Notes from WPS Commisioner Antonucci’s Kick-Off Week Conference Call

Posted on 09 April 2010 by lbarker

WPS held its “State of the League” conference call Wednesday as part of WPS Kick-Off Week.  Commissioner Tonya Antonucci spoke to members of the media about where the league stands as it heads into year two.  Antonucci emphasized that the league is working tirelessly to make WPS long-lasting and sustainable.  “Through all the hard work, the off-season adjustments and the last minute preparations, we head into this upcoming weekend and the entire 2010 WPS Season with a sense of optimism, a sense of purpose and a sense that we laid a solid foundation in 2009 upon which we can grow” Commissioner Antonucci said.  She pointed to the two new expansion teams in Philadelphia and Atlanta, the new stadium in Atlanta, FC Gold Pride’s relocation to the East Bay, changes to the schedule including the move of the All-Star Game to mid-season and the longer season, and an increase in the number of countries represented through international players as reasons for said optimism.

Antonucci was equally optimistic about the business side of things, pointing to a 20% increase in season ticket sales, an 150% increase in local sponsorships, the addition of Citi as a founding partner and back-of-jersey sponsor league-wide, and the fact that four of the eight teams have jersey-front sponsors – an increase from just two teams with jersey-front sponsorships in ’09.

Some other points from the call:

  • 2009 saw an average attendance of 4,600 – hopes are for a 5-10% increase.
  • WPS is debuting “Defend Your Turf,” an interactive marketing campaign – in NJ, Chicago, and Washington, DC.
  • The league is looking to add as many as two new teams for 2011, on track with the goal of 12 by ’12.  The focus is the Rockies and west, including bringing a team back to Los Angeles – Antonucci stated that they have at least two interested potential ownership groups for LA 2011 (The Northwest, Dallas, San Diego and Denver were also named as possibilities for expansion).
  • The feeling is that there is a deep enough player pool to support expansion and expansion announcements could be made some time between July and September.
  • Although it varies slightly by franchise, on average the hope is for teams to break even around year five.
  • FSC ‘WPS Sunday’ games will be streamed on WPS website; in addition teams will stream a minimum of two home games online.
  • WPS is working with FSC to increase their international broadcast footprint.
  • “Metrics are trending in the right direction, despite the loss of a team.”  This was Commissioner Antonucci’s answer when asked about the stigma that the loss of the Sol might create.  The Commish was quick to point out that LA was an unfortunate, but isolated incident and that the other eight ownership groups are indeed committed.
  • WPS plans to do its part to honor the World Cup this summer – the league tried to schedule around WC matches, there are plans for viewing parties organized by teams and a hope to tie World Cup festivities in with the WPS All-Star Game.
  • WPS will at some point be announcing a cross-marketing campaign between the league and US Soccer/The USWNT.  Commissioner Antonucci praised US Soccer for what’s been done already to cross-promote, including mentions of players’ WPS clubs during USWNT broadcasts.

With Boston heading to DC on Saturday and FCGP at St. Louis, Atlanta at Philly, and Chicago at SBFC (live on FSC, 6pm ET) on Sunday we’re set to kick of 2010 with the first four-game weekend in WPS history.  For my closing remarks, I yield to WPS Commissioner Tonya Antonucci: “WPS is a super league of amazing stars ready for the mainstream. Ultimately, they are our biggest assets – athletes who have worked their whole lives at their craft simply out of passion for the game, who are incredible role models, heroes and entertainers for everyone both young and old.  They are athletes who do not come to the field with a sense of entitlement, but rather a sense of community. These are athletes that all fans can relate to.”

Leave a Reply

Advertise Here
Advertise Here