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4. WOMEN: Investors commit to launch of new major league
February 28th, 2007 1:43AM
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Four years after the WUSA folded following three seasons, Women's Soccer Initiative, Inc., has announced the commitment of six investment groups to launch a new major pro women's soccer league in 2008.

The six announced charter teams will be led by the following investors:

AEG: Greater Los Angeles
John Hendricks, Freedom Soccer LLC: Washington D.C.
Jeff Cooper, St. Louis United Soccer LLC: St. Louis, Mo
Soccer Initiative, LLC: Territory to be determined.
Jack Hanks and Brent Coralli, Dallas Franchise Group: Greater Dallas area.
WGLSI, LLC and an additional investor: Chicago and Bridgeview, Ill.

"We knew we would get one chance at this re-launch," said Tonya Antonucci, chief executive officer of the Women's Soccer Initiative Inc. "We spent a lot of time studying and researching. We knew we had to cut costs to get those in line with actual revenues."

The backers of the six teams have signed letters of intent and have reportedly made financial commitments. The projected cost of operating each franchise is $1.5 million to $2.5 million a year.

Negotiations are underway with MLS's marketing division to handle the new league's sponsorship and marketing.

Plans are to kick off in April of 2008, seven months after the 2007 Women's World Cup in China.

Shawn Hunter, president of AEG, which also owns the MLS's Los Angeles Galaxy, told the Associated Press that having the new league's teams owned and operated by organizations with ties to MLS "is a critical and significant component to launching a league that can have immediate credibility and success."

Although the WUSA failed despite about $100 million of investment, the WSII believes that efficient management and soccer-specific stadiums - the use of which it is negotiating with MLS clubs -- will enable it to succeed.

"We have taken both the lessons and the successes of the WUSA and applied them to create a business model that makes good economic sense," Antonucci said.

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