Minnesota Aurora to submit bid to join National Women’s Soccer League

Minnesota Aurora FC will submit an official bid to join the National Women’s Soccer League by the league’s deadline Friday.

The amateur community-owned club had huge success in its first year in 2022 and will file its application to the top-flight professional league without having a principal owner that must meet wealth guidelines outlined by the U.S. Soccer Federation’s professional league standards.

“We have had great conversations and are confident that we will find the right match,” Aurora club president Andrea Yoch told the Pioneer Press on finding deep-pocketed investor(s).

Aurora, which currently plays in the “pre-professional” USL-W League, announced Oct. 24 they were trying to become a professional club in either the NWSL or the nascent USL Super League. They said they had “positive conversions” with both leagues.

Aurora will need a majority owner to take on an at least 35 percent stake in the club. That owner must demonstrate a net worth of $40 million, and overall the ownership group needs to demonstrate a net worth of $70 million, according to USSF.

NWSL is the top flight of women’s professional soccer in the U.S. The 10-year-old league has 12 current clubs after adding Angel City FC in Los Angeles and San Diego Wave FC in 2022. Both expansion clubs reported huge successes at the gate in their first seasons.

NWSL is looking to receive up to 10 meaningful bids after 82 groups showed interest, according to league commissioner Jessica Berman in multiple news reports.

The prospective expansion groups will be whittled down over the next few months and are expected to be announced as soon as early next year. The targeted date for the new clubs to begin play is either 2024 or ’25.

There is believed to be advanced competition in Utah and a Bay Area, Calif., group led by four former U.S. national team players Brandi Chastain, Aly Wagner, Leslie Osborne and Danielle Slaton. A handful of other cities are also in the competition.

The appeal is NWSL is on the upswing, with big jumps in attendance, sponsorship revenue and increasing media rights fees in the past few years. A record average viewership of 915,000 tuned in on CBS and Paramount+ for the championship match, where the Portland Thorns beat the Kansas City Current at Audi Field in Washington D.C.

Aurora provides appeal to NWSL with its 3,080 community owners. The team fundraised $1 million for its debut season in 2022, doubling its initial goal of $500,000.

Aurora also will possible do another round of community investment, they averaged $300 per investor in the initial round. They are also seeking private investors, with that bar set at a minimum of $500,000.

Aurora went unbeaten in 14 games (13-0-1) before losing in the USL W League championship game to South Georgia Tormenta at TCO Stadium in Eagan in July. Aurora had capacity crowds of more than 5,000 fans at the Vikings’ ancillary stadium, starting with its debut game in May.

Aurora will continue to play in the USL W League in 2023, with its schedule and ticket information to be released early next year.