The NWSL is becoming a bigger investment, with team valuations skyrocketing over the last few years.
When the Washington Spirit were bought in February by an investment group led by Michele Kang, the club was valued at $35 million. Gotham FC was valued at a $40 million this year, as Sportico reported, with investments from the likes of Kevin Durant, Sue Bird and Eli Manning.
Angel City FC, though, stands at the front of the pack. The expansion franchise raised money in April 2021 at a valuation of more than $100 million, Sportico reported Friday – more than double that of the next closest known NWSL franchise and an NWSL record.
Angel City features a stacked roster of celebrity owners, among them Serena Williams and several former USWNT stars including Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach. Natalie Portman, Eva Longoria and Jennifer Garner are also among the owners, while Williams’ husband and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian is the club’s lead investor.
In total, the club boasts nearly 100 owners.
Part of what goes into the valuation is how the club has acquired and prioritized sponsorship dollars. Angel City’s deals include an eight-figure deal with DoorDash, as well as partnerships with Gatorade and Heineken. There’s also a partnership with Johnnie Walker, which included the first-ever NWSL team anthem.
According to club co-founder and president Julie Uhrman, in total Angel City reportedly claimed $35 million in booked sponsorship revenue – some possibly multi-year deals and 10 percent of which is being redirected back into the community.
“I would say that Angel City has more sponsorship revenue today than two hands worth of men’s professional sports teams,” Uhrman said at a Sportico event in March. “We believe our kit is the highest grossing of any women’s team in the U.S.”
Additionally, the club sold more than 16,000 season tickets prior to the start of the season. A total of 22,000 fans showed up in the team’s first regular season game, helping to shatter the league’s average attendance record for opening weekend.
With an average of approximately 19,000 fans per game, Angel City has the highest attendance in the NWSL this season. The club is also outdrawing 14 MLS clubs and has more followers on Instagram than 19 MLS franchises.
Valuations in the NWSL stand to increase as time goes on. Broadcast deals with CBS and Amazon’s Twitch are expiring in the next few years and with increasing viewership, the NWSL should be looking for bigger and better deals.
As the league aims to expand by two new teams by 2024, the valuations appear to also be resetting that bar as well. For the first time, there will be a formal bidding process, with Sportico reporting that sources around the league feel as though the new valuations will land in the same range as the Spirit and Gotham.