Matthew McConaughey Continues String of Celebrity MLS Investors

(Bloomberg) -- Major League Soccer teams are the new hot investment for celebrities.

In the past two months alone, three MLS teams have added celebrities -- film, music and sports stars -- to their ownership groups. The latest, Austin FC in Texas, brought in actor Matthew McConaughey.

The 49-year-old Oscar winner is one of four locals joining the team, which is controlled by majority partner Anthony Precourt and is set to make its MLS debut in 2021.

Matthew McConaughey Continues String of Celebrity MLS Investors

“Austin FC is more than a quality investment FOR Austin, it’s a quality investment IN Austin,” McConaughey said in a statement. “The most diverse and borderless game in the world is now coming to one of the most multicultural, creative and diverse cities in the world. Austin FC is a healthy investment in our city’s culture and future.”

In July, Houston Rockets all-star James Harden bought a minority stake in the Houston Dynamo. A few weeks later, the Seattle Sounders announced a celebrity-laden group of investors, including rapper Macklemore, singer Ciara and her husband, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

While terms of the Austin investments weren’t released, these stakes are typically quite small. That said, they can often drive a lot of attention. Rapper Jay-Z, for example, owned less than 1% of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, but he included the team in a number of his songs and was one of the ownership group’s most public faces.

A Texas native who attended the University of Texas at Austin, McConaughey is a staple at Longhorns football games and has become a folk hero of sorts in the state capital. The other Austinites joining the soccer team’s ownership group include tech entrepreneur Eddie Margain, Dell Technologies Inc. executive Marius Haas, and Bryan Sheffield, executive chairman of Parsley Energy Inc.

The average MLS franchise is worth $240 million, according to Forbes magazine. While expansion fees have skyrocketed in the past decade, Precourt didn’t pay one for the new Austin club -- he previously owned the league’s team in Columbus, and in lieu of his moving it to Austin, new owners in that city paid the fee to keep it in Ohio.

MLS has expanded rapidly in the past few years, with new franchise FC Cincinnati starting play this season as its 24th team. Franchises in Miami and Nashville, Tennessee, are scheduled to debut next year, followed by Austin in 2021 and St. Louis in 2022.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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