NWSL awards franchise to Boston for 2026 season kickoff

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.

SA Reading: The legacy of the Boston Breakers  By Paul Kennedy (January 2018)

Investors in BUSC include Monarch Collective, a fund founded by Kara Nortman and Jasmine Robinson that focuses on investment in women's sports.

BUSC paid the same expansion fee, $53 million, as Bay FC, and is set to spend another $50 million on White Stadium's refurbishment, operational costs and a separate training facility.

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."

6 comments about "NWSL awards franchise to Boston for 2026 season kickoff".
  1. frank schoon, September 20, 2023 at 8:40 a.m.

    You've got to be kidding....where are we going to find enough women of professional soccer quality to fill the positions on the field for Women's teams that are sprouting up like weeds....

  2. Bob Ashpole replied, September 20, 2023 at 1:15 p.m.

    In my experience there are relatively a lot of former female college players. The difference is being a professional athlete is not high on the bucket list for most of them. So I see the problem as figuring out how to tempt the better players. The NWSL scandals have to have hurt recruiting.

    Just like in Spain. The current scandal is a major setback for the sport in Spain for women.

    I am not trying to convince you that the quality of the players is high by your standards, just that the problem is one of attracting the best players. Establishing a club is not enough. The club needs to establish a good reputation.

  3. frank schoon replied, September 20, 2023 at 2:58 p.m.

    Bob, when you watch women's college soccer there is just enough talent out there to fill these pro teams. The level of soccer played is just not good. Sure you can fill the spots for a pro-team but the quality of soccer offered is not great...

  4. Bob Ashpole replied, September 20, 2023 at 11:18 p.m.

    Keep in mind historically the US draws some of the best players from other countries as well. The new leagues in EUFA compete with what used to be a US monopoly, but we still attract some top foreign players.

    My understanding is that one of the problems of the past 10 years has been a decrease in quality of the typical US player and a quality gap between foreign players and US players. USSF tells us what a great success they have had, but then the DA isn't around any longer and you never hear anything about ODP.

  5. frank schoon replied, September 21, 2023 at 9:31 a.m.

    Bob, the rest of the world still looks up to the US soccer women's expericence and that we here still produce the most soccer 'quality' players. Look at the foreign women playing here as pros...do any of them set the world on fire as playing soccer here....The spanish women as a team player better quality of soccer but taken as an individual playing here...what have any of them done so far.....
    I just think that the investors here who want to invest in soccer are going a little too fast with the growth.....

  6. Bob Ashpole replied, September 21, 2023 at 12:28 p.m.

    Frank, the investors are looking at less expensive alternatives to MLS franchises. Second and third division clubs and NWSL clubs are the obvious alternatives. It is the lack of other opportunities that is driving the investors to NWSL.

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