LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The National Women’s Soccer League announced Tuesday that a majority woman-founded group led by Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman and including tennis star Serena Williams has secured the exclusive right to bring a professional women’s soccer team to Los Angeles to kick off in the spring of 2022.
While the team’s official name and venue partner will be announced before the end of the year, the group has formally coined itself “Angel City” in honor of its planned home in Los Angeles, the league said in a statement.
“Today we take an exciting step by announcing the first women majority-owned and led ownership group,” Portman said. “I am thrilled by the opportunity to partner with this incredible group of people to bring a professional women’s soccer team to Los Angeles. Together, we aim to build not only a winning team on the field, but also to develop a passionately loyal fan base.”
Led by media and gaming entrepreneur Julie Uhrman, the consortium president, the founding investor group also includes actors Uzo Aduba, Jessica Chastain, America Ferrera, Jennifer Garner, and Eva Longoria; late night talk show host Lilly Singh; and former U.S. Women’s National Team players Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm, Rachel Buehler, Shannon Boxx, Amanda Cromwell, Lorrie Fair Allen, Ronnie Fair Sullins, Joy Fawcett, Angela Hucles, Shannon MacMillan, Tisha Venturini Hoch and Saskia Webber.
Also among the founders are two-time Olympic gold medalist and FIFA World Cup Champions Lauren Cheney Holiday and Abby Wambach; author/activist Glennon Doyle; Netflix executive Cindy Holland; tech entrepreneur and filmmaker Casey Neistat; Baby2Baby founding board member Sabina Nathanson; media executive David Nathanson; Baby2Baby Co-President Norah Weinstein; and Bad Robot President and COO Brian Weinstein.
“The growth trajectory of the NWSL is incredibly exciting, but we also need to be strategic and thoughtful about how fast we expand and the communities we partner with,” NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird said. “We’ve long sought the right partner in LA considering the NWSL fanbase that already exists in the region and the massive interest in women’s soccer in general. Those factors, along with an incredible ownership group, make this an ideal situation and we couldn’t be more thrilled to move forward.”
Uhrman announced that the founding group had formed a partnership with the LA84 Foundation “to help us build out our community relations foundation from the very start.” The nonprofit foundation was created by the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee to manage Southern California’s endowment from the 1984 Olympic Games.
Portman added: “We also hope to make a substantive impact on our community, committing to extending access to sports for young people in Los Angeles through our relationship with the LA84 Foundation. Sports are such a joyful way to bring people together, and this has the power to make tangible change for female athletes both in our community and in the professional sphere.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti welcomed the news.
“Los Angeles is the ultimate stage: where fans fill our stadiums, players become iconic and teams become champions,” he said. “Today, I’m very proud to welcome the Angel City women’s soccer team to the best sports town in America, and when they take the field in 2022, a generation of young girls and women from our community will be able to see themselves playing at the highest level of their sport. I can’t wait to put on my jersey and cheer on our newest team as they write their chapter in L.A.’s long history of sports excellence.”