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Mar 18, 2024 - Business

Carlyle buys Seattle Reign FC, as women's soccer team sales surge

NWSL game between Seattle and Washington

Seattle Reign FC vs. Washington Spirit on March 17, 2024. Photo: Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images.

The National Women's Soccer League season kicked off this past weekend, but it may be busier off the pitch.

Driving the news: Two franchises were just sold, and a third is in talks to do the same.

  • Carlyle has agreed to buy Seattle Reign FC from France's OL Groupe for $58 million. It's Carlyle's first-ever pro sports team purchase, and was done in partnership with Major League Soccer's Seattle Sounders.
  • Lauren Leichtman and Arthur Levine, the married co-founders of buyout firm LLCP, reportedly agreed to buy the San Diego Wave from Ron Burkle for around $113 million.
  • Angel City FC is seeking a new control investor, with upwards of a $180 million team valuation.

The big picture: The league is at an inflection point, with a new TV contract and a rising interest in U.S. women's sports.

  • Last year, only a handful of NWSL games were nationally televised. This year the number will be over 100, all with better production quality. But there's still plenty of room for additional commercialization.
  • The result is that some early owners are seeking to cash out at a profit, while new, often deeper pockets are seeking to enter.

In the weeds: All three deals, assuming Angel City gets done, would still require league approval.

Look ahead: Don't be surprised if we soon see more institutional dollars flowing into the NWSL, including from private equity.

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