NWSL awards expansion franchise to Boston for 2026
The National Women’s Soccer League announced Tuesday that Boston has been awarded expansion rights for the league’s 15th team to Boston Unity Soccer Partners (BUSC), an all-female core ownership group led by a diverse and dynamic leadership team with deep local ties.
The new club is set to kick off in the 2026 season, bringing world-class women’s soccer back to the country’s #9 media market to play in a region with a championship legacy for a fan base that has earned a reputation as one of the most passionate in all of global sport.
The announcement follows the addition of two other NWSL expansion teams earlier this year, Utah Royals FC and Bay FC, which are both slated to begin play in 2024. Now in its 11th season, the NWSL is the fastest-growing professional sports league in the U.S. and in 2023, shattered its previous attendance record.
“I’m excited to expand the NWSL’s footprint and continue its transformative growth in our return to Boston, one of the world’s most iconic sports cities,” said NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman. “We are very proud to welcome Boston Unity Soccer Partners to our ownership group. They bring an impressive roster of business leaders committed to continuing Boston’s legacy of sports excellence and delivering a successful team to a very passionate fanbase. We are thrilled for their entry to the league in the 2026 season and add a new chapter to the storied history of Boston sports.”
Boston Unity Soccer Partners consists of a diverse and dynamic all-female core ownership group with a wide array of experience across the real estate, marketing, hospitality and philanthropy sectors, led by Juno Equity Founder/Boston Celtics Minority Owner Jennifer Epstein, strategic marketer and brand builder Stephanie Connaughton, Women’s Foundation of Boston Co-Founder/CFO Ami Danoff and Flybridge Capital General Partner Anna Palmer. The managing board will include Epstein, who will serve as the controlling partner, and Connaughton, Danoff and Palmer, who will all serve as managing partners.
The ownership group has deep local ties to the region and shares a passion for soccer, generating opportunities for women, and enhancing the community through the power of sport. The club is backed by an investor group that comes from all sectors of the Boston economy, with 95% of the invested capital invested by women and 40% invested by investors of color. The group has deep expertise in sports with several investors who are also part of the Celtics and the Red Sox organizations. Boston Unity Soccer Partners is the first investment for Monarch Collective, the first fund focused exclusively on investment in women's sports, founded by Kara Nortman and Jasmine Robinson.
“Boston is the greatest sports city in the world, and we are thrilled to bring the NWSL back to this passionate fan base,” said Epstein. “Our goal is to build a championship-caliber franchise that the city can be proud of, both on the pitch and in the community. We will be relentless and daring in our quest to add another chapter to the city’s unrivaled sports legacy. We thank Commissioner Berman and the NWSL board for believing in us and in Boston and are grateful for the unwavering support of Mayor Michelle Wu and her team, who have been instrumental in bringing professional women’s soccer back to Boston.”
The team intends to host its home matches in a professionalized and modernized George R. White Stadium in historic Franklin Park in the heart of Boston. Boston Unity Soccer Partners plans to invest significant resources to transform the stadium into a top-tier facility and is working closely with the city of Boston and Mayor Wu’s administration on a robust renovation plan that will both enhance the venue in preparation for play in the NWSL and bring significant benefits to the students in Boston and the surrounding communities.
“As the City of Champions, Boston sets the standard for athletic excellence and fans’ devotion to our teams. It’s fitting and absolutely thrilling for Boston to be a home for women’s soccer, hosting a franchise that will partner so closely with our community and especially our schools,” said Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. “I look forward to the revitalization of White Stadium and the partnership of this team and league to create new opportunities in Franklin Park and for our student-athletes citywide.”
Boston Unity Soccer Partners plans to unveil the club’s brand as it moves closer to play in 2026. The new NWSL expansion team will strive to add to the region’s 41 total championships. The franchise will join the Celtics (NBA), Red Sox (MLB), Bruins (NHL), Patriots (NFL), Revolution (MLS), and Boston’s PWHL team as the seventh pillar of Boston’s professional sports community.