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Chicago latest team to fold
by Paul Kennedy, December 14th, 2010 1:28AM
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TAGS:  college women


[WPS]Women's Professional Soccer lost it fourth franchise in the last 11 months when the Chicago Red Stars, second in the league in average attendance in 2010, announced they are suspending operations, a casualty of the decision of champion FC Gold Pride to fold.

"This has been a very difficult and complex decision," Red Stars part-owner and governor Arnim Whislersaid in a statement. "We love this team, our players, staff and fans. Everything was trending well for our breakthrough 2011 season, but the abrupt loss of the Bay Area team scared away some of our planned investors, and we simply could not recover in time."

The WPS had given the Red Stars until Dec. 15 to commit to the 2011 season. It will operate with six teams and play an 18-game schedule.

The Red Stars played their two seasons at Toyota Park, home of MLS's Chicago Fire, and drew 4,025 fans a game in 2010, putting them second in the league in attendance. They failed to make the playoffs either year.

Before FC Gold Pride, the Los Angeles Sol folded before the 2010 season started and St. Louis Athletica went under in mid-season.

Only three original teams -- New Jersey-based Sky Blue FC, Boston and Washington -- remain, and the Washington almost folded.

The Freedom may have a new name and (part-time) home in 2011. The new owner is Dan Borislowof magicJack fame.

  1. David Sirias
    commented on: December 14, 2010 at 12:18 p.m.
    This is sad. Partly a function of launchingin a crappy economy. Partly self inflicted by paying a few starts more than they were really worth. Credit for women's soccer trying to be self sufficient. But look at other European counties with soccer pedigree and culture: even there the the women's club teams are subsidized by men's teams. WUSA and WPS proved there is only one solution: be subsidized by( partner with if you wish) MLS. Hold off with your reflexive rejection of the idea. Yes, MLS has many teams losing money. But not for long. There are sufficient money makers and deep pockets in the league( TFC SEA LA NYRB) to go with a women's circuit right now. Branded and colored the same, the ladies games could be hel, before the men's game. Tickets sold out of the same marketing department, ladies only packages avialable. To every yin there is yang. For every young urban male ultra there is a suburban soccer mom and young daughter--who if they grow up in the club culture will maintain those ties. In other words, what's good for soccer in the usa is good for MLS, and a viable place for half the athletes to aspire to is good for soccer in the USA. This kind of vision is needed. I hope MLS invites WPS to sit down and agree on some framework. Kill the WPS season in 2011 and start fresh in 2012. IT's the only solution as I see it. And one day the ladies won't lose any money.
  1. David Huff
    commented on: December 14, 2010 at 12:24 p.m.
    I concur with David, I think it is the only viable economic model available which will provide the needed economic stability for the women's game, look at how it is done in England and Sweden.
  1. Gail Santa Maria
    commented on: December 14, 2010 at 5:32 p.m.
    I would hate to see the women's league disappear. There are too many young girls in this country that love the game and deserve the chance to play professionally at home. I agree that probably the only solution is to partner with an MLS team and share expenses, advertising, fields, etc. I don't see anything wrong with that. It could be good for both sides. I don't see any need for the women's league to be independent. I'd much rather have this partnership with MLS than to see the women's league fold.
  1. Clayton Berling
    commented on: December 14, 2010 at 6:05 p.m.
    I can understand that many men don't respect the Women's Game, probably because they still have that testosterone feeling that only mass and strength can produce a satisfying athletic event. I feel sorry for them and hope that they can wake up to what can happen in sports when women are provided adequate backing. We know it can happen as we have seen it in tennis, golf, and basketball to note a few. Even there women's skills and flair don't seem satisfying enough for some. But for those of us who have seen the attractive game which women can play, we have also seen the elegance and grace, as well as stamina which sports has to offer. In the BIG events of Olympics and World Cup, spectators are fully rewarded. Many of us are part of that audience. But it does not happen without an investment in the game BY the game. The WPS, an infant in women's sports, needs the backing of USSoccer, The USSoccer Foundation, MLS and corporate sponsors. Great advancements in new products, like the electric car, air travel, healthcare, come about because of subsidies from governments and corporations. Women's soccer needs that kind of attention. If it happens, we'll all be the better for it, and so will the game.
  1. Larry Watson
    commented on: December 14, 2010 at 7:25 p.m.
    To steal a line from the recently departed Don Meredith, turn out the lights, the party's over.....The politically correct in our society need to stop shoving things down our collective societal throats that we have said time and again we don't want. Women's sports is near the top of that list. Does anyone seriously think the WNBA would even be in business without the propping up by the NBA. MLS Commish Garber, has said he wants no part of the sinking ship that is the women's game. Stick a fork in it, please.
  1. Sarah Thompson
    commented on: December 14, 2010 at 11:01 p.m.
    This is really disappointing news. I believe it is essential, among other things, that the league receives media attention in order to reach as many people as possible. Please follow this link to sign a petition to ask ESPN to report on the WPS in their Bottomline ticker.
  1. Sue Green
    commented on: December 15, 2010 at 3:12 p.m.
    Thanks, Sarah, great petition--I signed. We need more people like you to support women's leagues. Every start-up -- business or sports -- needs time, investment and the support of its fans/customers to become self-sustaining.
  1. John Pepple
    commented on: December 15, 2010 at 10:40 p.m.
    It is sad that this team is folding, but if you are only getting 4,000 fans per game in a huge metropolitan area, then you are doing something wrong. That something is probably ticket prices that are too high. The Minnesota Kicks in the old NASL had cheap tickets with free parking. They would regularly draw 30,000 fans per game. It is ridiculous that, as far as I can tell, this isn't being tried.
  1. Kathy Splifford
    commented on: December 18, 2010 at 7:57 p.m.
    The system needed is one that cooperates with MLS. The majority of games should be double headers played at times prior to the mens MLS games. Example Women kickoff at 6:00. Men's kickoff 8 pm. The men's teams should help sponsor or have a womens team themselves.

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