Angel City’s opening box office and attendance figures seem to be eye-watering for most of the Women’s Super League marketing departments.
The Los Angeles-based National Women’s Football League club, which counts Serena Williams, Natalie Portman and Billie Jean King among its star-studded investor group, is attracting an average of 19,000 fans per game in its rookie season.
Angel City has broken its season ticket sales target of 5,000, with 16,000 committed for the first full campaign.
The NWSL hasn’t even made it to the postseason yet and Angel City’s play-off hopes rest in part on the success of the San Diego Wave league rookies this weekend, but 90% of those season ticket holders have already committed for one more year.
“Setting such high goals for ourselves has allowed us to reach and exceed them,” Angel City founder and president Julie Uhrman told PA news agency at the Leaders Week sports business conference.
“We didn’t walk into the Banc of California Stadium that seats 22,000 people and say, ‘We want to put 5,000 people here, or we want to put 10,000 people here.’ Was it ‘how are we going to sell this’?
“It was ‘how do we create something so compelling and so unique that there’s a FOMO moment where if you’re not there, you’re missing out’?”
Last weekend’s North London derby set an attendance record of 47,367 as Arsenal beat Tottenham at the Emirates in the WSL, now in its 13th season.
It was notable, in part, for the still sporadic chance to see a top-flight women’s team on a Premier League pitch. Arsenal’s Meadow Park ground is just 4,500; Kingsmeadow, home of champions Chelsea, has a capacity of 4,850 people.
The derby was one of two Premier League stadium games over the weekend, drawing a record 89,381 across the WSL – a figure Angel City would achieve alone in five matches at their current average.
So could Keira Knightley and Adele buy their own side of the WSL? It’s not that simple, but Angel City’s success can serve as an inspiration or even a guarantee for future investors.
The WSL still remains under the control of the Football Association, with plans to soon transfer the English women’s top flight and second tier to a separate subsidiary with the FA as a shareholder, while exploring plans that could include eventual private ownership or the Premier League. involvement.
Angel City’s extensive list of investors and owners also includes former FIFA Player of the Year Abby Wambach, singer Christina Aguilera and actress Jennifer Garner.
It also features tech venture capitalist Kara Nortman and Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, husband of 23 Grand Slams winner Williams. Even their five-year-old daughter Olympia is a co-owner.
That the majority of Angel City’s top investors and decision makers are women is by design. The club is one of the only female-owned and operated professional sports teams in the world.
In tennis pioneers King and Williams, Uhrman also has stakeholders who understand what it means not to reinvent the wheel, but to carve out forays into terrain that many considered impossible.
“These are two unique individuals who know how difficult it is,” she said. “Someone has to be first. You have to be relentless. You have to fight for what is right and value yourself and be willing to say no because you are unappreciated and appreciated.”
Uhrman and his team try to cater to as many customers as possible, offering a gaming experience that includes stylish on-screen video packs and a post-game deck party.
One scheme gives players an incentive not only to encourage fans to come to Angel City games, but also to post the link to tickets – and earn a percent of gate revenue in the process.
This is in line with research showing that Gen Z is more likely to follow individual athletes than clubs.
“We want to compensate them for doing this the same way we would compensate Google for putting Ticketmaster in,” said Uhrman.
“The difference is that Christen Press has a million followers, so I’d rather she put a link to say ‘hey, come see me and my mates play.’
“It’s not a football game, it’s a spectacle in the most positive way. We are building community and enthusiasm.
“A hardcore football fan will come to Angel City, but how do I get the non-hardcore fan? I create an amazing experience where they want to be, so they fall in love with the team, fall in love with the sport, then come to football.”