FIFA, NWSL and Nebraska Lead Way

The world’s first purpose-built stadium for a women’s sports franchise opened in Kansas City, Missouri on Saturday, March 16 as the new home of the NWSL’s Kansas City Current.

The venue, which was first announced in 2021, serves as another reminder of the growth of women’s sports in recent years. Deloitte estimates that by 2024, elite women’s sports will generate more than $1 billion in revenue for the first time – a 300% increase from 2021, and a study by SponsorUnited found that the number of sponsorship deals in sports professional of women has increased by more than 22 percent from year to year.

Only in 2023 have several records been set in women’s sports.

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup reportedly generated the most revenue in the history of the tournament and was the most watched event in the history of the Women’s World Cup.

With the addition of two more teams in 2024, the NWSL signed the largest broadcast deal in women’s sports in 2023 and set a league attendance record.

The WNBA’s New York Liberty hosted the largest single-game crowd in league history for Game 3 of the WNBA Finals at Barclays Center.

Perhaps the most important women’s sports record broken in 2023 was when the University of Nebraska women’s volleyball team set a world record for participation in a women’s sports event.

Held at Memorial Stadium, the school’s soccer stadium, Nebraska Volleyball Day drew 92,003 fans, surpassing the previous world record of 91,648 fans set at a soccer match between Barcelona and Wolfsburg in 2022.

Supporting women’s sports turned into a bigger result than just an attendance record for the University. “The ripple effect is tremendous,” said Doug Ewald, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Associate AD at the University of Nebraska. “The economic impact for a typical Saturday home football weekend is $12 to $13 million. For this event, the economic impact on the city of Lincoln, Nebraska was over $10 million.

The social value of the day itself added another $2 million, Ewald added. “To this day, it keeps on giving.”

The attendance record was set on the anniversary of a landmark moment in women’s sport. “When we set this up, it was really a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Title IX,” Ewald said. Title IX protects students from discrimination based on sex in any educational program or activity that receives federal financial aid. “Let’s be honest. There’s no better way to celebrate our women here in Nebraska – and across the country – than to set a world record.”

The excitement around women’s sports was palpable during Nebraska Volleyball Day and is just as pronounced in the Kansas City Current’s new stadium investment.

“As the first purpose-built stadium for a professional women’s sports team, CPKC Stadium is a proof of concept in many ways,” said Chris Long, Current co-owner. “It will prove how investment and ownership of the stadium is the key to success for women’s sports. It provides the revenue streams needed to reinvest in players and the fan experience. We are the first, but we will not be the last.”

Current Stadium isn’t the only one positioning women’s sports for a strong 2024.

Globally, the 2024 Olympics in Paris will feature an equal number of male and female athletes for the first time ever. Additionally, two new professional women’s sports leagues, the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWSL) and the Pro Volleyball Federation, have already launched in January. The latter set an attendance record for professional women’s volleyball in the first match.

From world records to landmark stadiums, the growth of women’s sports isn’t slowing down in 2024.

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