Southern California’s fledging NWSL team officially has a name and some big-name new investors.
The club formally adopted its working title, Angel City Football Club, according to Julie Uhrman, the team’s founder and president. Its group of owner-investors grew to more than 50 with the addition of tennis legend Billie Jean King and her partner Ilana Kloss; WNBA star Candace Parker and her daughter, Lailaa; NHL star P.K. Subban and fiancée Lindsey Vonn, an Olympic champion skier; actor and talk-show host James Corden; actress and activist Sophia Bush; former Galaxy and U.S. national team star Cobi Jones; and five-time Pro Bowl lineman Ryan Kalil.
The team, which will begin play in 2022 as the first major U.S. professional sports team with a majority-woman ownership group, was founded by Uhrman, actress Natalie Portman and venture capitalist Kara Nortman. Its original investor group, announced in July, includes tennis star Serena Williams and her husband, tech entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian; 14 former U.S. national team soccer players, among them Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach; and actresses Eva Longoria, Jessica Chastain, America Ferrera and Jennifer Garner.
Last week Angel City announced a civic-minded sponsorship model that will require its corporate partners to re-allocate 10% of the value of their sponsorships to local causes.
“We need everyone to invest in women’s sports and Ilana and I are proud to stand with the Angel City FC ownership group and help make history in Southern California,” said King, a trailblazing tennis player and activist who is also a part owner of the Dodgers. “Angel City’s mission to make an impact on and off the field and to provide an opportunity to some of the best professional female athletes in the world to play on a stage as powerful as Los Angeles sends a strong message to young girls in the community and beyond.”
The eight-year-old NWSL, which played with nine teams this year, is scheduled to add a franchise in Louisville, Ky., next season and in Sacramento sometime in the next two years. Angel City will become the league’s 12th team when it begins play in 2022.
Southern California hasn’t had a first-tier women’s soccer team since the Los Angeles Sol folded in 2010 after one season. The Sol — whose roster included Brazilian star Marta, Japan’s Aya Miyama, star of the 2011 World Cup, and U.S. national team players McCall Zerboni, Aly Wagner and Shannon Boxx — finished atop the league standings but lost in the playoff final in its only season.