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HomeNewsMatthew Stafford and his wife join Angel City ownership: 'We fell in...

Matthew Stafford and his wife join Angel City ownership: ‘We fell in love’


Matthew Stafford’s four young daughters have seen their father win a Super Bowl and set three franchise records as a Rams quarterback. They’ve seen how he and his teammates were cheered and booed, hyped up and excoriated.

But what they had never seen before last May were female athletes competing in the same way in a sold-out arena. That changed when Stafford and his wife Kelly took their daughters to an Angel City game on Mother’s Day.

“It was our first experience and we fell in love with it,” Stafford said.

So much so that the family just bought part of the team, becoming the newest members of a massive ownership group that includes more than 100 investors, from Alexis Ohanian and America Ferrera to Abby Wambach and Serena Williams.

“I thought it was really unique and really cool for my daughters to see women,” Kelly Stafford added. “It was incredibly special.”

“We walked out of that first game and I was like, ‘How cool would it be if we could be a part of this?’ she continued. “We didn’t even question it. We both just jumped at the chance.”

The Staffords are not alone. In the last four new years NWSL investors have included three Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks in Stafford, Patrick Mahomes and Eli Manning; tennis champions Williams and Naomi Osaka; Olympic basketball gold medalists Sue Bird and Candace Parker; NBA stars James Harden and Tony Parker; NHL All-Star PK Subban and World Cup Champions including Wambach, Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Carli Lloyd, and Joy Fawcett.

What they share is a deep understanding of professional sports and a desire to support women’s soccer.

The reasons why are simple. For starters, NWSL franchises are cheaper, with Angel City paying a $2 million franchise fee to join the league in 2020, according to published reports. It cost the owners of St. Louis City 100 times that amount to join MLS a year earlier.

But supporting women’s sports also sends a message about gender equality and opportunity, allowing investors to do well financially and socially at the same time.

Angel City FC players run onto the field after an NWSL soccer match at BMO Stadium in May 2022.

(Ashley Landis/Associated Press)

“Just to show our girls that if it’s something they want, it’s out there. And that there are people like his dad supporting him. Which is cool and fun.”

— Kelly Stafford, on why they joined the Angel City ownership group

“In addition to the coveted financial returns, many athlete investors view investing in the NWSL as a kind of message, a way to get involved in what they believe to be an important cause, the growth of women’s sports.” said David M. Carter, professor of sports business at USC and director of Sports Business Group, a consulting firm. “Many athletes are looking for both a return on their investment and a return on their goal.”

That’s why Harden invested in both the MLS Houston Dynamo and its NWSL sister club the Dash, said Baird Fogel, co-head of the Global Sports Practice at Eversheds Sutherland and legal counsel to Harden.

“The phrase is called impact investing,” Fogel said. “Obviously, the return is what matters to many of these people. But many of them are looking for social causes and other things, including the advancement of women’s sports. It’s very difficult for someone to become a professional athlete, particularly on the women’s side where the opportunities are much less. So they’re looking to try to change that.

“He’s doing something where the sport can benefit a community or a city, where they know it can help bring people together.”

That’s what convinced the Staffords, who have a long history of supporting community and social justice causes, to invest their money in Angel City. The couple’s four daughters, who range in age from 2 to 6, grew up watching their father play in the hyper-masculine NFL, but had not been exposed to women’s sports. Being in a stadium full of people cheering on female athletes was something the Staffords wanted to expose their daughters to.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford celebrates with his family after winning a Super Bowl title.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford celebrates with his family after winning a Super Bowl title at SoFi Stadium in February 2022.

(Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

“I never thought I would have four girls. I’m a straight up tomboy,” said Kelly, who played basketball and soccer in high school. “So she killed me on the inside, once I had all the girls, knowing they love sports, but I don’t know what they can do with it. And now, with Angel City and people investing in women’s sports, there is a feeling that this trend will change and our children will be the benefactors. I would say that’s the main reason we did it.

“Just to show our girls that if it’s something they want, it’s out there. And that there are people like his dad supporting him. Which is cool and fun.”

It’s just not profitable. But that could be changing.

Although Angel City has more than 16,000 season ticket holders and sponsorship deals worth more than $45 million, 10% of which must be reinvested in community projects, the team turned no profit in its first season. No NWSL team has done it yet.

Yet Angel City, which had a valuation of $115 million in April 2021 before playing a game or signing a player, more than double that of any team in league history, expects to turn a profit over the next three to five years. .

Meanwhile, investors are playing the long game.

“Take a drive through any suburban community on a Saturday or Sunday and look at the ball fields. Who is playing? You see tens of thousands of girls playing soccer,” said Andrew Dolich, who has served as an equipment executive in all four major US sports leagues and now runs a sports consultancy in Los Altos, California. “The timing is such that sort of opportunistic reversal is happening now.”

That’s a big reason why Reddit co-founder Ohanian, Angel City’s lead investor, is so optimistic about the sport, even though he, too, was primarily drawn to the opportunity and example the NWSL offered his daughter, Alexis Olympia.

And those benefits can extend well beyond the field of play. According to study of the Women’s Sports Foundation — which was founded by Billie Jean King, another Angel City investor — 96% of women who work as executive-level managers in the corporate world played competitive sports growing up.

That’s the kind of return on investment the Staffords are hoping for.

“Anything that comes financially out of this is obviously just the icing on the cake,” Matthew said. “For us it was being part of a team led by a group of powerful, strong and intelligent women. Something that’s really fun for our family to be a part of.”

“Not just for our daughters,” Kelly added, “but for all the girls who love sports as much as I do. There is this opportunity for them.”

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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