WPS Year One...

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WPS Year One...

Post by DaTruRochin on Tue Aug 25, 2009 2:06 pm

I heard that the final average attendance for all WPS games was only 4k per game (and that includes the high at 12k for the opener and a 16K game that was a double header with an MLS contest in DC)... It worries me a little bit as to the viability of the league seeing that the WUSA averaged 8K a game in its inaugural year when interest in women's soccer was an all time high.

I'm sure they will be back for at least another season, but clearly it's a business model that needs some fixing (or perhaps better market research before adding new teams... cough Portland cough)

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Re: WPS Year One...

Post by aleppiek on Tue Aug 25, 2009 2:20 pm

Wouldn't it make sense for Merritt Paulson to go after a WPS team? The pitch and operational structure is in place for the Timbers, and I would imagine at least some of the TA would support both, as would UP's fan base, especially if you could get a (Milbrett/Rapinoe/Sinclair) level former player here. I guess he is likely looking at it from a wait and see standpoint... I was really surprised that we do not have a team, it would be a perfect distraction for the summer doldrums.

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Re: WPS Year One...

Post by DaTruRochin on Tue Aug 25, 2009 2:53 pm

Yeah, but it seems like they went with the same old school broken record "big market must mean big success" mode of operations... Hopefully the league will be in operation long enough to get a PDX expansion team...

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Re: WPS Year One...

Post by purple haze on Tue Aug 25, 2009 9:38 pm

Timbers fans likely don't think of "summer doldrums" the same as college soccer fans do -- the summer is hot times for them. Since MSL and WPS overlap, Paulson's top priority must be to launch MLS Timbers successfully (and surely he also has his hands full with the Beavers baseball mess). Seen in that light WPS would seem a distraction to his current plan at best, and might cannibalize the fan base at worst. WPS has a lot to prove financially even though the game on the field is top-rate. I'd love to see WPS in Portland (and Seattle and Vancouver) ... maybe it will happen some year but no time soon is my prediction.

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Re: WPS Year One...

Post by DaTruRochin on Tue Aug 25, 2009 9:51 pm

Oh I don't think you would see a venture by Merritt to go after both teams concurrently at all, it would have to be a separate owner group entirely. (Additionally I'm pretty sure the MLS would frown on him going after both franchises as well) The WPS is going to have issues remaining solvent without some serious sponsorship infusion and somehow generating bigger fan support to tell those sponsors it's worth investing in the product. It's unfortunate that it just is NOT a good time to be starting a venture like an athletics league when people don't have the money to spend on entertainment like they did, even a few years ago.

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Re: WPS Year One...

Post by UPSoccerFanatic on Tue Aug 25, 2009 11:21 pm

The average attendance for the WPS teams was 4,717. If my recollection is correct, this fit within their business model for what they needed in Year 1. My pre-WPS season prediction was an average of 4,750 fans per game. With that prediction and my conceded best prediction of who would score the Pilots' first goal and when -- correct player and within 2 minutes of when -- am I a genius or what? ("Or what" meaning "such as really lucky, for once in my life.")

I don't think immediate comparisons to the MLS will be particularly helpful, as it's been around for quite a while. Maybe, though, a comparison to MLS's attendance figures for the first year of its operation. I have no idea what those numbers were.

My support for a MLS team at Multnomah Stadium/PGE Park primarily has been because I'm hoping some day to have a WPS team playing there, plus a College Cup, etc. The NCAA would have to change its stadium specifications for it to hold a College Cup there (the stadium is too big), but that may come with time anyway.

Here's a sort of related tidbit of information. On September 13, I believe NCAA Division I will have the greatest number of Division I women's soccer games ever played in a single day -- 136 games, 272 teams. How about "National Women's College Soccer Day"?

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Re: WPS Year One...

Post by Geezaldinho on Tue Aug 25, 2009 11:42 pm

UPSoccerFanatic wrote: My pre-WPS season prediction was an average of 4,750 fans per game. With that prediction and my conceded best prediction of who would score the Pilots' first goal and when -- correct player and within 2 minutes of when -- am I a genius or what? ("Or what" meaning "such as really lucky, for once in my life.")

Or what.

As to the WPS success in the first season, the first year attendance was fine, as long as they build on it next season.

What's going to make or break the WPS,in my opinion, is sponsors. They are going have to do a lot better than this year's two sponsors for all the league, and teams are going to get individual sponsors as well, for this league to make it.

I hope they have some marketing guru's on it right now.

Also, I believe several teams are engaged in ownership arrangements with MLS teams. That was going to be one of the differences with the WUSA.

I liked that name for a league better.

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Re: WPS Year One...

Post by DaTruRochin on Tue Aug 25, 2009 11:57 pm

In the 1st year the MLS drew 17,416 (2 years removed from the 94 WC) for comparisons sake, they are drawing a bit over 15K this year (but that number is buoyed by the 30K in Seattle)

I think the WPS has the potential to build on a good product, but it is going to need progression next year, not the regression its predecessor saw... Numbers around 9K to start, down to 7 and in the final season, just over 5. As long as the owners are willing to wait out the lean times I think the league could continue to gain traction on the sports landscape especially if it keeps drawing the big stars like Marta, etc.

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Re: WPS Year One...

Post by DaTruRochin on Wed Aug 26, 2009 12:03 am

But agreed Geez, the sponsorships were pretty meager rolling in, they didn't even have an uniform until a couple months before the first kickoff, by comparison, most pro teams have their teams designed and production planned 2 years in advance. The league had to essentially beg to get the few sponsors they were able to scrape together, and it was all done at a pretty truncated time frame last winter and spring. At least now they have an actual product to put on the table to draw in sponsors, and hopefully business plans that help said sponsors be generous with their advertising budgets...

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Re: WPS Year One...

Post by pms275 on Wed Aug 26, 2009 9:07 am

As Geez said, I think that as long as the attendance increases going into next year, the league will remain viable. The league's goal was to have 4,000 - 6,000 per game this season, so at least they came in on target. There seems to be more of a grassroots level attempt to "recruit customers" for this league.

The WPS has also been smarter with money. I believe the WUSA blew through $60 million its first year. A nice chunk of that due to huge salaries, particularly for the US team players and the stadium costs. By keeping salaries at a sustainable level, and only signing players for six months as opposed to a year, they've kept their bottom line healthier. Playing in smaller venues has also been really helpful from a financial standpoint. Interestingly, the WPS is not paying TV rights fees, which the WUSA apparently did.

As has been mentioned in previous posts, the only sticky issue has been the sponsorships. The WPS is going to need more. And it sounds like the teams are working on that at a local level, too. I suspect some corporate money may flow easier once the economy starts coming back.

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