SBD/July 19, 2011/Franchises

Sellout Crowd Expected For WPS Game In Rochester Featuring Native Abby Wambach

WPS teams see increased interest for games against magicJack's Wambach, Solo
A “sellout crowd in Rochester that could reach 15,000 fans with bleacher seating added is expected” for the WPS magicJack FC-Western New York Flash game tomorrow, according to a front-page piece by Jeff DiVeronica of the ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE. About 10,000 tickets “have sold in the past five days.” U.S. and magicJack F Abby Wambach, a native of nearby Pittsford, N.Y., “will receive a hero’s welcome." The first 1,000 fans at the game will get Wambach bobbleheads. MVP Healthcare, one of Wambach’s corporate sponsors, “will stage a homecoming rally” prior to the game. In addition, Monroe County officials “plan to proclaim it ‘Abby Wambach Day,’" and Rochester officials are "expected to give” her the key to the city. DiVeronica notes the first matchup between the Flash and magicJack on May 22 in Rochester “drew 8,076 fans, the second-largest crowd in WPS' three-year history.” Tomorrow’s crowd “could eclipse the league record of 14,832 for a standalone match,” set at the inaugural WPS match in ‘09 (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 7/19). In Miami, Michelle Kaufman notes with more than 10,000 tickets sold for the game at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester, stadium officials are “bringing in extra bleachers to expand capacity to 13,000.” In addition to Wambach, several other U.S. stars also play for magicJack, including G Hope Solo, MF Megan Rapinoe and D Christie Rampone (MIAMI HERALD, 7/19). magicJack Owner Dan Borislow “expects demand for magicJack home-match tickets to increase significantly post-World Cup.” A magicJack spokesperson yesterday said that the team “had been receiving an unprecedented level of calls for tickets, and that 250 group tickets had been sold less than 24 hours after the World Cup final ended.” magicJack’s home field at Florida Atlantic Univ. has “a WPS-low seating capacity of 1,500, but the stadium has significant standing-room capacity that the club expects to fully utilize and possibly expand.” The team is also “looking into increasing seating capacity at FAU” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 7/19).

I CAN FEEL YOUR HEART BEAT: WPS Atlanta Beat Owner T. Fitz Johnson indicated that the team “sold 1,200 tickets" to its July 23 game against magicJack in the two days after the U.S.-Brazil quarterfinal. Johnson said, “It's been a tough haul to keep the league going and keep us all engaged. While we're all cautiously optimistic to keep this going, (the World Cup) is the shot in the arm that we needed. No way could we afford to buy that kind of advertising. It couldn't have come at a better time, and with the Olympics staring at us next year, we just need to build a bridge from this year to the Olympics next year." ESPN.com’s Jeff Carlisle noted there “are only three weeks left in the regular season until the playoffs start, leaving a small window of opportunity to avoid the ‘circus effect’ where fans decide that sampling the product once is enough.” WPS Corporate Development Officer & CFO Kristina Hentschel indicated that “there has been a ‘spike’ in interest from potential investors.” But she said that “any announcement regarding expansion will occur after the current season is over.” Johnson said, "People are putting in a lot of work, myself included, to get a model that works to not only attract expansion, but attract expansion that works to sustain the game over a long period of time. We've seen our history, we've lost teams, and we've got to stop that. We've got to be able to say, 'We've got a plan that will get you through the years.'" Johnson added that “everything is on the table, from how the league office functions, to individual franchises, to player salaries.” A WPS source said that under one proposed plan, “each team's salary cap would be slashed from its current level of $600,000 to a mere $350,000” (ESPN.com, 7/18).

LEAVE WELL ENOUGH ALONE: Columnist Kevin Blackistone said the success of the U.S. team in the World Cup will lead somebody to "try and go out and gin up the league’s that already out there." The Washington Freedom "won a title, and they can’t even stay around here. They’re going down to Boca Raton." Blackistone: "The World Cup is a different event and it’ll be great if women can have a professional league that would thrive. But for whatever reasons, it never translates to that” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 7/18).
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