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The price of a stake in Major League Soccer continues to rise as the league expands and new investors, including some of the nation's top professional athletes, look to invest.
The latest deal to go down involves D.C. United and Houston Texans running back Mark Ingram--formerly of the Baltimore Ravens--who purchased a minority stake in the MLS franchise, the team announced on Friday.
Sportico was the first to report the transaction on Thursday, revealing that the deal valued D.C. United at $710 million, among the highest valuations ever for an MLS club, and a significant hike from the then-MLS record $60 million that the club was valued at in 2012 when majority owner Jason Levien invested.
In a statement released on Friday, Levien and Co-Chairmen Steve Kaplan said, "We spent time with Mark in 2019 and we have built a relationship founded on a set of shared values and a love of sports and community. Mark's track record at the highest level of both collegiate and professional sports and the perspective that he brings is a valued addition to our ownership group and we look forward to having him as our parter."
Ingram spent the last two season in Baltimore where he became a leader in the Ravens locker room and in the Baltimore community before getting released in January.
“I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the DMV as a professional athlete as well as had the fortune of attending D.C. United matches and the passion of the sporting community and fanbase here is second to none," Ingram said. "I look forward to playing an active role in the ownership group to help our club compete for more major trophies and deepen our impact in the community.”
His investment in MLS follows the likes of Brooklyn Nets stars James Harden (Houston Dynamo & Dash) and Kevin Durant (Philadelphia Union), along with NFL colleagues Russell Wilson (Seattle Sounders). Several retired athletes, namely Mia Hamm and Magic Johnson have also put their money into expansion franchise LAFC, which competed in its inaugural season in 2018.
2021 marks the inaugural season of Austin FC, MLS's 27th franchise. Despite plans for an expansion franchise in Sacramento coming to screeching halt in April, the league is expecting to expand from 27 to 30 teams in the next few years with Charlotte and St. Louis set to begin play in 2022 and 2023.
Ingram agreed to a one-year, $3 million deal with the Texans in March where he'll play his 11th season in the NFL.