Bay Area NWSL expansion in 2024 apart of a greater plan for the league

California will receive the next major pro sports franchise, through the Bay Area NWSL expansion team, joining the returning Utah Royals in Salt Lake City as the league’s 13th and 14th teams in the circuit according to an official announcement from the league.

Brandi Chastain, Leslie Osborne, Danielle Slaton, and Aly Wagner, former members of the United States women’s team, are bringing star power to the Bay Area NWSL expansion project along with large money from the international investment group Sixth Street Capital, which will spend a total of $125 million.

Wagner broadcasts NWSL games for CBS and World Cup games for Fox; Slaton serves on the board of directors of the USSF and plays a significant role in the organization’s efforts to combat abuse in women’s soccer. The Bay Area NWSL expansion team will probably compete at PayPal Park, home of the San Jose Earthquakes.

Surprisingly, the NWSL made other expansion-related announcements as well.

League growth beyond the Bay Area NWSL expansion

The announcement stated that the NWSL is still actively involved in the expansion process with a goal of adding teams #15 and #16, the first time the league has openly acknowledged a 16-team target. Boston is largely believed to host Team 15. Late in January, the Wall Street Journal published an article in which it was revealed that the Bay Area was the other significant winner in the contest for expansion.

An odd number of clubs in a league is not desirable because it makes scheduling more challenging. When asked about the timescale for growth during a news conference last month, NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman said as much. She said, though, that the league wouldn’t expand to 16 teams only to get an even number.

Nothing is more crucial than having the correct owners in place, she said, especially when it comes to their willingness to contribute as well as their financial means. The league is now at ease enough to advance in that regard. In addition to the official statement, Berman said to Equalizer Soccer that she didn’t believe there is currently a limit on where expansion can go.

She stated that the league is actively engaged in a long-term strategic planning process. However, to better understand the short term, the league must first determine what size it wants to be and when it wants to be it. Even after that process, sources inside the league office say they don’t think the league will be able to claim that it will only be a16 team league. The league office believes that there is much more room for progress for women’s soccer in our nation.

The balance of ambition and restraint seems reasonable. There is no doubt that the Bay Area NWSL expansion team has raised the bar for potential contenders in the near term.

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