The NWSL officially awarded Boston an expansion team
The GIST: Pro women's soccer is officially shipping (back) up to Boston. Yesterday, the NWSL announced an expansion franchise for the city that will kick off in 2026, eight years after the league’s former Boston Breakers club folded. Putting the "blazer" in trailblazer.
The ownership: The expansion bid was awarded to Boston Unity Soccer Partners, a diverse, all-women core ownership group with deep local ties and extensive sports expertise, led by Juno Equity founder and Boston Celtics minority owner Jennifer Epstein. Ninety-five percent of the group’s capital will come from women, with 40% from investors of color.
- Although the sale price hasn't been disclosed, the org is expected to spend more than $100M total on establishing the franchise, including a $53M expansion fee to join the league and $30M for refurbishing 11K-seater White Stadium.
- It's also the inaugural investment for Monarch Collective, the first private equity fund focused exclusively on investment in women's sports. Spreading their wings.
The city: Beantown boasts 38 championships for its four major sports franchises — not counting the Boston Renegades' six WFA titles or the Boston Pride's three Isobel Cups. As the Renegades, Pride, and the PWHL's inclusion of Boston demonstrates, there’s a solid appetite for women’s sports. Coupled with the area's historic ties to the beautiful game, it's no wonder the Breakers drew a 21K home opener crowd in 2001.
- And although the Breakers folded due to financial issues, a lot has changed for the NWSL in 6 years. Across the league, weekly average attendance has risen from 5K in 2017 to 11.5K so far in 2023, with the San Diego Wave and Angel City FC averaging close to 20K fans per game.
NWSL growth: The soccer league is growing across every significant metric, and its triumphant return to Boston is promising news. As the 2023 season winds down, the NWSL has already set an attendance record that marks two consecutive years of over 1M total fans and will make an estimated $26M in sponsorship revenue this year. Onwards and upwards.