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SBD/Issue 132/Leagues & Governing Bodies
WPS Launches In Effort To Carve Niche In Sporting Landscape
Published March 27, 2009
LONG TIME COMING: Antonucci said the idea of postponing the inaugural season due to the economic downturn was "not even on the table." Antonucci: "Is this the right model? Yes. Are the conditions ideal? No." But she added that WPS organizers and investors "have been building the league for 3 1/2 years, so the money is already in hand," and the league is "hoping to capitalize on whatever momentum remains" from the U.S. women's national team's gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in August. Meanwhile, in S.F., Tom FitzGerald notes WPS "will add Philadelphia and probably Atlanta next year," and Antonucci said that there are "discussions with groups in Vancouver, Denver and Dallas." But she insisted that the league "won't copy the WUSA's ruinous policy of expanding too fast and spending too much" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/27).
TOUGH ODDS TO OVERCOME: YAHOO SPORTS' Martin Rogers wrote it is a "case of now or never" for WPS and the "odds appear to be stacked against it." The league "will need smarts, innovation and a healthy slice of luck to smooth its early passage." WPS needs to "establish itself as clearly the best women's league in the world with all of the game's leading international stars, and the on-field product must be good enough to keep the television stations, sponsors and crowds interested." WPS also "must not allow itself to be swept away by the tough U.S. sports market." With sponsorship funds and public disposable income "drying up rapidly, there has arguably never been a more difficult financial environment in which to start a fresh sports league." If WPS can "go where WUSA couldn't and get past Year 3, then it has a legitimate chance of surviving, if not thriving." If the league "maintains a sensible and careful approach, there is no reason why it cannot carve out its own niche" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/26).
GETTING CONNECTED: USA TODAY's Beau Dure noted WPS is "reaching fans with technology that didn't exist when the WUSA closed down." Antonucci is "happy to see her league's Facebook page near its pre-launch goal of 10,000 fans, and selected players will be using Twitter during the inaugural game." Antonucci said the league is "considering endorsing" Twitter use "for the entire season based on feedback from the inaugural match" (USA TODAY, 3/26).