On the latest Sporticast episode, hosts Scott Soshnick and Eben Novy-Williams speak with D.C. United owner Jason Levien about Lionel Messi’s arrival in Miami, and the MLS All-Star Game, hosted this year at United’s Audi Field.
First up is the biggest story in MLS: Lionel Messi. The Argentinian soccer star is set to make his Inter Miami CF debut on July 21, and Levien says the business impacts are already apparent. Teams around the league are seeing a ticket sales boost, a social boost, and increased interest from commercial partners. D.C. United, for example, saw a rush of interest from fans for its July 8 game against Inter Miami, despite the fact that Messi hadn’t yet officially been signed.
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Levien was part of a group that bought D.C. United in 2012, and he talks about the league’s commercial growth and the soaring valuations. (The club recently raised money at a valuation north of $800 million). That conversation extends to expansion–MLS has added 11 teams in the past decade–and Levien says that he thinks the era of mass expansion is likely ending for the league.
Lastly, the hosts speak between themselves about what happens when Messi is done playing, and how many people will rush to watch his Inter Miami debut later this week. They also debate a question about what’s best for the league: For Messi to dominate from the moment he steps on the field, or for the quality of MLS play to make Messi look mortal?
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