Bay Area gets National Women's Soccer League expansion team

A new professional women's sports team is headed to the Bay Area.

The National Women's Soccer League announced the latest expansion team will be established for the 2024 season. Owners will include Brandi Chastain, Leslie Osborne, Aly Wagner, and Danielle Slatonin. They began lobbying three years ago to land a pro women's team. 

"Bringing an NWLS team to the Bay Area has been a dream of ours," said Osborne.

"There’s joy, excitement, a little bit of nerves. And then the weight of responsibility that comes along with an opportunity as big as this," added Slatonin.

The last local pro women’s soccer ended in 2010, when the FC Gold Pride folded, which left a void.

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"Ever since that folded, everybody has been wanting that opportunity to go to games, to support. And for the young female to have an example right here in their hometown," said Tina Estrada, head coach of the San Jose State University women’s soccer team.

Investors have agreed. They believe that in the next decade, women’s soccer will be at economic parity with men’s.

Sixth Street Partners, which is also an investor in FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and the San Antonio Spurs, invested $125 million in new capital to help with the expansion.

"Ultimately, economic data will follow reality will follow the data. It’s at the beginning of happening," said CEO Alan Waxman. "And that’s why we’re making the single largest investment in women’s soccer."

Young women and girls in the early stages of their soccer journey said seeing professionals who look like them opens a path to elite-level play.

"I think this just opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for young girls aspiring to play," said Sophie Murdock, a soccer player for Saint Francis High School in Mountain View.

Added parent Sandra Lin, "She’s looking forward to having those role models right here. Who she can look up to and watch locally."

The women behind the new team believe their efforts will have broad impact.

"I think our breath and our width of impact can be in the nine counties, along the nine bridges, but globally," said Chastain.

Former Facebook and Meta Platforms executive Sheryl Sandberg is joining as a board member, the Chronicle reported.

The team's name and where they will play in the Bay has not been announced yet, but PayPal Stadium is an option.

Players will report to the Bay Area in Jan. 2024 to begin working on their upcoming season.