Spirit, Sky Blue host “The Business of Women’s Soccer” panel 

Washington Spirit  |   May 15, 2020
Spirit, Sky Blue host “The Business of Women’s Soccer” panel  Featured Image

Alejandra Martin

Boyds, MD., (5/15/20) — The Washington Spirit’s Chief Revenue Officer Gretchen Hamm took part in a panel led by influential women from across the NWSL on Thursday night. NWSL Media President Lindsay Barenz, Sky Blue’s General Manager Alyse LaHue, Moderator Meg Linehan from The Athletic and Hamm spoke about moving into the new future of Women’s Sports with reach, sponsorship and safety.

The panel addressed numerous questions from the virtual audience, offering insights many fans were curious about. Topics ranged from the impact of the Women’s World Cup, to club partnerships and fan engagement to the future of the NWSL. 

The panel had this to say on the impact of the Women’s World Cup: “From the league level, we saw in-person attendance growth in all the teams. It averaged out to about 22% jump across the team, which is substantial when you already have averaged in the multiple thousands attending our games.” said Barenz.  

Hamm spoke towards the World Cup’s impact on sponsorships, saying: “We have sponsors who are taking our calls. People are taking our calls. We have more ‘yeses’.” 

Another long-discussed topic was on what the league is going to attract and engage different audiences and communities. The panel was unanimous that more work needs to be done and assured they are doing it. 

Lahue offered an example of how Sky Blue FC have made efforts to reach larger audiences, saying, “We held an adult soccer clinic, and it was fantastic…that was an indicator for us that there is this whole segment that wants merchandise, that wants soccer clinics that we can now cater to.”

There were only positive answers to addressing the main differences between men and women’s sports plans. Lahue, Hamm, and Barenz all agreed that the main difference is that there is not as much bureaucracy in the NWSL, which offers them more freedom. 

Barenz said in this current time, “We are young, we are small, we are scrappy, we are eager to innovate and because of those factors are actually advantages…we can adapt quickly.”

Finally, when talking about the future of the league, the panel agreed that there have been silver linings to the pandemic. They spoke towards the commitment of their fans and partners, creating more personal connections with fans through virtual channels, and their ability to continue to do so post-pandemic. 

Barenz offered optimism, saying, “The future of the NWSL is very bright. There is a lot of momentum behind women’s soccer.” 

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