SBD/Issue 234/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Inaugural WPS Championship Game Draws Just 7,218 Fans In L.A.

WPS Championship Game Falls
Well Short Of Attendance Hopes
The attendance for Saturday's inaugural WPS Championship game at The Home Depot Center fell "well short of what WPS was surely hoping for, drawing only 7,218," according to Jacqueline Purdy of ESPN SOCCERNET. The game, in which Sky Blue FC beat the Sol 1-0, attracted the "fourth-best turnout in the league this year, just about half the number that saw the Sol win the inaugural match in the same venue on March 29." But Purdy noted those who were in attendance saw a "thrilling game that came down to the closing moments." Sky Blue coach and D Christie Rampone said, " I think we need to spend a little bit more time in the community and start selling the league a little bit better on the players' side. We did a great job on the field, but now it's just being a little bit more mindful and getting the work done off the field as well. I think the league has done an exceptional job. We started small and we're going to build up" (ESPNSOCCERNET.com, 8/22). WPS Commissioner Tony Antonucci at Saturday's game said that the league was "able to introduce itself as a league that showcased many of the world's best players." Antonucci: "From a business standpoint, we can say we're real, we're here. It's a tangible product now" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/23).

YEAR ONE IN THE BOOKS: YAHOO SPORTS' Martin Rogers wrote WPS in its first season has "done as well as it could have hoped for." The league has "marketed itself cleverly, making intelligent use of social networking and the Internet to reach out to fans," while the on-field product has "been strong, and the level of commitment shown by the players cannot be faulted." There have been some "reasonably encouraging signs" regarding attendance, but the overall average was just shy of 4,500 per game and it is "hard to see significant upward movement." Not a single WPS team "made a profit in 2009," with losses between $1-2M for most clubs, and team investors "show every sign of being in this for the long term, but that doesn't mean they will keep throwing money into a bottomless pit." The "projected turnaround in the economy can help -- and compared to the drastic and horrific WUSA losses, WPS is in infinitely better shape" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/21). FC Gold Pride D Brandi Chastain said, "What this league needs is for people who say they are invested in their daughters' future to go to the games. That may be a little blunt, but I'm putting the responsibility on the community and the players and front offices to make sure they do a better job to make sure that people come to the stadiums and buy tickets" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/23).

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