league better and there's a great awareness of MLS around the world because of David" (L.A. TIMES, 11/16). Beckham said, "I have definitely achieved what I wanted to off the field. I wanted this game and this league to grow, and I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly. ... Attendances now rival NBA and NHL -- all that in a country where soccer is not the No.1 sport. That is something I am proud to be part of" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/17).
SUSTAINED SUCCESS: Leiweke Wednesday night on Bloomberg TV’s “Sportfolio” said the MLS is successful and will continue to be regardless if Beckham returns next season. Leiweke said, "Look at the league, the expansion, the success we’re having in places like Seattle, Vancouver, Portland and now Montreal. ... When you see people writing a check for $50 million to buy expansion teams, it is a good indication of the trust that investors have in buying franchises and investing in our league.” Leiweke added the “whole world now is amazed at the success” of the MLS. He said, “I don’t see any time in the future that we get out of it or lose our passion for it.” The success of the Galaxy is a “huge credit” to Beckham. Leiweke: "That experience and that experiment worked” (“Sportfolio,” Bloomberg TV, 11/16). Leiweke Thursday said that he "plans to sit down" with Beckham after Sunday's MLS Cup "to discuss Beckham's future with the club" (ESPNLA.com, 11/17).