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NWSL set for return to Boston

Images: Boston Unity Soccer Partners

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) is set to again feature a Boston franchise, with the team’s ownership group proposing to redevelop White Stadium to serve as its home.

The NWSL has awarded expansion rights for the League’s 15th team to Boston Unity Soccer Partners (BUSC), an all-female core ownership group led by a 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 Boston. Previously, the Boston Breakers played in four different leagues – WUSA, Women’s Professional Soccer, Women’s Premier League Soccer Elite and the NWSL – between 2001 and 2018, before folding.

BUSC is led by Juno Equity founder and 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 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 colour. The group has several investors who are also part of the organisations of the city’s MLB and NBA teams, the Red Sox and Celtics. BUSC is also the first investment for Monarch Collective, which officially launched in March as the first fund focused exclusively on investment in women’s sports.

The team intends to host its home matches in a professionalised and modernised White Stadium, which is located in historic Franklin Park in the heart of Boston. BUSC 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 Michelle Wu’s administration on a renovation plan that aims to both enhance the venue in preparation for play in the NWSL and bring significant benefits to students in Boston and the surrounding communities.

Owned by Boston Public Schools, White Stadium first opened in 1949. BUSC’s current proposal, available through the team’s website, is to expand seating capacity to around 11,000 and add an event space entitled ‘The Grove’.

The stadium is currently out of compliance with building codes, has had significant fire damage, and lacks accessible accommodations. Under a project expected to cost $30m-plus (£24.2m/€28m), Boston Unity proposes to renovate and add to the existing West grandstand, improve the field and environs, and add The Grove in the fenced in area south of the track.

It is understood that the City of Boston will renovate the east grandstand, while Boston Unity will contribute funds for the roof cover for the east grandstand.

“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-calibre 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 unrivalled sports legacy.”
 
Yesterday’s (Tuesday’s) 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. “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.”