Goal To Grow & Shine A Light On NWSL Players
Baird to Begin Her New Role As NWSL Commissioner Officially on March 10.
The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), the highest level of professional women’s soccer in the United States, just named Lisa Baird as the new Commissioner.
“This is my dream job. To be at the helm in women’s sports … at a league with this much potential …”Lisa Baird, NWSL Commissioner
NWSL’s new commissioner and NWSL Executive Committee member Arnim Whisler jumped on a media conference call today to discuss Baird’s new role.
Read: NWSL NAMES LISA BAIRD AS COMMISSIONER – Press Release
“Couldn’t be more excited to join the league at this time. The league is in great shape,” said Baird as she takes over the NWSL as it enters its historic 8th season.
A leader in the world of sports, Baird has a strong business background in marketing and leaves New York Public Radio (NYPR) to join the NWSL. With tenures at U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee as Chief Marketing Officer, a stint as senior VP of marketing and licensing for the NFL and six years at IMB, Baird brings the kind of expertise that NWSL has been lacking — The ability to sell the game to sponsors.
“It is important to tell the story.”
Baird has received congratulations from around the globe and already is immersed in her new position although the official start date is still at least ten days away. Enthusiastic and confident, Baird does not believe she will have to do a lot of persuading to bring potential sponsors and marketing partners to the table in support of the league.
“Lisa is a great brand builder,” said Whisler, Chicago Red Stars’ owner. Whisler is impressed with the level of thought Baird has already invested in the marketing of NWSL.
Obviously there are great opportunities ahead. There is room for growth as the league looks to expand and increase its fan base.
The average attendance for an NWSL match has been reported at 7,337 in 2019 — which reflects over a 20% increase from 2018’s figures, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
As far as NWSL’s plans for expansion, the current goal is to increase the number of teams participating in the league from nine to fourteen teams.
Louisville has been announced as an expansion team set to begin to play in the 2021 season.
“14 teams is a good target from a parity standpoint,” said Whisler.
“We have far more teams that want in than we have spots available.”Arnim Whisler, NWSL Executive Committee member
“Thrilled to have Lisa in place to weigh in early,” said Whisler. “We have slow-walked things a bit to make sure the new commissioner could be on board.”
“It is a really bright and exciting time,” said Whisler. In response to why Baird was chosen as the new commissioner, he said, “It was a lot more than the resume. Imagine a board room with more than 20 people, and she turned the tables on us.
“She was the only one who got out of us what success meant.”Arnim Whisler, NWSL Executive Committee member
Featuring players from around the world, the existing nine-team women’s professional soccer league includes Chicago Red Stars, Houston Dash, North Carolina Courage, Orlando Pride, Portland Thorns FC, Reign FC, Sky Blue FC, Utah Royals FC , and the Washington Spirit. The NWSL is supported by the U.S Soccer and the Canadian Soccer Association .
At the United States Olympic Committee, Baird developed significant commercial revenue, signing over a $100 million dollars of new sponsorship with multiple corporate partners. With a history of growing revenue and launching innovative marketing platforms Baird clearly plans to harness the power of NWSL’s players, increase overall engagement and maximize social media.
Based in New York City, it is too early to tell if Baird will be moving but it is clear that she will be spending a lot of time in Chicago where NWSL headquartered. Baird was quick to remind the media that NYC is a center of sponsors
While Amanda Duffy led the organization as President since former NWSL commissioner Jeff Plush stepped down in 2017, she was never appointed the position of commissioner. Duffy has a wealth of knowledge on the NWSL, and whose expertise will be called on throughout the transition and probably beyond, has become the Executive Vice President of Orlando Pride.