Sounders Owner Adrian Hanauer Predicts 'Astronomical' Financial Losses for MLS

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 15, 2020

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 12: Seattle Sounders majority owner, Adrian Hanauer, talks to the fans during the MLS Cup Champions Parade & Rally on November 12, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The MLS season has been suspended since March 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic, which could lead to significant financial losses for its franchises.

"The losses at the team level in MLS will be astronomical. Hundreds of millions, billions, really big numbers," Seattle Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer said on Wednesday's episode of the Sounder At Heart podcast. "But the MLS ownership is solid and committed to the league and their teams long term. That is fantastic."

According to Jeff Carlisle of ESPN, the league could remain suspended through June 8.

The Sounders are one of the most valuable franchises in MLS at $405 million, with $47 million in revenue in 2019, per Chris Smith of Forbes. However, the team had only $1 million in operating income during the season.

Even with the infusion of money from 11 new investors last August, there is still a limited margin.

With a significant portion of the season potentially lost, each team will have minimal opportunities to generate revenue. But despite the problems, Hanauer has faith in MLS to survive the year.

"There's been lots of criticism of single entity structure—no promotion-relegation, salary cap—heard over the years," he explained. "But some of those principles are what will allow this league to survive and thrive coming out the other end."

Seattle has also taken care of its employees during the suspension. According to Pablo Maurer and Sam Stejskal of The Athletic, the team has not furloughed any staff and doesn't plan to, while only senior staff have taken pay cuts.

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