If Don Garber or any other MLS official has been asked once, they’ve been asked 400 times: has David Beckham delivered enough to justify his fabulous price?
Even a bunch of rich folks, like the ones bankrolling MLS, want value for their investments; Beckham’s original five-year, $32.5 million deal represented a major chunk of change in MLS. So it’s fair to debate the Beckham’s bounce. And we certainly have done just that, especially last fall as his original contract expired about the same time Los Angeles won MLS Cup.
Garber himself said repeatedly that MLS “wouldn’t be where it is today” without Beckham, and it’s hard to argue the point. The league expansion fee has quadrupled, migrating into the $40 million neighborhood – not NBA or NFL money, but a tony ’hood just the same. The league has priced a second New York franchise even higher, at $100 million.
Meanwhile, a league that once paid to get matches on television is collecting modest rights fees from three networks (NBC, ESPN and Univision.) You can bet an autographed No. 23 Galaxy jersey that Beckham and all the attached awareness he created had something to do with those burgeoning fees.
But even if you somehow dismiss all evidence that Beckham’s influence drove up value for the MLS collective, you simply cannot deny what he’s done to add extra commas and decimal points to the franchise locally.
The Galaxy’s new contract with Time Warner Cable, for instance, is worth a reported $55 million over 10 years. An AEG executive told me during MLS Cup week the contract was not contingent on Beckham returning. Still, everything he did in five previous years helped position the Galaxy into favorable leverage during negotiations with the regional cable network.
Now comes word of the Galaxy finalizing a record 10-year, $44 million renewal with Herbalife to extend the club’s jersey sponsorship deal. That’s according to today’s report in the Sports Business Journal.
That thump you just heard was MLS executives and sponsorship hunters in 18 other markets, falling to the ground in jealousy.