MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Aurora FC, the state's newest pre-professional soccer team, is looking at joining a true professional women's soccer league in the near future, the team's board announced Monday.
The Aurora finished their inaugural season in the USL W League undefeated with an 11-0-1 record and lost in the USL W League Championship in overtime. In the team's first season of play, the Aurora's fan attendance rivaled those of teams in the National Women's Soccer League, which is the top professional women's soccer league in the country.
Now, building off of last season's wild success, the team's board wrote a letter addressed to its community owners about the team's future, saying in part, "We believe that Minnesota Aurora can and should be a professional team."
The team's current home, the USL W League, is pre-professional, which allows players to keep their amateur status for colligate and high school soccer. In the team's FAQ section of the announcement, the board said this will not impact the 2023 season. The Aurora will remain in the W League next season and information about tickets and the schedule will be released in early 2023.
"We love what we are able to build at the pre-professional level and develop players," the team wrote. "Becoming a professional team means that level of competition will increase dramatically. Moreover it provides a longer term stability for the club."
According to the team, "there will be two options for professional women's soccer and we have had really positive conversations with both leagues." The team did not name either league.
Currently, the nation's top professional women's soccer league is the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL). However, the USL is launching the USL Super League in 2023, which will be a professional women's league. With its existing relationship with the USL, the Aurora would likely be a top target for the new league to have in its membership.
Before the team can join a professional league, the club needs major investors, saying it "requires deep pockets and involves finding higher level investors." Under United States Soccer Federation regulations, pro teams need to have an individual who owns 35% of the team and "meets high standards of wealth."
"The reason for this is because professional soccer is very often not profitable and some investment groups had a checkered past," the team explained.
New potential investors will need to meet net worth and income requirements and invest a minimum of $500,000. Those interested can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Our goal has always been to rewrite the script of women's soccer, to build a club that is a community asset, something we can all have stakes in," the team's board said.
The board added that "these are early days" in the move to a professional league and few specifics are available now. "Whatever the future holds, Aurora will continue to be a club For Community, By Community."
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