Could Atlanta’s long wait for an NWSL team be over soon?
In an interview with ESPN on May 4, new NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman spoke about her desire to see the league grow beyond its current 12 clubs. These include 2 new additions in 2022: Angel City FC – which plays at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles and is owned by Natalie Portman, Serena Williams and her husband Alexis Ohanian, and Jennifer Garner – and San Diego Wave FC, home of USWNT stars Abby Dahlkemper and Alex Morgan.
And with the NWSL looking to expand, Atlanta could be on the list. This is based on a report by Grant Wahl on Friday night, who says Atlanta United is one of five MLS owners bidding for an NWSL expansion team, along with Austin FC, Cincinnati FC, Real Salt Lake and Toronto FC:
Salt Lake City once had an NWSL franchise in Utah Royals FC, but it was dissolved and its player-related assets transferred to what is now the Kansas City Current after former Real Salt Lake and Utah Royals owner Dell Loy Hansen made racist comments . However, the new RSL ownership group has the option of restarting NWSL in the city, which it has committed to and is expected to top the list when 2024 is the earliest Berman said the next wave of expansion would take place.
As for Atlanta, we haven’t heard much about the league coming to the city in a while. Darren Eales explained that an expansion team would be coming “sooner rather than later”, but that was in 2019 and before the pandemic. While a new team wouldn’t come in until 2024, that gives Arthur Blank and co. ample time to put the pieces together to make it happen. Of course, Fifth Third Bank Stadium, home of the 2nd iteration of the Atlanta Beat prior to the WPS disbanding after the 2011 season, would be a suitable venue, while Herndon Stadium, home of the original WUSA Atlanta Beat in the early 2000s, which however in need of massive renovations could also find their place in the mix.
Anyway, for those interested in watching NWSL football in the city of Atlanta, the day may not be that far off.