The National Women's Soccer League is looking at Houston's local soccer team as an example of growth.
The Houston Dynamo Football Club invested heavily in the Houston Dash team, which is the NWSL affiliate of the organization. NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman said that Houston has become a model organization for other clubs to follow.
Berman stated that 'With sustained investment, marketing, and forming the correct partnerships with the brands that we want, we are confident that the Dash will become that model club and is already on its way to that goal.
The Houston Dash is also implementing many of the hiring efforts that are made at the league-level. Berman became the NWSL commissioner in April 2022, after spending two and a quarter years with the National Lacrosse League. He also spent 13 years working for the National Hockey League. In August 2022 the NWSL hired its first chief marketing officer, as well as a new COO and chief sporting director. Berman said that the NWSL tripled its number of employees in the league office.
Alex Singer was hired as the first general manager in August 2022. In Houston, Jessica O'Neill became the first team president for the Dash.
Berman stated that the league also took note of Houston's investment and commitment in its facilities. HDFC completed major renovations to Shell Energy Stadium in East Downtown, the club's home venue. HDFC owner Ted Segal stated that the club spent about $15 million to build a new all-inclusive lounge on the east end of the stadium, and to replace all of the seating.
Berman stated that 'Women’s sports haven’t had the luxury of professional facilities for practice and games in the past, so this investment by Ted Segal and the owners in the facility allows the players to be even prouder to play in Houston.
The mesh seats will keep you cooler in the summer and be more comfortable than the previous stadium seats. Berman says it's an upgrade that fans will appreciate, especially given the hot climate in Houston. She said that the local restaurants at the stadium also give fans a more homey feel, which is another way of drawing people to the venue.
Berman noted that HDFC's partnership as stadium naming partner with Shell Energy also reflects how the league has grown its sponsorship base. The NWSL is partnered with a variety of major brands, such as Nike, Ally Financial and Deloitte. Berman explained that the strategy at the league level was to build momentum for women's football by standing on the shoulders these nationally recognized brands.
HDFC broke ground in February on a new HQ, which is expected to be open by July or August. The nearly 30,000 square foot space will house HDFC's entire business operations, as well as some of the stadium and soccer operations of the club. It will also have an event space on top.
Segal, a member of the media, told them that the organization's headquarters in the George R. Brown Convention Center is unsuitable for the two professional teams housed under its roof. Segal also said that it would make more sense for the club to relocate its operations from where they are currently located on the other side Interstate 69 to East Downtown.
We intend to become a fixture in the community and EaDo is our community. Segal stated that the stadium and team operations are located in EaDo.