The National Women’s Soccer League announced on Tuesday that it has awarded a 2022 expansion team to Los Angeles. A majority woman-founded group make up the founders — a first in NWSL history — led by Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman, technology venture capitalist Kara Nortman, media and gaming entrepreneur Julie Uhrman, and tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist Alexis Ohanian. The investment group includes several other celebrities and 14 former United States women’s national team players, including Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Abby Wambach.
The team’s official name and venue will be announced before the end of the year, according to a press release. For now, the group is going by the name “Angel City.”
“Today we take an exciting step by announcing the first women majority-owned and led ownership group,” Portman said. “I am thrilled by the opportunity to partner with this incredible group of people to bring a professional women’s soccer team to Los Angeles. Together, we aim to build not only a winning team on the field, but also to develop a passionately loyal fan base. We also hope to make a substantive impact on our community, committing to extending access to sports for young people in Los Angeles through our relationship with the LA84 Foundation. Sports are such a joyful way to bring people together, and this has the power to make tangible change for female athletes both in our community and in the professional sphere.”
Uhrman leads the founding investor group as president, and the list of additional investors is long:
- Tennis legend Serena Williams and daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr.
- Actors Uzo Aduba, Jessica Chastain, America Ferrera, Jennifer Garner and Eva Longoria, and late-night talk show host Lilly Singh
- Former U.S. players Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm, Rachel Buehler, Shannon Boxx, Amanda Cromwell, Lorrie Fair Allen, Ronnie Fair Sullins, Joy Fawcett, Angela Hucles, Shannon MacMillan, Tisha Venturini Hoch, and Saskia Webber, Lauren Holiday and Abby Wambach
- Author and activist Glennon Doyle, Netflix VP of original content Cindy Holland, tech entrepreneur and filmmaker Casey Neistat, Baby2Baby founding board member Sabina Nathanson, media executive David Nathanson, Baby2Baby co-president Norah Weinstein, and Bad Robot president and COO Brian Weinstein
“We took this as an opportunity to listen, talk to players, union reps, presidents and owners to develop a totally new playbook of how to build a professional sports team where mission and capital, entertainment and sport, were equally important,” Nortman said.
The addition of Racing Louisville FC in 2021 will bring the NWSL to 10 teams, which would match its highest number of teams yet, which the league had in 2016 and 2017 before the Boston Breakers folded.
“The growth trajectory of the NWSL is incredibly exciting, but we also need to be strategic and thoughtful about how fast we expand and the communities we partner with,” NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird said. “We’ve long sought the right partner in LA considering the NWSL fan base that already exists in the region and the massive interest in women’s soccer in general. Those factors, along with an incredible ownership group make this an ideal situation and we couldn’t be more thrilled to move forward.”
The group, which includes many investors with Southern California ties, plans to be actively involved in the local community. That includes joining with the LA84 Foundation.
“We come together with a collective passion for bringing about change, ” Uhrman said. “Change for our players, change for our fans, and change for our community. Change that begins today. In addition to announcing the rights to an LA NWSL team, we are thrilled to officially announce our partnership with the LA84 Foundation to help us build out our community relations foundation from the very start. To kick off our relationship, WFC LA/Angel City is now a formal supporter of the Play Equity Fund. The Play Equity Fund is committed to leveling the playing field to help ensure that all kids across Los Angeles have access and the opportunity to experience the transformational power of sport.”
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