The 12-team NWSL, which expands to 14 clubs in 2024 with the arrival of the San Francisco area's Bay FC and the revived Utah Royals, has awarded expansion rights for a 15th team to Boston Unity Soccer Partners (BUSC).
The move brings women's pro soccer back to Boston, which after the 2017 NWSL season lost the Boston Breakers — before their demise the only team whose name covered all 11 seasons of women's pro soccer: WUSA (2001-03), WPS (2009-11) and the NWSL (2013-17), plus the semipro WPSL Elite in 2012.
BUSC is an all-female core ownership group whose controlling manager is Jennifer Epstein, the founder of Juno Equity and a minority owner of the NBA's Boston Celtics. The managing board also includes Stephanie Connaughton (strategic marketer and brand builder), Ami Danoff (Women’s Foundation of Boston Co-Founder/CFO) and Anna Palmer (Flybridge Capital General Partner).
The team is slated to begin NWSL play in 2026.
BUSC plans to collaborate with the City of Boston to renovate the 78-year-old White Stadium. The 10,000-seat venue is located in Franklin Park and is currently run and used by Boston Public School athletics for events including football games, track meets and summer camps.
“I look forward to the revitalization of White Stadium and the partnership of this team and league to create new opportunities in Franklin Park and for our student-athletes citywide,” said Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, who hosted NWSL representatives and the team's new owners for the official announcement on Tuesday at City Hall Plaza.
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Investors in BUSC include Monarch Collective, a fund founded by Kara Nortman and Jasmine Robinson that focuses on investment in women's sports.
Angel City FC and the San Diego Wave, founded in 2020 and 2021, respectively, to join the NWSL for the 2022 season, paid expansion fees of $2 million-$5 million. After exercising their option on a team to replace the former Utah Royals, who folded after the 2020 season, the Royals owners paid in a similar range.
“The landscape has really changed dramatically in the last five years,” Epstein said. “There’s a lot of attention on women’s sports right now, a global rise in fandom in not just women’s sports but in particular around women’s soccer. It’s a great moment in time. There’s a lot of momentum in the league."