The NWSL is growing; the newest addition will be Angel City FC, a club announced back in July and the crest and name revealed on October 21st, 2020. With the addition of Racing Louisville FC coming in 2021, the NWSL will have 11 clubs in action at the start of 2022 season. The NWSL is growing in popularity with both fans and investors; how big can the NWSL grow in the next 10 to 15 years? Will San Antonio join the expansion race for a women’s professional soccer club?
Angel City FC is a culmination of an organic fan based petition and support along with financial backing from several former USWNT members, Hollywood celebs, sports stars and business owners. It appears like a set up for success, a large fan base and lots of support financially.
“The growth trajectory of the NWSL is incredibly exciting, but we also need to be strategic and thoughtful about how fast we expand and the communities we partner with,” NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird said. “We’ve long sought the right partner in LA considering the NWSL fanbase that already exists in the region and the massive interest in women’s soccer in general. Those factors, along with an incredible ownership group make this an ideal situation and we couldn’t be more thrilled to move forward.” – from NWSL press release dated July 21, 2020
Other Cities Showing Interest
Sacramento – Sacramento Republic is not resting with the announcement of entering MLS, they also are interested in a women’s professional team and joining the NWSL. Right now Sacramento is the city most likely to get a NWSL expansion team next. No time line has been set, more than likely it will be after they get their feet wet in MLS play. Sacramento is a growing market and bring Angel City FC an in-state rival.
“We will continue our talks with Lisa Baird, the new commissioner, who’s also going through a lot this year, as well as the Board of Governors on the NWSL front to hopefully fulfill our dream of bringing an NWSL team to this region. And when we’re there, and hopefully we do get there, we’ll be excited to share the news with everyone,” – Sacramento Republic Team President Ben Gumpert
Atlanta – Another MLS side has shown active interest in NWSL, Atlanta United wants bring another club to the Southeast to join Orlando Pride. Could make for a great south-east derby. There was hope to join by 2021 but with the current situation in the world, Atlanta has not been public in the past year about bringing an expansion women’s team. No real time line has been set for Atlanta to join the NWSL.
“We’ve had very preliminary discussions with the National Women’s Soccer League about a possible franchise in Atlanta,” Brett Jewkes, chief communications officer for Arthur M. Blank Sports and Entertainment, the Five Stripes’ parent company, told the AJC’s Doug Roberson in an email on Monday. – from a October 29, 2019 MLS press release
Indianapolis – The Indy XI had aspirations of joining MLS as little as a year ago, with plans to build a 20,000 seat stadium along with a neighborhood development next to the stadium. Right now, Indy still looks to move out of Luca Oil Field and move into a smaller yet to built 12,000 stadium on the same site. Indy XI leadership has also seen the growth of the NWSL and are interested in bringing a women’s club to the Mid-west region. At this time, it appears that Indy XI’s interest in starting a women’s team is long term, a few years down the road.
Once a stadium is constructed, [Indy Eleven CEO Greg] Stremlaw said, the team expects to move forward with bringing a women’s team to central Indiana.
Hartford – There is serious interest in bringing a NWSL club to Connecticut, Hartford already has a professional team with USL side Hartford Athletic and attendance and the soccer fan base has been growing. the NWSL has not had a club in the New England region since the Boston Breakers. Backers are Kristine Lilly from the USWNT, Mohegan Sun Sports and a local real estate investor. Lilly has stated she wanted New England to be part of the name to gain interest from the whole region.
Other Cities with Potential –
Although there has not been any official bids or interest yet from investors, the following cities could have future NWSL clubs in the next 15 years or so: Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas, St. Louis, Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Diego
Where does San Antonio fit?
So far, there has been little public interest from potential investors to bring a NWSL club to the Alamo City. While there has been fan interest to bring a NWSL club not much has come it recently. San Antonio would be a good fit as a market for the NWSL. Houston Dash is just three hours away and would be a instant Texas Derby. There are potential stadiums a NWSL club could call home, Alamodome, Toyota Field and UIW’s Gayle and Tom Benson Stadium would be suitable sites for a women’s professional soccer club. There are plenty of potential investors in the area that if they show any interest could bid for NWSL expansion for San Antonio.
Women’s soccer has grown exponentially in the last few years. We have seen high school soccer teams and local clubs/academies produce high quality players and colleges like OLLU has enjoyed recent success at the NAIA level, while UTSA and UIW women’s soccer teams are emerging as conference threats in the NCAA.
If San Antonio is to get a NWSL team, it will have to follow a path similar to Los Angeles. Certain things are already in place but work remains to be done. San Antonio has the population and market to support a NWSL team. The infrastructure is in place, potential investor and sponsors (i.e SS&E and SAFC) could put a lot of money into bringing a club to San Antonio. It will have to begin with a fan driven demand to bring a team, there is a petition available to get attention of the NWSL and potential investors. When and if a NWSL club will come to San Antonio remains to be seen, but if one comes it would be successful club in an growing league in women’s professional sports.