NWSL Seeking 2 Expansion Teams, Expects 5-10 Official Bids by Nov. 4 Deadline

Doric SamNovember 1, 2022

HARRISON, NJ - JUNE 19:  A  general view of the National Womens Soccer League logo on the scoreboard during the first half of the NWSL soccer game between NJ/NY Gotham FC and San Diego Wave FC on June 19, 2022 at Red Bull Arena in HArrison, NJ.  (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NWSL is planning to add two expansion teams to its 12-club roster by the 2024 season, and there is reportedly a surplus of interested investors.

According to Abigail Gentrup of Front Office Sports, NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman said recently that she expects to receive "five-to-10 official bids" prior to the Nov. 4 deadline following interest from "82 groups."

Gentrup noted that a frontrunner appears to have already emerged.

"When David Blitzer and Ryan Smith purchased MLS’ Real Salt Lake earlier this year—reportedly for nearly $400 million—the deal included a reported $2 million option to revive the Utah Royals, which dissolved in 2020," Gentrup wrote.

An official decision on expansion franchises is expected to be announced in early 2023. Per Gentrup, Kansas City Current owner Angie Long recently said the next owners to join the NWSL could end up paying "upwards of $50 million" in expansion fees.

The NWSL is as popular as it's ever been, as the league's 10th season in 2022 saw multiple attendance records throughout the year. This past Saturday's championship match between the Current and the Portland Thorns was the league's first prime-time title game, and it drew a record 915,000 viewers, which was a 71 percent increase from last year.

Earlier in October, an independent investigation found that the NWSL was a league "in which abuse and misconduct—verbal and emotional abuse and sexual misconduct—had become systemic, spanning multiple teams, coaches, and victims." However, Berman said that the findings from the investigation have not affected interest from investors for potential expansion teams.

"We need people around the table who are willing to face down the challenges that women face in society and are willing to do the hard work to solve those challenges in the NWSL," she said.