Since 2018, Boston has been without a member team in the National Women’s Soccer League.

That’s when the Boston Breakers, the city’s previous standard bearer for the women’s game, folded, leaving a gap in the sports landscape of a city known for its passion for winning.

On Tuesday, that wound finally started to heal as the league officially welcomed a Boston franchise to the NWSL, giving the league its 15th team and giving fans of the game a new team to call their own.

The news first came out Monday, but a Tuesday ceremony at Boston City Hall plaza attended by Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, Boston Unity Soccer Partners controlling partner Jennifer Epstein, NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman and others acted as a sort-of official kickoff for the new club coming back to an old home.

“This moment is a bit of history for all of us here in Boston,” Wu said. “Not only are we adding a major franchise to the city that will cheer on every team through thick and thin and everything in between, but we have seen the popularity and how important it is to elevate and highlight the success that our women’s sports teams and our women athletes are leading the way on.”

The team, which has not officially been given a name yet, is set to play at White Stadium in a partnership between Boston Public Schools and the club. That decision has brought some concerned questions from those who live nearby, but Wu pointed out that the stadium was always intended as a place where people could come together.

A woman speaks at a podium with a half-dozen people behind them.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu speaks at the announcement of the NWSL Boston franchise outside City Hall on Sept. 19, 2023.
Esteban Bustillos GBH News

“There are of course impacts that [we] need to ensure that we’re taking care of and thinking through properly around transportation access and the impact on the neighborhoods,” Wu said. “The ownership group has been very clear that they will follow the city’s lead and work with us so that we can do this right. This is also an area where we’re intending to activate the entirety of Franklin Park through what this team and the games and opportunities will bring. We intend for this to be a stadium that is primarily accessed by walking, by seeing the rest of the park, and we continue to work through those pieces and community as we finalize those arrangements.”

For Epstein, Tuesday was a culmination of years of planning — and also a beginning.

“This is really day one. I mean, it was a lot of work to get here, but this is really day one,” she said. “And we have to actually now build this organization, we have to renovate our stadium, we’re gonna do something amazing here. And there’s gonna be a lot of work to do and I can’t wait to bring in exceptional talent to help me do that.”

Epstein emphasized that the organization wants its use of White Stadium to be additive to the surrounding community and make an impact beyond just the days the team plays its home games there.

“To do that, we have had probably over 50 meetings already, but we know that that’s just barely the beginning. And so we want to listen, we want to get everyone’s input and we want to figure out a way to do this that there’s just broad benefit for our city of Boston,” she said.

For the NWSL, the is third expansion franchise that the league has awarded in 18 months. League commissioner Berman said that the NWSL has proven that the professional women’s soccer model as a business can work, saying that the attendance average across the league is about 10,000 people per game and that viewership year-over-year is up 20 to 30% over television. She also pointed out that Boston’s ownership group paid a $53 million expansion fee to bring a club back to the city, stressing that assets need to be evaluated appropriately just like they are in men’s sports.

She also said that if the NWSL wants more investment from media partners and sponsors, the league needs to cover more of the country.

“And so having a city like Boston — which I believe is the ninth largest [media market], if I’m not mistaken — represented will really help our growth story on a national level,” Berman said.

The team won’t begin play until 2026 — and in between now and then, there’s a stadium to renovate, team staff to hire, coaches to bring in and, of course, players to sign, not to mention a name to choose.

But the fact that Boston is getting an NWSL team again is already bringing hopes of another championship parade.

Kristine Lilly, who won two World Cups and two Olympic gold medals with the U.S. women’s national team and played professionally in Boston, is part of the investor group for the new team and wants to make room for another trophy in her already impressive collection.

“I traveled all around the world playing in World Cups and Olympics,” she said. “I’ve won the World Cup, I’ve won gold medals, I won at college, but I never won professionally. So now, guess what? This is my time, be on the sidelines, and we’re gonna bring it home.”

For fans like Ainsley Wortman, having a team in the city is a big deal.

“You have a whole untapped market of the entire Northeast that has had to go down to New York to go to games if they want to see them in person or wait for the women’s national team to come up here,” she said. “So I feel like there’s a lot of people who are really looking forward to have a team to support.”

GBH News intern Cameron Meyer contributed to this story.