Bill Foley reveals he considered setting up an MLS franchise in Las Vegas before his $185m takeover of Premier League team but the $1bn cost was too much as he labels Bournemouth a ‘BARGAIN’
New AFC Bournemouth owner Bill Foley says he was interested in bringing top-level soccer to the deserts of Las Vegas before nixing the idea.
Foley, the owner of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, told the BBC’s Lewis Coombes that the high sticker price for stadiums and for the team itself turned him away from establishing an MLS team in Sin City.
‘You know, I’ve looked at it, I examined it, and I was pretty serious about it,’ Foley said after being asked if he’d consider a future purchase of an MLS team following his $185million takeover of the Premier League club.
Vegas Golden Knights and Bournemouth owner Bill Foley won’t put an MLS team in Vegas
Foley recently completed a takeover of Premier League side AFC Bournemouth for $185m
‘The MLS unfortunately requires a stadium to be built and the stadiums now in the us are costing $600m, $700m.
‘The franchise fee itself is I think $300m. So, you’re into it for a billion dollars before you even have a team. I thought Bournemouth was a bargain really.
‘I’m buying a Premier League team, it’s already got a stadium, it’s already got players and I can improve it. I can make it better. So, I don’t see us being involved in the MLS. I’m just not that interested in it.’
Foley was considering creating a second Las Vegas team of his own, but decided against it
The businessman officially completed his takeover of AFC Bournemouth earlier this week, as the head of a consortium of investors including Hollywood star Michael B. Jordan.
MailOnline exclusively revealed Foley’s deal and interest back in October, with an agreement to sell the club to him coming days later.
In addition to the Golden Knights, Foley is the chairman of Fidelity National Financial, one of the largest insurance companies in the US, and is said to be worth $1.2billion (£1.08bn).
When Foley sought to create the expansion Golden Knights, he paid the NHL $500m in an expansion fee. That’s considerably more than the $2m that team owners paid in 1967 – when the league first decided to add more teams to its ‘Original Six’.
The Seattle Kraken – the latest NHL expansion team which just wrapped up its first season – paid a whopping $650m franchise fee.
Major League Soccer recently added its 29th team, St. Louis City SC which is set to start competing next season. This year, Charlotte FC made its debut in MLS.
St. Louis City paid $200m in franchise fees while Charlotte – which was expected to be the 30th MLS team in the league – paid a reported $325m to create a team.
Initially, the league was expecting its 29th franchise to be Sacramento Republic FC, currently playing in the second-division USL Championship. However, after the team hit a snag in stadium development, the expansion was put on ‘indefinite hiatus’ in early 2021.
Foley paid $500m in a franchise fee to establish the Vegas Golden Knights back in 2017
According to sports business website Sportico, all 28 current MLS franchises are worth a combined $16.3billion.
MLS Cup champions Los Angeles FC are worth the most at $900m, followed by cross-town rivals LA Galaxy at $865m, then Atlanta United ($855m), Seattle Sounders FC ($725m), and Toronto FC ($705m).
The bottom five MLS teams in descending order are Real Salt Lake ($430m), Orlando City SC ($420m), Vancouver Whitecaps FC ($415m), Colorado Rapids ($400m) and CF Montreal as the least valuable franchise at $390m.
That’s a marked difference from the year prior, where three teams had valuations below $400m.
MLS was set to have 30 teams by now, but Sacramento Republic FC is not ready to join yet