Boston reportedly one of three cities awarded an NWSL expansion team
The team is expected to enter the women’s professional soccer league sometime after the 2024 season.
Another professional sports team will call Boston its home in the near future.
Boston is one of three cities that will be awarded a National Women’s Soccer League franchise as part of the league’s latest round of expansion, The Wall Street Journal reported. It’s unclear when the Boston team will join the league though, as the 12-team league will welcome franchises in San Francisco and Utah in 2024, according to The Wall Street Journal report.
An all-female Boston-based investment group will reportedly pay a $50 million franchise fee. Jennifer Epstein, the founder of Juno Equity and the daughter of Celtics co-owner Robert Epstein, heads the group, while Anna Palmer, Stephanie Connaughton, and Ami Kuan Danoff are managing partners, The Boston Globe’s Michael Silverman reported in December. Palmer is a general partner at Flybridge Capital, and Kuan Danoff is the co-founder and CFO of the Women’s Foundation of Boston, while Connaughton is an angel investor, advisor, and mentor with early-stage start-ups.
Linda Henry, the chief executive officer of Boston Globe Media, is one of the smaller investors in the Boston group, according to Sportico.
The reported return of professional women’s soccer to Boston comes nearly five years to the day that the Boston Breakers folded. The Breakers first played in the WUSA from 2001-03 before being re-established in 2007. They were one of the eight founding members of the NWSL in 2012, but folded on Jan. 28, 2018, after a sale of the club wasn’t able to go through.
The NWSL and women’s soccer have grown in popularity in recent years. In addition to the three reported expansion teams, the NWSL added four teams over the past two seasons. The NWSL’s next media contract is also expected “to get a lot of attention” as negotiations for the next deal reportedly hit the open market earlier in January, according to Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand.
The NWSL has been at the center of controversy though in recent months, as investigations found coaches sexually and verbally abused players, leading to multiple banishments.
Where the new Boston team will play its games is yet to be determined, but White Stadium in Franklin Park “appears to be” the leading candidate, according to Silverman. Boston mayor Michelle Wu mentioned East Boston’s Memorial Stadium as a potential home for the team in December. The Breakers played their home games at Harvard Stadium, Dilboy Stadium in Somerville, and Harvard’s Jordan Field.
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