Commissioner Jessica Burman comments on surge of interest in NWSL

Lizzy Becherano
The game between the North Carolina Courage vs Angel City FC set NWSL attendance records.
The game between the North Carolina Courage vs Angel City FC set NWSL attendance records. / Meg Oliphant/GettyImages

NWSL expansion team Angel City broke the league’s attendance record during their opening game against the North Carolina Courage on April 29, an achievement Commissioner Jessica Burman attributes to the surge of interest in the women’s game. 

While the average attendance for games this season stood at over 10,000 per match, Angel City led with a 22,000 sellout audience in downtown Los Angeles.   

"There were 22,000 people there who bought tickets and were wearing their Angel City merchandise head to toe," Berman said Wednesday at the espnW Summit in New York City.

"If the crowd could speak it would say, 'Challenge accepted.' Enough with the proof of concept. What else do we need to do to prove that women's sports has business value and people are ready to show up and support women's sports? The environment is there, the business community is showing up, the fans are showing up, the players are excited and engaged. The time is now."

Burman is not wrong, the league is growing at an exponential rate. The previous record average was 7,880 fans per game in 2016, according to Soccer America. 

As the NWSL continues to grow, both fans and sponsors are taking notice. Earlier this week, two-time NBA Champion Kevin Durant joined NJ/NY Gotham FC as a minority investor, alongside Carli Lloyd as she joined the ownership group in April. 

"It's going to be a challenge to figure out who we admit into the league with so many qualified and interested investors," Berman said. "It's a good problem to have."

But excitement for the women's game is not only limited to the United States and NWSL.

FC Barcelona Femeni shattered records abroad by welcoming more than 90,000 fans for two of its Champions League matches. Germany and England also recently shattered attendance expectations, proving the rise of women’s football.