Soccer, swimming, tennis, track and field - anything not covered above gets discussed here.
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There's a story they just put up on the home page (story's going to be in Tuesday's DMN) about the possibility of the Dallas Burn coming after Schellas Hyndman. That would be, in a word, devastating. He's one of the best -- if not THE best -- coaches in college, and HS players from all over the country want to play for him. We'd have to break the bank to get a coach any where his caliber.
Schellas's name came up the last time the Burn job was open, as well. The contract extension he signed 2 years ago pays him a pretty sporty salary, a figure that was suppose to be high enough to keep him here for the rest of his career. The Burn may be able to go over and above what any college can offer, though.
Some will tell you that a glass is half empty, and others that the same glass is half full. But all CPC really wants to know is...... does the drink taste good?
I dunno - sounds like soccer's not getting the funding the higher-ups envisioned. Women's league folded today.
Women's Pro Soccer League Forced to Fold
Lack of Sponsorship Cited for Move
By Brian Straus
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, September 16, 2003; Page A01
The Women's United Soccer Association, the three-year-old professional league that brought superstar Mia Hamm to Washington, folded suddenly today, five days before the opening of the Women's World Cup.
Inaugurated three years ago in the afterglow of the 1999 Cup, the league announced it would suspend operations immediately because of a $20 million shortfall caused by a crippling lack of corporate sponsorship. The announcement followed a unanimous vote at a Board of Governors meeting in New York.
"It's a sad day for all of us who have labored in all of this," said WUSA founder John Hendricks, chairman of Silver Spring-based Discovery Communications.
Hendricks and an investment group consisting of several cable television concerns started the eight-team league in partnership with many of the top players from the 1999 U.S. team. Hendricks said he became "intoxicated" by the public and corporate success of the 1999 World Cup and the popularity of stars like Hamm, who helped the Washington Freedom win the league championship last month and lead the league in attendance.
League officials and players hoped the upcoming World Cup might create new sources of sponsorship and investment for the league, but Hendricks said yesterday there was not enough money to stay in business another day, avoid bankruptcy and still provide severance packages to employees.
"We didn't see any immediate impact [from the World Cup] that could bridge the funding problem," Hendricks said. "My singular disappointment, as we witnessed with all the sponsorship support off the '99 World Cup, the financial support and the creative commercials you all remember that introduced America to the players, was we felt that kind of support would be shifted to a league that would operate full-time. Unfortunately that has not materialized."
Many soccer officials questioned making the announcement so soon before the opening of the World Cup, a 16-team, 32-match event that will be played in 23 days in six U.S. cities, including the opening ceremonies and three doubleheaders at RFK Stadium. Organizers already had to rush to put the event together after it was moved from China in May because of concern about the SARS epidemic in Asia. And unlike the 1999 World Cup, which was played in the summer and faced competition primarily from baseball, this year's event will compete with professional and college football for the nation's attention.
"The business decision I understand, but the timing I don't understand. The timing was poor," said U.S. men's national team coach Bruce Arena from Charlottesville.
Hendricks defended the decision as a "fairness issue" for the majority of the league's players and employees, who will not be involved in the upcoming World Cup.
Nineteen of the 20 members of the U.S. national team play in the WUSA, but U.S. Coach April Heinrichs said she does not believe receiving such bad news so close to an important event will hurt the team's performance.
"It's a dark day for the national team to hear this news," Heinrichs said. "There will be a few days where we deal with a dark cloud but then we'll move on. I think our women are some of the best in the world in compartmentalizing."
The national team heard the news yesterday afternoon while training in Charlottesville, from veteran midfielder Julie Foudy, who sits on the Board of Governors and participated in the meeting via conference call.
According to Bobby Goldwater, the executive director of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, 57,000 of about 150,000 seats for the three RFK Stadium World Cup dates are sold. Goldwater said the majority of the 57,000 are for Sunday, the only appearance of the U.S. team at RFK.
The league's regular season attendance declined from an average of 8,116 in 2001 to 6,667 this past year. A business plan calling for $40 million to be spent over five years tanked, with more than $100 million paid out in expenses in WUSA's first three years. Big corporate investors such as Time Warner Cable, Comcast and Cox Enterprises were wracked by a difficult recession. By last season, the founding players, who share equity in the league, took a 25 percent pay cut.
Hendricks, who resides in suburban Maryland and operates the Freedom, and Freedom General Manager Katy Button each said that the league met its original attendance goals and that the WUSA's poor television presence -- nationally televised games averaged a 0.1 rating on PAX this season -- was not the reason for yesterday's decision.
The future of the WUSA, pinned to attracting investors interested in operating individual franchises, hinged on the financial health that only could be guaranteed through the sale of eight "charter" sponsorships valued at approximately $2.5 million. The WUSA has only two major national sponsorship deals and was unable to sell more despite several promising meetings in recent months.
"Every time I see a deal with a male athlete for a shoe for five, 10 million dollars, I say, 'Goodness, why don't you invest in 160 players and an international league and all these fans?' " Hendricks said. "If you want some kind of gender equity in sports, you have to step up to the plate. You can be involved in this, and every day you say, 'What can I do today to keep [Freedom midfielder] Jacqui Little having a salary?' I feel so badly for the players."
Hendricks acknowledged that a recessionary economy likely put a dent in corporate interest. But he said much of the hesitancy from potential sponsors arose from the league's poor financial performance.
"I would say that corporate sponsorship has been the issue from day one," Button said. "I think that's the essence of it. We could not meet the funding requirements in our business plan without greater corporate support. It's important for our fans to know that this is not in any way from a shortage of fan support. Our attendance was right where our business plan called for it to be."
The loss of the Freedom for 2004 would cost the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission between $250,000 and $350,000 in revenue from rent, parking and concessions at RFK Stadium, Goldwater said. The Freedom would have played 10 regular season home dates, including two doubleheaders, plus a tentative playoff game, Goldwater said.
The commission already is under pressure from the D.C. Council to cut $1.8 million from its budget to keep its cash reserve above $3 million at the end of the fiscal year.
The end of the WUSA is a personal blow to Hendricks, a longtime soccer supporter whose two teenaged children play and who became enamored of the women's game during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. By the time the WUSA kicked off in 2001 he already had invested a considerable sum in the 19-field Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown, which includes an indoor facility and has hosted the Freedom, D.C. United and the past two U.S. Youth Soccer national championship tournaments.
But the $14 million facility, which opened in October 2000, has had its share of financial trouble. The SoccerPlex has been unable to sell naming rights to a corporate sponsor and was forced to raise usage fees paid by players, clubs and tournament participants.
Hendricks and Button were careful to leave the door open for a possible return of the WUSA but admitted it would take a miraculous turn of events. Yesterday's dissolution of the league office meant that only the players would be able to pitch their sport to potential sponsors.
"They still have economic power because of their fame," Hendricks said. "They can use the platform of the
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