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Saturday, February 24, 2024
Rates for the 2024 Best Venue Awards increase this Sunday at 11:59 p.m. ET

Push To Bring NWSL To Cleveland Has Strong Local Support

  • The NWSL wants to add one more team in 2026 to expand to 16 franchises.
  • Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is interested in helping promote a club.
A view of the 2023-24 NWSL season match ball.
Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

The NWSL is expanding at a rapid pace — and one NBA team owner wants in.

Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert’s Rock Entertainment Group is partnering with another local soccer-focused organization to attract an NWSL expansion club. As of now, Gilbert would not be part of a prospective ownership group, though.

The league currently has 12 teams but will expand to 14 in 2024 with the addition of Bay FC, as well as a revival of the Utah Royals under new ownership. In 2026, A Boston franchise will enter the league, bringing it to 15 clubs.

NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman has publicly stated her desire to also enter a 16th team into the league in 2026. Both the Boston and Bay Area ownership groups are paying about $50 million in expansion fees — record figures for the league.

The NWSL — which is in the midst of its playoffs and will crown its champion on Nov. 11 — is also close to sealing a new set of media rights deals

Women’s Sports Momentum

The NWSL’s momentum is part of a larger trend of women’s sports seeing new investment in the U.S. and around the world.

Two expansion WNBA teams will enter the league in 2025, with the Bay Area franchise believed to be paying $50 million. And in recent months, women’s sports have been breaking attendance records in both pro and college sports.

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