SBD/April 22, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NWSL Portland Thorns Draw Larger Game Crowd Than WPS Predecessor

Attendance at yesterday's game eclipsed that of any game in the WPS' three-year run
The NWSL Portland Thorns in their inaugural home game yesterday “topped the Seattle Reign 2-1 in front of 16,479 fans” at Jeld-Wen Field, according to ESPNW. The attendance “topped any single-game crowd in the three-year run of the NWSL's predecessor, Women's Professional Soccer, which existed from 2009 to 2011” (ESPNW.com, 4/21). The Thorns’ crowd was “more than double the NWSL's previous high of 6,784.” Through six league matches, the average attendance “is 5,737 per game” (AP, 4/21). Thorns coach Cindy Parlow Cone said that the “larger than expected crowd energized the players and served as motivation.” Cone: "They were the 12th person on the field. It's hard for a team to play against 12 people" (Portland OREGONIAN, 4/22).

NO BREAKS FOR THE BAY: In S.F., Chelsea Janes reported financial “failures of past California franchises have scared off potential new owners and made U.S. Soccer, the body that governs the new league, wary of California bidders” for a NWSL franchise in the Bay Area. And history “justifies those concerns: The Bay Area's highly saturated sports landscape include two failed women's soccer franchises in the past 11 years.” USSF President Sunil Gulati said that the organization “vetted 11 bidding groups for eight slots.” Among the “rejected finalists were groups from Hartford, Conn., and Los Angeles that could be strong contenders for future teams, as league officials say they hope to expand to 10 to 12 franchises in the next few years.” The experience of the Bay Area's WPS team, FC Gold Pride, may “be to blame for the Bay Area void” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 4/19).
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