Timbers are 3rd Most Valuable – Who is Laughing Now?

Patrick Emerson PhD ,

OSU Economist
Oregon Economics Blog

There was some predictable guffawing round about the time Merritt Paulson was contemplating selling the Beavers baseball team and trying to get the city on board with the plan to convert Civic Stadium to a soccer-specific facility.  Soccer, they said, is never going to make it in America, what a stupid investment.

I defended him and the deal at the time and I have never regretted it.  But I was especially offended at the characterization of Paulson as a rich-boy rube that is going to take a bath on the MLS deal and take the city down with him.  Well, it has been a couple of years so let’s take a look at where this whole cockamamy MLS-in-Portland thingy stands.

Forbes yesterday released its list of the most valuable MLS franchises and, yes, the predictable ones are at the top, Seattle and Los Angeles, but look which team is number 3:

The Timbers had an estimated revenue of $39 million in 2012 on operating income of $9.4 million.  If memory serves Paulson paid $20 million for the franchise fee for the Timbers, now the franchise is values at $141 million and on Tuesday MLS announced the newest franchise will be Orlando City who will pay $70 million.    Seems like a pretty shrewd investment – the Timbers could probably be easily sold for nine figures today – just four short years and a five fold return on investment (okay, there was a lot of other money spent on the stadium and such but still…).

Oh and on the field?  The Timbers are playing in the Western Conference Finals for a spot in then MLS cup on Sunday.  Go Timbers!


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