Angel City Football Club Ticket, Merchandise Sales Rise Ahead of Team Debut

Angel City Football Club has sold over 14,000 season tickets for the upcoming National Women’s Soccer League season. He’s also sold more than $1 million worth of merchandise – most of which bears his popular logo – has a loyal collection of fan groups and is the subject of his own podcast.

All of this may already sound impressive, but Angel City has done it, and more, without ever playing a single game – yet.

In fact, Angel City FC held their first official training on February 1 and will play their first pre-season game in March. The team, whose first player was Christen Press, a Los Angeles native and star of the United States Women’s National Soccer Team, will begin its first regular season in late April, playing its home matches at Banc of California Stadium, which is also home to the Los Angeles soccer team of Major League Soccer. Club.

Julie Uhrman, entrepreneur and former executive of Lions Gate Entertainment Inc. as well as video game console company Ouya Inc., is one of three co-founding owners of the team, along with Upfront Ventures executive Kara Nortman and Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman. Uhrman is also club president and as such was invited to attend this first practice, which she said she planned to do “with a box of Kleenex under her arm.”

“I’m expected to give a speech, and I can’t even think about it without completely breaking down,” she said.

Uhrman, a former college basketball player herself – “I was the one who always wanted to take the last shot” – said her emotions would likely get the better of her because a lot of people thought a group A female property manager with little track record in sports management couldn’t recruit a team, let alone do so spectacularly, well ahead of the ownership curve.

Uhrman said the key to early success was that the club strove to create an Angel City community even before there was an Angel City team. Part of this process has involved going out and listening to fans, and part has been committing to reinvesting 10% of all sponsorship funds generated by the club back into the community.

This approach has led to community benefits such as the distribution of more than 75,000 meals to combat food insecurity in the city, an internship program for high school girls as well as the creation of eight school gardens.

Of course, when you’re looking to raise your profile, it doesn’t hurt that the team has a catchy name, a catchy logo and an ownership group that includes big names like tennis icon Serena Williams – husband of Williams, Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit Inc., is the main founding investor through his company Initialized Capital – soccer star Mia Hamm and actors Jessica Chastain and Uzo Aduba.

Uhrman spoke to The Business Journal about that first practice, that first season, and the challenges of building a global brand when fighting for space in a very successful and crowded sports market.

The sports market in Los Angeles has probably never been so successful. The city has two of everything — two NBA teams, two NFLs, two MLS — and everyone seems to be building or renaming a stadium or arena these days. How does it feel to enter such a dynamic but crowded market?

You have 11 pro teams if you include USC and UCLA, and there seem to be championship teams almost every year. The challenge for us is to embrace this diverse community, assert our claim and stand out. We didn’t want to be just another team. As a women’s team, we probably have more to do to raise awareness and attract attention. We felt we had the best ingredients to do this because we have the best players in the world, playing the most popular sport in the world, in the best sports city in the world. So we’ve assembled a team of owners who believe in building something different – ​​an organization where mission and capital can co-exist, where we can entertain the world but also have an incredible impact on our community.

On your website is a fan profile of a woman named Amanda who talks about Angel City – her affinity and connection to it – as if she’s been a fan since she was a child. It was like someone was talking about the Lakers or the Dodgers. How did you create something so quickly that people feel so deeply?

It’s about creating those individual connections. We didn’t build Angel City in an office. It was (during) the pandemic, we built this whole organization remotely. We built it with this idea of ​​leading with passion and purpose, making an impact in our community, and then going out into our community and literally talking to them to find out what was important to them, what made sense for them, asking them for advice, being part of the conversation with them, so they felt like they were building Angel City with us, which they are.

Were you surprised by any of these fan contributions?

I think we were surprised how much they really care about us. There was a level of accountability that I think is greater than we anticipated. It’s one thing to tell the fans what you’re doing; it’s another to ask them, actively engage them in conversation, and ultimately feel responsible for how those decisions play out in the community. That’s why our community leader sits at the leadership table.

It’s not uncommon for people who become esports owners to be blindsided by the depth of fan feelings for the team. Many of them are unprepared for the passion and constant scrutiny. Do you feel ready for this?

I have already experienced this as an entrepreneur. I’m used to a lot of no’s, used to people criticizing something that I’ve built – you know, “It’s not good enough”, “It’s not the right way”, whatever. The way we see it (is) there is no ceiling. Nobody thought we could start a professional women’s soccer team in Los Angeles, and we did. No one thought we could build a team that has a global brand and a global following, and we did. We have sold merchandise and have fans in all 50 states and 39 countries. We have 25 brand partners and probably have the highest sponsorship revenue of any professional women’s team, including the WNBA.

And you haven’t played a game.

And we didn’t play a game. We sold over 10,000 subscriptions before signing our first player, Christen Press. We now have over 14,000 subscribers. People already identify with what we stand for, and that means our audience will only grow.

By the way, how did you find the name of the club?

We have a great relationship with (advertising agency) Battery and have spent a lot of time with them on naming. We already kind of agreed that if we were going to have a fan group, it should probably start with the name Angel City. And then we were like, ‘Wait a minute, wait, why isn’t that our name?’ It was like an epiphany. We love the name Angel City because it reflects our city, but it has bigger aspirations, other products and services from this brand. We believe that this name gives us the opportunity to do so.

What does this mean for you and for others?

When Kara, Natalie and I thought about building this club, there was no roadmap for us. We really felt we had to build it ourselves. We really had the impression of writing the scenario, of showing that everything is really possible. Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist; it just means you have to be the first to do it. We have the courage and the vision to do so. It just means there are more firsts in front of us.

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