The Cost For A NWSL Expansion Franchise Has Gone Up

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The Portland franchise was sold for a record amount of money.

It has just gotten more expensive to purchase an expansion team in the National Women’s Soccer League because of the sale of the Portland Thorns by Merritt Paulson to RAJ Sports for a reported $63 million. Women’s sports in the United States has become a hot commodity in the past year. The NWSL awarded two expansion franchises to investors in the San Francisco Bay Area and Boston in 2023 and got $53 million each for handing out two teams. The San Francisco Bay Area franchise called Bay Football Club will start playing in San Jose this year while Boston backers will have a team playing in 2026. The NWSL has 14 active teams and has the Boston team in the wings. The league is looking for another market to go along with Boston in 2026. Last November, the league’s commissioner Jessica Berman said that there were “more than a dozen qualified investor groups from different markets around the U.S. who are extremely interested in the kinds of investment.” There is no clear cut favorite in the race to get an expansion team.

It has been a long road for professional women’s soccer leagues in the United States. The thought in 1999, after the United States Women’s National Team won the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, that it was time to launch a league. It appeared women’s soccer found the right combination of financial support with the establishment of the Women’s United Soccer Association in 2001. The WUSA had the 1999 players and solid backing from the cable TV industry, including ESPN, Turner Sports, and PAX Net. The WUSA could not attract an audience to fill the stands or watch games on TV. It folded in 2003. Women’s Professional Soccer started in 2009 and folded in 2012.  The NWSL started in 2013 and has struggled during its existence.

Evan Weiner’s books are available at iTunes – https://books.apple.com/us/author/evan-weiner/id595575191

Evan can be reached at evan_weiner@hotmail.com

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