SAN FRANCISCO — It was quite the party in the Presidio for Bay FC, the Bay Area’s newly-named women’s soccer team set to kick off in the NWSL next year.
In the first-ever public event for Bay FC, thousands showed up to celebrate the birth of the first major professional women’s sports team in the Bay Area in over a decade.
“We’re a soccer community, and we’ve been waiting for women’s soccer to come back,” said Brandi Chastain, a co-owner in the club and women’s soccer legend. “Today gets everybody’s emotions flowing … Now, it’s real. Before, it was talk and, ‘We’re going to do this. Now, it’s here. It’s here and they can see it.”
The club also announced that Andre Iguodala, a four-time champion with the Golden State Warriors, is joining Bay FC as an investor.
“I’ve had a lot of experience in the Bay Area — it’s become home and it’s become family,” Iguodala told the crowd. “We’re going to do this thing right and I’m going to see you at many games. I couldn’t be prouder to be part of this fantastic group.”
The sun shone all throughout Saturday’s event, which brought fans in from all across the Bay and beyond, with some telling Bay Area News Group they came from as far away as Tracy and Modesto. Fans in town from Los Angeles and El Paso, Texas even changed their Saturday plans to be here.
“We’re excited for women’s soccer to have a professional team here in the Bay Area,” said Mariana Diaz, a Tracy resident who brought her soccer-playing 13-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son with her. “I think it’s really important, especially for young girls here in the Bay Area. Everyone plays soccer, so now you have someone to watch and look up to.”
San Francisco resident Angela Biondolillo added, “I would’ve shown up for this anywhere.”
Fans lined up and waited for over an hour for merchandise (which was completely sold out by the end of the event) and autographs from the club’s ownership icons, former U.S. women’s national team stars Chastain, Leslie Osbourne, Danielle Slaton and Aly Wagner – who stayed for more than an hour afterward to sign for every person waiting.
All four spoke to the crowd in the early afternoon, as did the team’s principal owner Alan Waxman, the co-founder and CEO of Sixth Street. Former Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg, another club investor along with her husband Tom Bernthal, also spoke to the crowd in her first public comment on her ownership stake in the club.
“For all of us, this is much bigger and much more than soccer,” Sandberg said. “You may have noticed that men have run the world for a really long time. I don’t think it’s going that well. Women’s sports are critical for creating the path the world needs for change. Girls who play today become women who lead tomorrow.”
Also among the speakers were representatives from the three largest cities in the Bay Area — San Francisco’s state senator Scott Wiener, San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan and Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao’s chief of staff Leigh Hanson. All made public pitches for their city to be the home for the club’s matches. Bay FC didn’t have any stadium news to announce for fans, though San Jose’s PayPal Park remains the likely home for now.
Waxman called Saturday “a great milestone” but didn’t shy away from all that’s still left for the club to do — including picking temporary training sites and stadiums, hiring an entire operation and getting ready for next year’s kickoff in the NWSL.
But two months after the expansion announcement and two days after the team’s name, logo and branding was unveiled, Saturday’s event allowed Bay FC to become a tangible, real thing — for its fans and for its owners.
“I’m incredibly proud to see this logo, this crest, this name and to see so many people wanting to wrap it everywhere,” Wagner said.
Osbourne added, “For us to be able to launch our team name, our logos, our colors and for people to be rocking it, it is the most amazing feeling.”
https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2023/06/03/bay-fc-hosts-first-public-event-welcomes-andre-iguodala-as-investor/ Bay FC hosts first public event, welcomes Andre Iguodala as investor