May 17 – The NWSL professional women’s league in the US is set to have a new rival with the USL Super League announcing the first eight teams and markets for the top tier licensed league that is scheduled to start play in August 2024.
The USL has had tremendous success building its men’s second and third tier leagues, as well as the phenomenal pace of growth of its pre-professional women’s league which began play in May 2022 and now has 65 teams in 10 divisions.
Making the case for more professional women’s teams, the USL pointed out that there are 101 professional men’s teams in the US but only 12 professional women’s teams.
The USL Super League will follow the European calendar playing from August to May, and will start with 10-12 team but is expected to rapidly grow to 20.
“Today marks a major milestone for the United Soccer League as we take another step in building an integrated women’s soccer network unlike any other,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said.
“Our aim is to make the USL Super League globally recognized and admired for its financial stability, operational excellence, community building and high-level competition. We are establishing and growing our national footprint while ensuring that all our teams are owners or primary tenants of a soccer stadium. We are aligning our calendar and roster rules with the global game…”
“The USL Super League will sit at the top of our women’s pyramid with strong ownership groups, modern stadiums, and passionate fans that will deliver immediate viability and long-term sustainability,” continued Papadakis.
The USL Super League will establish teams in Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Lexington, Phoenix, Spokane, Tampa Bay, Tucson, and Washington, D.C. The league is also looking at Chattanooga, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Madison, and Oakland for future years, pending stadium projects in those cities.
The USL said that “multiple expansion teams are confirmed to join the league” but that this will only happen once stadium and infrastructure projects have been completed.
In the coming months, the USL Super League will announce additional markets whose clubs will play in the inaugural season, and additional markets for future expansion.
USL Super League President Amanda Vandervort said: “Our aim is to significantly expand opportunities in women’s soccer through strategic growth, build a pathway that connects talent with opportunity, and engage communities by celebrating a universal passion for the game expressed through local culture
“The USL Super League aspires to be a global leader in women’s football, and we look forward to working together with all stakeholders to help shape the future of the game for women and girls in our country, across the region, and around the world.”
The league is partnering with global premium experiences company Legends to support sales and stadium commercial opportunities, leading global agencies to help drive its media and commercial interests. Octagon for the media rights sales process and sports marketing agency SPORTFIVE for international media distribution partnerships across television and digital platforms.
Initial Markets for Inaugural 2024 Season:
- Charlotte, N.C. – Carolina will play their home matches in the historic American Legion Memorial Stadium, which is located in Charlotte’s urban core, and was renovated in 2021. Local sports business entrepreneur Jim McPhilliamy will lead the formation of the club’s ownership group.
- Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas – Dallas/Fort Worth, led by the Neil Family, will be the first professional women’s soccer team in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The Neil family represents over 40 years of Real Estate Investment Banking, current and former athletes in US Soccer / US Deaf Soccer and professional baseball, sports tech entrepreneurship, advertising, and decades spent in support of youth sports in North Texas. Multiple stadium options are being considered
- Lexington, Ky– Led by Lexington Sporting Club owner Bill Shively and his wife, Dixiana Farms co-owner Donna Shively, along with business partner Stephen Dawahare. The club is currently working to bring a 6,500-seat stadium and a training and medical complex to the Commonwealth.
- Phoenix, Ariz. – Led by the Phoenix Rising FC ownership group, Phoenix will play at their new, centrally located and easily accessible stadium location, just north of Sky Harbor International Airport.
- Spokane, Wash – Aequus Sports, LLC, an investor group led by Spokane natives Ryan Harnetiaux, and Katie Harnetiaux. The club will play in a new 5,500 seat stadium currently under construction and located in the North Bank Arts and Entertainment District.
- Tampa Bay, Fla – Led by local real-estate developer Darryl Shaw, restaurateur, and former professional sports team owner David Laxer, and tech executive Jeff Fox, USL Super League Tampa Bay is exploring temporary stadium sites for the inaugural 2024 season with long-term plans to build a centrally located soccer-specific stadium.
- Tucson, Ariz. – Led by FC Tucson owner Jon Pearlman and RightSure Insurance founder, best-selling author, and club chairperson Jeff Arnold, Tucson is considering multiple stadium options.The location will be announced in the coming months.
- Washington, D.C. – Attain Sports and Entertainment (AS&E), led by Founder and CEO Greg Baroni is in partnership with D.C. United.
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