[WPS] Soccer-specific stadiums owned and operated by MLS clubs have fueled the boom of the Division I men's pro league. Now Women's Professional Soccer has gotten into the act with its first soccer-specific stadium.
Atlanta opens the 8,300-seat Kennesaw State University Soccer Stadium, owned by the KSU Foundation and managed by the Beat, Sunday when the expansion Beat hosts Sky Blue FC in a match televised live on Fox Sports Channel (7 p.m. ET).
The facility is located on the KSU Sports & Recreation Park, about a mile from the school's main campus. It cost $16.5 million and was paid for by private donations and student fees. One of the principal donors was Beat owner T. Fitz Johnson.
Kennesaw State sponsors women's soccer but not men's soccer. It was a Division II power before moving up to Division I.
The KSU Stadium will be primarily used for soccer but also can be expanded to seat 16,000 for concerts.
Just as MLS teams suffered in their early years as tenants in unattractive facilities, WPS teams in some venues find themselves stuck with secondary dates. As tenants, they also lose out on various revenue streams.
"Sunday's home opener in Atlanta at KSU Soccer Stadium is one of the biggest moments in the development of our league since we launched last March," said WPS Commissioner Tonya Antonucci. "Sports-specific stadiums have been crucial to the long-term success and growth of all leagues – both young and established ones – and we're incredibly pleased to have one of our own teams build a new stadium in their first year as a team and in the second year overall for WPS."
The Beat will host the 2010 WPS All-Star Game on June 30.