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Welcome to the ninth episode of Full-Court Finance, the podcast from Zacks Investment Research focused on the intersection of sports, business, and the stock market. On this week’s episode, we dive into the business of Major League Soccer ahead of Saturday’s championship matchup between the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC.

The MLS has grown in both size and stature in recent years. Just last week, the MLS announced four cities—Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville, and Sacramento—as finalists for two new expansion franchises, with a whopping $150 million price tag attached.

On top of that, the league’s TV ratings and attendance numbers have climbed in 2017. Team valuations also continue to rise, as notable owners from the NFL and NBA, such as Robert Kraft and Paul Allen, help inspire other billionaires to get in on the growth of MLS.

The league’s TV partners—Fox (FOXA - Free Report) , ESPN (DIS - Free Report) , Univision, and others—broadcasted more games than ever before, many in new primetime spots on flagship channels.

Adidas (ADDYY - Free Report) is firmly committed to MLS and growing the sport of soccer in the U.S. The German sportswear giant keeps on pouring money into the league through jersey deals and youth development.

MLS is also a corporate sponsors dream, given the ability to advertise directly on team jerseys. This is something Herbalife Ltd. (HLF - Free Report) , Alaska Air Group, Inc. (ALK - Free Report) , Target (TGT - Free Report) , Microsoft (MSFT - Free Report) , and many others have embraced. Home Depot (HD - Free Report) , AT&T (T - Free Report) , and Wells Fargo (WFC - Free Report) are also all current MLS partners and sponsors.

Still, despite all of these positive signs and real growth, many people around the U.S. question the current and long-term viability of the relatively young MLS.

If you have any questions about this episode of Full-Court Finance please feel free to shoot us an email over at podcast@zacks.com. Please also make sure to check out all of our other podcasts at zacks.com/podcast and remember to subscribe and leave a rating in iTunes.

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