NWSL expansion to Bay Area: Vague details but plenty of excitement for 2024 women's soccer team
- Club will join Utah as new 2024 teams
- NWSL up to 14 organizations
- Bay Area team has deep-pocketed investors
WHAT HAPPENED? On Tuesday the NWSL confirmed that it would field a team in the Bay Area next year, though key details such as the exact location of the club, stadium plans and what it will be called remain unclear.
The team is backed by Sixth Street, which is also invested in Barcelona, Real Madrid and the San Antonio Spurs. Former U.S. Women’s National Team players Brandi Chastain, Leslie Osborne, Danielle Slaton and Aly Wagner were instrumental in getting the expansion deal done and will serve as board members. Investors have paid a record $53 million expansion fee as part of a $125 million investment.
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THE BIGGER PICTURE: Location is a huge deal in the Bay Area, a broad region in which available land is notoriously expensive and often difficult to acquire. The club could look to share space with another sports team in the short-term, but a permanent venue in San Francisco or Oakland could prove challenging to lock down, certainly before 2024.
San Jose, where the Earthquakes play, may be an alternative option, however the city is a trek for many locals north of the Silicon Valley hub. Concord has previously been floated as a spot for a USL men's location, so that could also be in play for a women's team.
WHAT THEY SAID: “The number of bids and the increase in the league’s expansion fees are indicative of both the demand that exists for women’s soccer in the professional sports landscape and the validated growth trajectory of our league,” said NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman in a statement. “We said at the start of the expansion process in July 2022 that we would be intentional in seeking out strong markets and ownership groups that not only had the structural integrity for our league to thrive, but also demonstrated a genuine commitment to investing in and creating first-rate organizations on and off the pitch.
"I am confident that this ownership group and market will help us deliver on the league’s continued transformative growth and success and look forward to watching the Bay Area club kick off in 2024.”
IN A PHOTO:
Yet another W for Brandi Chastain...
WHAT NEXT FOR BAY AREA EXPANSION? Additional details such as plans for a team name and logo could come soon, and there will be an expansion draft before the 2024 NWSL season to determine the club's roster.