Snapdragon Stadium to attract record NWSL crowd when Angel City visits San Diego
The San Diego Wave have sold more than 32,000 tickets for their first game at Snapdragon Stadium, assuring the crowd for the Sept. 17 game with Angel City FC will be by far the largest in the 10-year history of the National Women’s Soccer League.
The current NWSL attendance record is 25,218 for a North Carolina Courage-Portland Thorns game at Providence Park in Portland, Ore., in 2019. That’s also the year the league set a season attendance record of 792,409.
That mark is also likely to fall this year.
“It’s a great reflection of the momentum we see in women’s sports,” said Jill Ellis, the Wave’s president. “We’ve got 32,000 tickets out. We’ve sold all of our inventory. It’s pretty incredible.
“But we should now expect this. We should celebrate it. But the next step is to expect it.”
The Wave (9-5-4), who lead the 12-team NWSL and are vying to become the first expansion team in league history to make the playoffs, played its first nine regular-season home games at 6,000-seat Torero Stadium on the campus of the University of San Diego. They averaged 5,092 fans a game there.
Orange County Soccer Club is being rewarded for giving Milan Iloski a chance to return to SoCal and restart a career that appeared to have hit a dead end.
Angel City (7-5-4), the league’s other expansion team, leads the NWSL in attendance, averaging nearly 19,000 a game at 22,000-seat Banc of California Stadium, where it has played before three sellout crowds. This is the first season the NWSL has played in California and the first year the state has had a first-tier women’s professional soccer team since the L.A. Sol folded in 2010.
“Ten years ago, we weren’t at this point in women’s sports,” said Ellis, who coached at UCLA before taking the U.S. women’s national team to back-to-back World Cup titles. “This is a time to be ambitious in women’s sports. As a coach and as a [team] president, you put it out there and our club said, ‘Hey, we’re going to sell this thing out, and we want to move the needle in women’s sports.’ And that’s what we’re doing.
“Southern California is, perhaps, arguably the crown jewel of soccer in terms of development of players, youth club teams. You’ve got universities and colleges here competing. So I think it’s such a fertile landscape for women’s soccer.”
Snapdragon Stadium, built on the site of the former Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego’s Mission Valley, is also the home of San Diego State’s football team. The $300-million stadium, which has a capacity of 35,000 for football, will stage its first sporting event Saturday when the Aztecs play host to Arizona in their season opener.
For the first time since UCLA and USC launched women’s soccer programs in 1993, they head into the season with new coaches. Both boast strong resumes.