NWSL Is Looking At The Final Bids For An Expansion Franchise

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The league plans to announce  an expansion site later this year.

The National Women’s Soccer League is in the home stretch and apparently has identified a number of markets that the league and Inner Circle Sports will now review in the process of awarding an expansion franchise sometime between October and December. Investors in Cincinnati, in Cleveland and in Minneapolis-St. Paul want a team. There could be other contenders from Atlanta, Denver, Jacksonville and Nashville where local groups could be interested in buying a NWSL franchise. Whoever ends up with a team is going to be paying substantially more than the owners of the teams did in 2012 when the league formed.

The NWSL has 14 active teams and has a Boston team in the wings. The league is looking for another market to go along with Boston in 2026. In November 2023, 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 play in 2013 and has struggled during its existence.

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