NWSL heads to California
The GIST: The NWSL continues to receive love from the Golden State. The African American Sports & Entertainment Group (AASEG) and The Town FC announced Wednesday that they are exploring a joint expansion bid in the Oakland-East Bay region, and plan to formally submit their candidacy in 2024 or 2025.
The groups: Oakland-based AASEG has its sights set on more than just women’s soccer — the group also aims to bring a WNBA franchise and the first Black-owned NFL team to the area. Its plans are centered around building multi-use facilities and buying a 50% stake in the Coliseum complex, land jointly owned by the city and MLB’s Oakland Athletics.
- The Town FC, meanwhile, is a group focused specifically on bringing both women’s and men’s professional soccer to Oakland.
The details: A proposed soccer club would also include developing youth teams and running adult amateur soccer leagues. The groups haven’t locked in a location yet — the Coliseum complex is an option, but fields in nearby Fremont and St. Mary’s College in Moraga are also contenders.
- The prospective buyers will have the women’s team play in the amateur Women’s Premier Soccer League before submitting a bid to the NWSL, borrowing a tactic from MLS expansion teams who built followings while competing in lower divisions.
The competition: This bid is not intended for today’s expansion entry deadline, but a nearby party’s likely is. A South Bay–located group, led by four former USWNT players, went public with its interest in June and has held conversations with the Oakland group.
- The Town FC co-founder EL Johnson recently said that having multiple soccer teams in the area “has always been a part of our roadmap. … Knowing there is a group in the South Bay, there is a potential to have two teams here.”
- The group may also compete for fans with the third-tier Oakland Soul, though the team has not expressed plans to join the NWSL.
Zooming out: Although the NWSL hasn’t outlined plans for further expansion once its current search ends, early interest highlights just how coveted a spot in the league is. The advance bid also comes on the heels of the NWSL’s successful first year in California with new clubs Angel City FC and San Diego Wave. Driving in the sun.