Report: NWSL To Expand By Three Teams With One In Utah

Jan 27, 2023, 4:23 PM
NWSL logo Utah Royals...
An NWSL logo sign before the quarterfinal match of the NWSL Challenge Cup between the Houston Dash and the Utah Royals FC at Zions Bank Stadium on July 17, 2020 in Herriman, Utah. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The National Women’s Soccer League is discussing a three-team league expansion, according to the Wall Street Journal. The three teams will be located in San Francisco, Boston, and Utah.

The teams in Boston and California have agreed to pay nearly $50 million in franchise fees. Due to an arrangement made a few years ago, the Utah owners will pay between $2 million and $5 million, according to the same report.

It is rumored that Utah and San Francisco will begin play in 2024. Boston would begin at a later date.

Utah Royals Returning?

When the Utah Royals left for Kansas City in 2020, NWSL leaders agreed the Utah franchise could be revived at a later date for a set fee.

NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman is working with new Real Salt Lake ownership to come to an agreement on a new and updated fee to reactivate the franchise, according to reports.

“We’re working with them (David Blitzer and Ryan Smith) to figure out what that means,” Berman told ESPN. “The process is underway. There are steps that need to be taken still in order to be in a position to be able to say, yes, in fact, that is happening.”

When the Royals departed for Kansas City, Real Salt Lake maintained the rights to the name and branding of the Royals.

The Royals experienced great success in Utah, with an average attendance of 10,774 through the 2019 season. In 2019, this was second in the league, only behind the Portland Thorns.

The inaugural game at Rio Tinto Stadium was played in front of 19,203 fans. That game was a 2-1 victory against the Chicago Red Stars.

NWSL Expansion

The NWSL has been the most successful women’s pro soccer league in the United States.

The league has seen a recent spike in popularity. Three years ago, 166,000 people watched the NWSL championship game. The last championship game, in 2022, brought in just under 1 million viewers.

The rumored expansion would bring the league from 12 to 15 teams.

In 2020, the league expanded into Los Angeles and San Diego. Those teams payed $2 million to $5 million. The higher cost for the San Francisco and Boston team’s reflect growing interest in the decade-old league.

Chandler Holt is a Digital Sports Producer for KSLSports.com, specializing in all things basketball and football. Follow Chandler on Twitter at @ChandlerHoltKSL.

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Report: NWSL To Expand By Three Teams With One In Utah