Sources have told Paul Tenorio, Jeff Rueter, and Pablo Maurer of The Athletic that Orlando City majority owner Flavio Augusto da Silva is in discussions with the Wilf family ($) to purchase a stake in the club. While it’s unknown how much of the club they would be purchasing, it’s believed that it would be a majority stake.
Buying into MLS is not unusual for the Wilf family. The owners of the Minnesota Vikings attempted to start an expansion franchise in Minneapolis, eventually given to Dr. Bill McGuire and Minnesota United of the NASL. In 2017, the Wilf family later bought a minority stake in Nashville SC, an expansion franchise that started play in 2020.
According to The Athletic’s story, sources say that the value of Orlando City SC is around $450 million. That would be a healthy profit for the club’s owner, who purchased the franchise rights in 2013 for $70 million. However, the article states that sources have said that da Silva is looking for a valuation as close to $500 million as possible.
Orlando City is a part of Orlando Sports Holdings LLC, which also owns the NWSL’s Orlando Pride. The organization owned Orlando City B of USL League One from 2016 until 2020 when the club left the league, reportedly to create a team in the expected launch of an MLS reserve league. It’s unknown if the Pride or Exploria Stadium, which is also owned by da Silva, would be included in the sale.
“The Wilf family continues to evaluate potential opportunities in business, sports and entertainment, but it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment on any specific discussion at this time,” said Lester Bagley, executive vice president of public affairs for the Minnesota Vikings.
The publication also reached out to an Orlando City spokesperson.
“Conversations between Orlando City’s majority owner Flavio Augusto da Silva and potential investors happen, and he is always willing to discuss the sale of shares of the club, but at this time a change in majority ownership is not part of the club’s immediate future.”
While discussions are reportedly going on, sources told The Athletic that the deal is still not close to finalization.
In October of last year. Sports Business Journal reported that da Silva was in the final stages of a sale. While the potential buyer was not named, it was believed that the buyer was based in North America. Whether that potential buyer was the Wilf family is unclear, but multiple sources told The Athletic that the Wilfs have been in discussions with Orlando City “for some time.”
Da Silva still maintains majority ownership of the club but has been selling shares over the years. This includes selling 8.63% of Orlando Sports Holdings LLC to Canadian businessman Albert Friedberg in 2018 and an unknown portion of the club to Jed Kaplan, part owner of the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies and English club Swansea City.
A sale of the team would go with the reports by SportBusiness in May of 2019 that stated that da Silva was potentially looking to sell off the club by the time he turns 50 in 2022.
MLS discourages investors from owning multiple teams in the league. As such, it’s suspected that should the Wilf family complete the purchase of the club, they would have to divest in Nashville SC. A sale would also have to be approved by the MLS Board of Governors before becoming official.
We’ll continue to track this story as it develops.