NWSL awards 14th franchise to Sixth Street backed Bay Area team

April 5 – The top tier National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in the US has awarded an expansion franchise to an investment group who will set up an as yet unnamed team in the Bay Area in Northern California.

Investment firm Sixth Street is putting its money behind the initiative of four former US Women’s National Team players – Brandi Chastain, Leslie Osborne, Danielle Slaton, and Aly Wagner – who had been looking for partners to bring an NWSL franchise to the Bay Area.

The team name and colours are to be announced in the coming weeks, and while the home stadium has not been announced, the club is likely to play at San Jose’s PayPal Park, home of MLS side San Jose Earthquakes.

The Bay Area team will be the 14th team in the NWSL and will start play in the 2024 season. Last month the Utah Royals were announced as the 13th team in the league. Two more franchises are expected to be announced for the start of 2024 season.

The cost of entry for the Bay Area franchise has been reported as $53 million with Sixth Street committing to invest an initial $125 million into the team, including the construction of a training facility.

Sixth Street is not a newcomer to sports having investments with Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, in Spain, and the San Antonio Spurs NBA team.

Alan Waxman, co-chair of the club and co-founder and CEO of Sixth Street, said: “We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with this legendary group, who are lifelong role models to a generation of women, and we look forward to working with them to build a championship franchise on and off the field. We believe that many years from now, we will look back at today as a landmark moment in Bay Area sports history, and a turning point for large-scale investment in women’s sports.”

The majority female board will include the four founders as Sheryl Sandberg, former chief operating officer of Facebook, and Rick Welts, who stepped down as president of San Francisco-based NBA team the Golden State Warriors in 2021.

The Sixth Street investment is likely to attract increased interest from private equity in partnering in NWSL franchises.

“The number of bids and the increase in the league’s expansion fees are indicative of both the demand that exists for women’s soccer in the professional sports landscape and the validated growth trajectory of our league,” said NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman.

“We said at the start of the expansion process in July 2022 that we would be intentional in seeking out strong markets and ownership groups that not only had the structural integrity for our league to thrive, but also demonstrated a genuine commitment to investing in and creating first-rate organizations on and off the pitch.”

The speed of development of properly funded NWSL teams that will have the backing to become sustainable franchises is increasing as the scale of the opportunity in the women’s game becomes clearer and the growth of the women’s game shows little sign of slowing.

“The Bay Area is where this all began,” said Brandi Chastain, Co-Founder of the Club, Santa Clara ’90, two-time FIFA World Cup champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist. “We are as excited about what this club will achieve on the field of play as we are for what it will represent for generations of women athletes and professionals yet to come.”

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1681806729labto1681806729ofdlr1681806729owedi1681806729sni@n1681806729osloh1681806729cin.l1681806729uap1681806729