It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally time to welcome the Bay Area into the NWSL. It was announced on Tuesday, April 4, that USWNT legends Brandi Chastain, Leslie Osborne, Danielle Slaton, and Aly Wagner will bring the NWSL to the Bay Area for the 2024 season. They’re joined by the global investment group Sixth Street as a majority investor for the club. Sixth Street has plenty of experience in the soccer world with investments in clubs like Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. The “Founding Football Four” as Alan Waxman, co-founder of Sixth Street, called them are more than excited to finally bring their dream to life.
“The Bay is where champions come to play,” said Chastain in a press conference regarding their vision.
Her partners in Wagner, Osborne, and Slaton echoed her excitement, with Chastain and Osborne sporting The Bay Founders Club tee shirts from their #nwsltothebay campaign. They expressed their enthusiasm about the brand they’re building, and that details such as the club name will be revealed soon.
This has been a journey three years in the making for the club founders, and they are more than ready hit the ground running. They discussed their commitment to building a world-class training facility within the next twenty-four months, and Alan cited the Kansas City Current as inspiration for the kind of facility they want to build.
With an expansion fee of over $50 million, the Bay Area will enter the league for the upcoming 2024 season.
Return of Royalty
Along with the new Bay Area team, the NWSL will also see the return of royalty in 2024. As announced back in March, the Utah Royals will be making their return to the league.
The Royals were one of the most successful teams in the NWSL in terms of fan support, with attendance averaging 11,000. The Royals folded in 2020 after their coach and leadership were outed for abusive behavior. The Royals moved to Kansas City under the new ownership of Chris and Angie Long and Brittany Mahomes.
The Royals didn’t pay as steep a price for their return to the league, with a discounted fee of $2 million. They will return to their old stomping grounds at America First Credit Union Field, which they will share with Real Salt Lake, Utah's MLS team.
America First Credit Union will feature as the Royals' jersey front partner. The Royals will be led by Michelle Hyncik as president of the club with Ryan Smith and Dave Blitzer as club owners. With a new crest and leadership, the Royals look to make a triumphant return to the league alongside the newly announced Bay Area team.
The Possibilities Are Endless
Utah and the Bay Area will be teams number #13 and #14 to join the NWSL, which will be entering its twelfth season of play in 2024. There are no plans to stop on expansion anytime soon, with Boston expected to be joining in 2025, and several other interested cities trying to make their way into the league.
Women's soccer is experiencing astounding growth in America at the moment, and women's sports, in general, are more popular than ever before. The NWSL has shattered many of their previous attendance records already this season, and viewership for the NCAA Women's March Madness final was higher than ever before. The time for investment in women's sports is here, and hopefully, we'll see more women's teams entering every league around the country.