The Biggest Sporting Investment of All Time

In the modern era, sports have transformed from a working-class activity to a channel of investment for the rich. Investment into sports have been polarizing to say the least; some say it is only natural for people to try to capitalize on any opportunity to make more money; others say it can be harmful if done inappropriately. Regardless of the opinion one might have on the topic, today, we present to you some of the biggest investment projects that have anything to do with a sport, international or local.

2022 Qatari World Cup: $220 billion

Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2012 World Cup was controversial ever since the initial announcement in 2010. Over the course of the next dozen years, the Middle Eastern nation is accused of bribing FIFA and its then-chairman Sepp Blatter, as well as of sportswashing and multiple human rights violations; thousands of workers perished in the heat and dangerous working conditions.

The entire project cost Qatar more than 220 billion dollars, the most a nation has ever paid to host the World Cup and fifteen times more than the second-most (Brazil 2014). This is mostly because Qatar essentially built entirely new cities (Lusail, for example) and infrastructure to handle match-goers, such as hotels, malls, as well as an entire metro system to some stadiums. Furthermore, due to its staggering heat, Qatar had to build air-conditioned stadiums.

Worth it?

While the World Cup itself is not a commercial success for Qatar, having been allocated only one-sixth of the net 9-billion-dollar revenue, the infrastructures and facilities, as well as its relatively good handling of the event, propelled Qatar into international recognition. Many sporting events have since been held in Qatar; the Formula 1 Qatar Airways Qatar Grand Prix 2023 and the 2023 AFC Asian Cup are only two of the more recognizable and popular events held in the micro-nation.

Qatar had expected to make only 17 billion dollars from the World Cup, but these long-term investments will surely pay good dividends in years to come.

2023-2033 Las Vegas Grands Prix: $500 million

In their latest attempt to boost viewership and revenue from the United States, Formula One just organized a race down the world-renowned Las Vegas Strip and will be coming back for the next ten years in a deal worth half a billion dollars. Vegas is already the third track on American soil in the 2023 calender, and some fans were not happy.

From an investor’s perspective, it is a no brainer. Americans always cash out for prestige and pomp, and Formula One is just that. Records showed that the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix was the most expensive Grand Prix to attend last year, costing more than 1,600 dollars on average. In fact, the three Grands Prix hosted by the United States find themselves in the top five, with Miami closely following Las Vegas, and the Texas/US Grand Prix ranked fifth.

Worth it?

The impact on the Vegas economy is immense; November 2023 is reportedly the city’s best-ever November with more than a billion dollars generated. The Grand Prix also created more than 7,000 jobs and will reward the community for years on end. It could only grow larger in 2024 and onwards.

With 24 races, the 2024 Formula One Season is bound to be the longest and most packed season so far, and no doubt that the Las Vegas Grand Prix will be the paragon of all once again. But, who will win the grandest prize of them all this time? Will it be the reigning champ Max Verstappen? His teammate Sergio Perez? The Ferraris or the Mercedes? Visit M88 Asia and try out your luck now!

The 2023 Saudi Pro League: $1 billion

Unlike the others, this addition to the list has nothing to do with infrastructure or accommodating fans, it is all about bringing in the best athletes to promote the new era of Asian football. The Saudi Pro League is one of Saudi Arabia’s plan under its 2030 Vision to become a global leader, and they have been ruthless when it comes to investment in sports.

In 2023, some of the names that joined the Saudi Arabian top flight were purely stacked to the brim. These include Champions League winners like N’Golo Kante, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Riyad Mahrez, and Jordan Henderson; Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema; and the GOAT candidate Cristiano Ronaldo. The managerial acclaim in this division is also decent, with Steven Gerrard, Nuno Espirito Santo, and Jorge Jesus at the helm of their clubs.

Worth it?

While it looks to be a commercial success in terms of marketability and advertisement, the League completely fails when it comes to local attention. On average, the Saudi Pro League has only around 8 thousand viewers per game; Al-Hilal boasts an impressive 26,000 on average, peaking at 59,600; Al-Riyadh peaked at the league average of 8,600 and bottomed out at 133.

Yes, it is true that these players and managers are investment for the betterment of Saudi football, but with such low figures, its efficiency and worthiness have to be questioned and addressed accordingly.


Investments can and have failed; this short list of three sporting examples already convey three different approaches to three different demographics, with alternating success. Investments are not simply spending money and hoping for good results; they must be done with vision and passion to guarantee profit and benefits for all.