New Jersey/New York, Boston groups commit to league, bringing total charter markets to eight
April 18th, 2007 (SAN FRANCISCO, CA) – Owners from two East Coast markets, New York/New Jersey and Boston, have joined with six other groups to relaunch women’s professional soccer in the United States.
The relaunch effort is led by the Women’s Soccer Initiative, Inc. (WSII). With New Jersey/New York and Boston now confirmed, the WSII has met its initial goal to have eight teams signed before the league’s planned launch in Spring, 2008.
“The signing of these two new markets is an important milestone,” WSII CEO Tonya Antonucci said. “It’s a critical step in making our dream of relaunching the WUSA a reality. There’s a lot of hard work ahead, but we’re excited to move forward.”
US National Team member Abby Wambach said she is glad to see the new league moving forward. “The growth of women’s soccer across the country is such a huge plus for both players and fans,” she said. “People will get to experience first-hand what this sport is about, and what it can bring to their lives.”
New Jersey/New York – Sky Blue Soccer – skybluefc.com
“We are excited to be part of the founding members of the new women’s professional soccer league,” said Thomas Hofstetter, CEO of Sky Blue Soccer. “A completely changed business model and a highly competent and proven group of owners will make this league not only the leading league in women’s pro soccer in the world, but will also help to solidify the entire US soccer community as a leading force in world soccer.”
Sky Blue Soccer includes:
- Thomas Hofstetter, CEO of Extolution, Inc.
- Phil Murphy, former executive at Goldman Sachs
- Francesco Prandoni, CEO of DOC-International, Inc.
- Doug Rotatori, Managing Principal, Odyssey Investment Partners, LLC
A fully operational company, New Jersey-based Sky Blue Soccer is internationally recognized as a leading women’s soccer club.
“By joining the new women’s professional soccer league, Sky Blue Soccer completes its strategic vision in building a club modeled on successful European clubs,” Hofstetter said. “Our integration with youth programs in the New York metro area provides an end-to-end feeder system from youth clubs to amateur soccer to the professional level.”
Boston – Boston Women’s Soccer LLC – www.bostonbreakerssoccer.com
“Boston is one of the country’s best sports cities,” said Michael Stoller, Managing Partner of Boston ownership group Boston Women’s Soccer LLC. “And the Boston Breakers were the most successful franchise in the former WUSA, so the relaunch is a natural fit for us.”
Boston Women’s Soccer LLC includes:
Gary Loveman, Chairman and CEO, Harrah’s Entertainment
Michael Stoller, Managing Partner of the group and former owner of Senior Living LLC. Stoller is the VP of Newton Girls Soccer, one of the largest all-girls soccer clubs in the country
Alex Zecca, a VP with Tudor Investments
Louis Hernandez, Chairman and CEO of Open Solutions and an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Lyman Bullard, a partner at Choate, Hall and Stewart LLP and owner of an AHL Franchise
Bill Helman, a partner with Greylock, a venture capital firm with over $2 billion under management.
Joe Cummings will serve as president of the new organization. Cummings was president and General Manager of the WUSA’s Boston Breakers from May 2000 until 2003, the final year of play in the league. The new organization will also use the Boston Breakers name.
“Each of our investors has a great love of soccer,” Cummings said. “Almost all have daughters who play or played at a high level, and they saw a void in sports without women’s pro soccer. They want to give everyone the opportunity to see the best players play this sport.”
“These markets are vibrant media and cultural centers, and it’s great to have them on board,” Antonucci said. “We now have a strong East Coast presence and an important base for fan development as we pursue sponsorship and partnership opportunities.”
Antonucci explained that these partnerships at the foundation of the league will separate it from the previous incarnation of the WUSA. In particular, the new league aims to have its teams play in venues designed for the sport, referred to as soccer-specific stadiums.
“We’re working hard to make this league an authentic soccer experience for our fans,” Antonucci explained. “Our objective is to showcase teams in small-to mid sized soccer specific stadiums. We’ll bring fans closer to the action, the field and the players,” she said.
Wambach said being “closer” to the fans means being good role models. “This is an opportunity for women to have a strong voice, a positive national presence,” she said. “We’re going to have a product anyone, especially young girls, can look up to. That’s a really rewarding aspect of this opportunity.”
The league plans a launch in April 2008. “The momentum is really starting to build throughout the country,” Antonucci said. “And this is just the beginning. We’ve reached our initial goal of eight markets, but we’d be thrilled to have up to two more franchise groups join the league at launch. We’re very open to the right opportunities.”
About the WSII
The WSII (www.wsii.org) is a non-profit organization backed by grants from the U.S. Soccer Federation and U.S. Soccer Foundation. The organization was founded to build a new business plan to relaunch women’s professional soccer in the United States. Eight ownership groups have signed letters of intent to launch teams in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., St. Louis, Dallas, Chicago, New Jersey/New York, Boston and a market to be named later. Tonya Antonucci is the CEO of WSII. On the web at www.wsii.org.