Minnesota's newest women's soccer team Aurora FC take the field
The first Minnesota Aurora game kicks off Thursday night with a sold-out stadium and a mission: Prove women's soccer can succeed at the local level.
Why it matters: The new team brings more hype and excitement around a growing movement to boost women's sports, and creates an opportunity to see rising stars before they hit the big leagues.
How it works: Aurora is part of the USL W League, a new all-female preprofessional league launching this month.
- The 25 athletes who make up the roster have a wide variety of skill levels, from high school standouts to Division 1 players. Half have Minnesota ties.
Yes, and: Unlike most preprofessional teams, players don't have to pay to compete.
- Aurora is community-owned. The 3,080 shareholders, who bought in last year, get input on things like the name, mascot and logo and can run for board seats, Aurora’s soccer director Matt Privansky tells Axios.
What they're saying: "Ideally, some of these players are going to be the stars we watch in the (higher level) NWSL. We're offering a chance to see these players now," Wes Burdine, an Aurora owner who also runs St. Paul LGBTQ soccer bar Black Hart, tells Axios.
The big picture: The success and visibility of the U.S. women's soccer team has created a nationwide demand for the sport from a diverse audience — 40% of soccer fans are people of color, according to a study published last month.
- "There's a reason soccer is called the world’s game," Aurora community owner Jamie Becker-Finn, a state representative from Roseville, tells Axios. "It has an intersectionality of race, gender and culture you don’t see in many sports."
What to expect: High-energy games under 90 minutes, a stadium of enthusiastic fans and affordable tickets under $15.
What's next: If you missed out on tonight’s tickets, the team plays five more home games at TCO Stadium in Eagan through June 26.
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