SAN FRANCISCO (May 27, 2008) – As Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) prepares for its inaugural 2009 season, WPS Commissioner Tonya Antonucci announced today that Philadelphia investors have signed a letter of intent with the League regarding an expansion team for the 2010 season. Slated to host a team for 2010, Philadelphia is the league’s eighth franchise, while WPS play commences next April in seven cities: Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New Jersey/New York, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.
“Since signing on the dotted line with our initial seven investor groups in September of last year, we’ve had our sights set on adding an eighth team to the league,” said Antonucci. “In Philadelphia, we have the perfect foundation for success, combining a strong operating group with the city’s recent acquisition of an MLS team to create a prime market for women’s soccer.
“Yet, even with Philadelphia beginning play in 2010, we haven’t ruled out the possibility of having an eighth WPS team play in the 2009 inaugural season,” added Antonucci. “The league is exploring a number of solid expansion opportunities in other cities with the intention of adding another team by year’s end.” Additional expansion options include the California Bay Area; San Diego, Calif.; Cary, N.C.; and Atlanta, Ga.
Matthew Driver, CEO of the Delaware Valley’s Team Dynamic, LLC, will serve as managing partner of the Philadelphia WPS team. The investor group, which includes David Hershey, managing partner and owner of the NJ/NY Boat Show, will be comprised primarily of local personnel with ties to the region’s many youth soccer programs. Driver plans to bring on additional investors within the next year and, as with other teams within WPS, is already exploring potential synergies between the Philadelphia WPS and MLS teams. It is expected that home games will be played at MLS Philadelphia’s soccer-specific stadium to be built in Chester, Pa.
“WPS is poised to be the premier women’s soccer league in the world and I’m honored to be a part of the movement,” said Driver. “Even more so, I’m proud to give local fans access to the highest caliber of women’s play and help put Philadelphia on the map when it comes to professional soccer.”
Added Hershey: “I see a tremendous opportunity to reap a large return from my investment by getting in from the beginning. The timing is right for the boom in women’s professional soccer in the Delaware Valley region.”
“This is an exciting time to be a fan of professional soccer in Philadelphia,” said Nick Sakiewicz, CEO & Operating Partner of MLS Philadelphia. “If the response to the arrival of WPS is anything like what we’ve been receiving, then the new women’s team will do very well in Philadelphia. We look forward to identifying ways in which we can partner with WPS to further elevate professional soccer in this region.”
“A number of cities have expressed interest in hosting a WPS team and Philadelphia in particular is a hotbed of soccer talent and enthusiasm. Soccer fans have made it clear that they want a women’s team in Philly to complement the new MLS team,” said Michael Stoller, managing partner of the Boston Breakers WPS team. “Matt’s experience with minor league, professional teams, and youth soccer will serve him well in developing the WPS team’s brand identity and driving ticket sales. We’re honored and excited to welcome him to the WPS family.”
Philadelphia, the nation’s fourth largest television market, provides a prime opportunity for WPS. The region, which extends from Eastern Pennsylvania to Southern New Jersey to Northern Delaware, boasts more than 400,000 registered youth and adult soccer participants. From 2001-2003, Philadelphia hosted a Women’s United Soccer Association team, the Charge, which exposed many fans in the area to professional women’s soccer. Moreover, even before MLS announced that it would establish a team in Philadelphia, nearly 2,000 eager fans pledged to buy season tickets.
“We’ve said all along that WPS will be a league built on long-term growth and stability, and expansion into Philadelphia is simply reflective of that strategy,” said Antonucci. “With such strong leadership and an enthusiastic core fan base, the Philadelphia WPS team will no doubt be a successful venture on its own, while simultaneously contributing to the overall awareness and popularity of women’s soccer in North America.”
In addition to serving as vice president of marketing for the Tropicana Casino & Resort in Atlantic City, N.J., Driver’s list of soccer accomplishments is long, having served as first assistant coach of the MLS New England Revolution and founder of the South Jersey Barons, the first professional minor league soccer team in Southern New Jersey. Renowned for his innovative coaching philosophy focused on block defending and counterattacking schemes, Driver authored the book “Coaching Dynamics,” as well as produced and starred in three-best selling coaching videos. He holds several industry accreditations, including a USSF A License, NSCAA Premier License, NSCAA Advanced National Diploma, Brazilian A License and Scottish Football Association A-I License and has served as the State Director of Coaching for the NSCAA for the state of Delaware and as the Director of Olympic Development Program for Delaware.
Driver pioneered a minor league soccer system in the Delaware Valley and owns three WPSL teams – the AC Diablos in South Jersey; the CDSA Future in Dover, Del; and the Philadelphia Liberty in West Chester, Pa. – and one National Premier Soccer League (NPSL, Men) team in the immediate region. More than 100 of the nation’s top female college stars, many of whom aspire to play in WPS, already compete for Driver’s WPSL teams.
He is also the owner of the Youth Premier Soccer League (YPSL), the youth component of the WPSL and NPSL. Additionally, Driver operates a summer select youth program and runs camps and clinics servicing the Delaware Valley’s youth soccer clubs and associations. The minor league teams and their youth programs provide a natural connection to the local soccer community and are designed to help the Delaware Valley Region’s young players ascend the developmental ladder from youth to the minor to the pro ranks.
About Team Dynamics, LLC
Team Dynamics was founded to provide youth soccer players with access to the highest level, most accomplished coaches in the Delaware Valley area and beyond. The staff members are highly regarded and successful professional coaches with incredible track records in player development. Individually, they possess an amazing wealth of knowledge and experience at every level of soccer here in the United States – Olympic Development Program (ODP), Super Y-League (SYL), Collegiate, United Soccer Leagues (USL/PDL/D3 Pro League/A League), Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL), National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), and, of course, Major League Soccer. For more information, visit www.teamdynamicsllc.com.
About Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS)
The mission of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) is to be the premier women’s soccer league in the world and the global standard by which women’s professional sports are measured. Play kicks off in the spring of 2009, with WPS teams based in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New Jersey/New York, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. The league will expand to eight teams by 2010 with the inclusion of Philadelphia. For more information, visit www.womensprosoccer.com.
Fleishman-Hillard Sports Business