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NWSL: Angel City is raking it in

Soccer

The GIST: Ahead of Friday’s start of the NWSL Challenge Cup, Angel City FC co-founder and president Julie Uhrman told SXSW attendees on Sunday that the club has already booked $35 million in sponsorship revenue, despite not yet playing a game.

March 14, 2022
HARRY HOW/GETTY IMAGES
HARRY HOW/GETTY IMAGES

The GIST: Ahead of Friday’s start of the NWSL Challenge Cup, Angel City FC co-founder and president Julie Uhrman told SXSW attendees on Sunday that the club has already booked $35 million in sponsorship revenue, despite not yet playing a game.

The context: One of two 2022 NWSL expansion franchises, Angel City FC — unlike any other NWSL team — was founded in July 2020 by big-name founders and investors including Natalie Portman, Abby Wambach, America Ferrera, Uzo Aduba and more.

  • Headlined by USWNT star Christen Press, Angel City will play their first game at 9 p.m. ET on Saturday — against fellow newcomer San Diego Wave FC — in the third annual Challenge Cup.

The details: Uhrman and leading founding investor Serena Williams’ husband Alexis Ohanian said the club has sold over 14K season tickets ahead of its first season. For context, MLS team Los Angeles FC — which shares the 22K capacity Banc of California stadium with Angel City — sold just over 18K season tickets for its 2020 season.

  • As for the $35 million, Angel City has lined up several high-profile sponsors since it was announced as an NWSL expansion team. Heinken was first on board in November 2020, and the club boasts DoorDash as its shirt sponsor.
  • And when those season ticket holders show up, Angel City will substantially surpass the NWSL’s pre-pandemic average attendance of 7K.

Zooming out: Angel City is unique in both its investment group and its approach. As co-founder Alexis Ohanian put it, they do not want to run the club like a “charity.” That marketing strategy has clearly paid off.