Minority stake offloaded in Timber-Thorns


Minority share of Portland Timbers sold last year Image: Portland Timbers

The Major League Soccer (MLS) team Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson sold a 15 percent stake in the Timbers and the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) team Portland Thorns FC organization in 2021 to a private equity firm.

‘OREGON LIVE’ stated that Arctos, a firm, invested in at least 18 professional sports teams globally including the Major League Baseball (MLB) teams Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, the National Basketball Association (NBA) team Golden State Warriors and others, purchased a 15 percent stake in the Timbers and Thorns, a club spokesperson confirmed.

The Portland Timbers are an American professional men’s soccer club based in Portland, Oregon, US. The Timbers compete in Major League Soccer (MLS) as a member club of the league’s Western Conference.

The Portland Thorns FC is an American professional women’s soccer team based in Portland, Oregon, US. Established in 2012, the team began play in 2013 in the then-eight-team National Women’s Soccer League, which receives support from the United States Soccer Federation.

The 25,218-capacity Providence Park in Portland serves as the residence of both Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns FC.

Dallas (US)-based Arctos Sports Partners is a private equity firm focused on acquiring passive minority stakes in professional sports franchises as well as providing liquidity and structured growth capital solutions to sports franchise control owners and Governors.

Kurt Badenhausen of Sportico (digital content platform providing sports industry news) noted it was the first time Paulson had sold a stake in the organization – “The investment was at an enterprise value of $600 million with Arctos securing a more traditional minority discount on its piece.”

Arctos describes its mission as helping sports owners “increase liquidity and financial flexibility”, according to its website.

Paulson, 49, and his family purchased the Timbers in 2007 and paid $35 million to enter Major League Soccer as an expansion team in 2011.

‘OREGON LIVE’ further stated that the Thorns joined the NWSL in 2013. The club known as Portland Thorns Football Club (PTFC) – combining the Timbers and Thorns under one business umbrella – is valued at $685 million.

This makes PTFC the eighth most valuable sports franchise in MLS, trailing close behind seventh-place New York City FC ($690 million) and sixth-place D.C. United ($700 million).

The Los Angeles FC is the most lucrative franchise in MLS with a valuation of $900 million. The Seattle Sounders FC is fourth at $725 million.

The Major League Soccer (MLS) is a men’s professional soccer league sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation, which represents the sport’s highest level in the United States. The league comprises 28 teams – 25 in the United States and 3 in Canada – and will expand to 29 teams for the 2023 season.

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