NWSL Announces Bay Area Expansion; New club plans to invest $125 million per well


The NWSL is expanding in 2024 with its 14th franchise that will call the Bay Area home. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The National Women’s Soccer League will officially grow to 14 clubs in 2024 when a much-anticipated Bay Area expansion team arrives ready to spend money.

The NWSL on Tuesday announced its newest franchise and details of a star-studded ownership group. A source familiar with the group’s plans told Emox News that it intends to invest $125 million in the team initially, with the bulk of a brand new training facility and a record-breaking $53 million expansion fee be dedicated.

Most of that money is being provided by Sixth Street, the global investment firm behind the expansion bid. And four former US national team players who have driven the bid since its inception – Brandi Chastain, Leslie Osborne, Danielle Slaton and Aly Wagner – will provide football knowledge, strategic vision and clout.

Wagner and Sixth Street CEO Alan Waxman will jointly lead the club’s board of directors, which also includes Rick Welts, former president of the Golden State Warriors, Staci Slaughter, former executive director of the San Francisco Giants, and Sheryl Sandberg, former executive director of Facebook become.

The big unknowns are where exactly the club will play and what its name will be.

With less than a year to go before starting on the pitch and opening game, neither the NWSL nor the as-yet-unnamed club mentioned stadiums or even temporary homes in its Tuesday announcement. In fact, there was nothing that tied the club to San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, or any other specific Bay Area city.

That’s partly on purpose; The club’s goal is to garner fans and attention throughout Northern California, across the Bay and beyond. But it’s also because executives don’t yet know where the club will play and train – in 2024 or beyond. The NWSL said in its official press release that the “state of the art training site” will be at “a location to be announced”.

The club also has less than a year to unveil its brand identity, build its business staff and hire football managers and coaches.

But what it already has is a financial commitment rather than a ready-made infrastructure.

Waxman, the CEO of Sixth Street – which has invested in both Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, ​​as well as the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs – outlined his reasons for the investment in a blog post published on Tuesday. He wrote that women’s sport has “captive value waiting to be unlocked”.

“There are moments in time when tipping points emerge as investors,” he wrote. “Patterns are starting to emerge and you can see the trend in near real-time, even before the full economic reality catches up with the underlying data. We believe we are in one of those moments in women’s sport, and women’s football in particular.”

After laying out five reasons for this belief — including rising attendance and television viewership for women’s sports and content consumption trends suggesting even these data are undercutting the true popularity of the sport that “advertisers, sponsors, media companies and investors are slow” wake up” – Waxman continued:

“All you have to believe is that economic reality will eventually catch up with the data. And meanwhile, similar to global men’s soccer franchises, we will begin to see women’s professional teams becoming national and global consumer brands.”

So Waxman and Sixth Street made the commitment in line with a league-wide trend. NWSL Rules Currently Prevent Bay Area Club From Throwing Money At Global Superstars; but it’s being built from the ground up — like Angel City, San Diego Wave, Washington Spirit, Kansas City Current, and others.

And meanwhile, the NWSL will continue to plan for further expansion. Its Tuesday announcement said it “remains involved in the expansion process to add teams #15 and #16.” No. 15 will reportedly be going to Boston; that there could be a No. 16 in the foreseeable future is new.

Those clubs are likely to pay in the region of the Bay Area’s $53 million expansion fee — first reported by the Wall Street Journal — a tenfold increase or more over what the league was collecting just a few years ago.

“The number of applications and the increase in the league’s expansion fees reflect both the demand for women’s soccer in the professional sports landscape and our league’s confirmed growth trajectory,” NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman said in a statement.

Waxman echoed that sentiment, peering into the future. “We believe that many years from now we will look back on this period as a milestone in the history of US sports and a turning point in extensive investment in women’s sports,” he wrote. “We’re excited that the Bay Area will be a leader. We have a lot of work ahead of us to get this right and we’re incredibly grateful to the likes of Sheryl, Rick and Staci for jumping on board to lead this organization.”

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