Buffalo/Rochester/Upstate NY

Discussion in 'Western New York Flash' started by kool-aide, Aug 16, 2010.

  1. DazzRef

    DazzRef Member

    Jul 13, 2009
    Buffalo NY
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I referee at the facility, but am an independent contractor - so while I work at SSP , I don't have any linkage to Sahlen family or have any in-depth knowledge of the negotiations with WPS. I'm only going by what I've heard throughout the community. I wanted to clear that point up with you so that you get that I have no bias in this conversation. I would've thought that you'd be aware of that, especially as a former coach and leading member of a soccer club in the area.

    So let me get this straight - WPS is willing to take in a short-term investor whose only interest will be to have a soccer team around only as long as it fulfills the whims of his daughter and son-in-law? And seeing that this is a short-term solution, what is the expected payback for WPS by going through all this? Why not put the emphasis on where it belongs - expanding the base in the existing cities and not worrying about expansion until the situation looks brighter? There's got to be a pay-off.....so if everyone "knows" this, then why go through with it if there is more expected negative impact than positive impact?

    This assertion really puzzles me - the Flash are looking for a soccer specific venue to call home, yet in the Buffalo area no other facility is lined only for soccer. It's just Niagara Univ, and that's it - so you're telling me that the Flash are holding Niagara U over a barrel because they want to use the field but would "withhold" donations to the school if the Flash organization didn't get their way. I find it difficult to believe that this would be the case - if anything, I would think that this is the other way around.....that Niagara U would be holding the cards here because of the Flash's desire to be in a facility that is soccer specific. There are more positive linkages between the Niagara University situation and the Sahlen family than there could possibly be negative ones - since the Flash are going to fund an expansion of the facility to 4000 seats, you would think that this is more of a mutually beneficial arrangement than one side holding the other over a barrel. The fact that Alex Sahlen and Peter Veltri (Niagara University Women's Coach) are also members of the Flash organization, would seem (on it's face) to imply that the negotiations would be smoother than what you claim. And, wouldn't Veltri be putting his neck on the line with Niagara by being involved in a group that was using "heavy handed" tactics to get their own way?

    So to recap - you've blasted the ownership for how they're aligned, called the whole enterprise short term (even though you've said that you want to see the team succeed), and seem to have multiple sources who are completely "in the know" on the entire situation but couldn't get the facts straight about where ownership was located. You lived in the Buffalo area for somewhere in the vicinity of 14-17 years on and off, and supposedly have all the linkages to the entire situation, but probably haven't been to a Flash game at all (since you're in IN). Then you want to blast me for the things that I've heard, when I've been a lifelong resident, a member of the local soccer community for well more than 25 years in multiple capacities, and have actually been to the majority of the W-League games here in the area. You tell me that I have "gall" to call you biased, but in all honesty, you have had more to say that is negative than what could possibly be a positive about the situation. With all the negative points you bring up, I personally find your arguments dubious, at best.

    The fact that I'm challenging your assertions may bug you, but I'm not relying on a "friend of a friend of a cousin's friend that might know something about the situation via third hand knowledge". I'm in the area, and I've talked to folks about what this enterprise could mean for Buffalo. I don't have insider knowledge within the Flash organization, but I have heard things....and the things that I've heard are mostly positive. If you want to think that I'm "drinking the Kool-Aid" because I've actually been around and am giving you personal observations, than so be it. Your connections to the situation seem to be, in a couple of words, too convenient. Word out of the organization about their future plans has been so tight-lipped since the end of the W-League season, I find it hard to believe your sources are feeding you accurate (and unbiased) information.

    Aaron
     
  2. CodyJarrett

    CodyJarrett Member

    Dec 7, 2009
    Bloomington, IN
    Club:
    Tottenham Hotspur FC
    Nat'l Team:
    England
    Hold on now. I didn’t write that.

    For any enterprise on very fragile ground, ANY additional stability – even short term – is something your pursue. For what WPS is right now, this is ALL positive for them. They need franchises and need them now. Credibility, revenue, balance, selling advertising, etc. require them to have more teams and investors then they did as of Memorial Day when St. Louis backed out. No one else was interested and or prepared to add a franchise for next season. So WPS gets what it needs, for the short term at least. So, yes, WPS is willing to accept potential short term investment than none at all. And after St. Louis screwed the league this year, I could imagine that they might appreciate the honest approach that the Sahlens put on the table.

    Each of the existing clubs gets a cut of the fees paid by any new franchise – i.e. it’s new revenue that they can put back into their franchises, into the league, into their pockets, etc. (those specifics are likely written into the charter or whatever documents govern the business enterprise that is WPS). It’s like any other enterprise in which you bring someone in as a partner. The new partner makes an investment, the other partners get some resources poured back into the enterprise or their own pockets or into their portfolios, and collectively they increase their relative net worth.

    The potential short term investment by Sahlen is premised on their acknowledgment that they can accept a certain amount of financial loss in the endeavor. As you pointed out, they’re not idiots when it comes to running a business, and they are willing to invest a certain amount of their own resources on an annual basis after the initial start-up costs. And if their out of pocket expenses reach a certain level, they pull out. But when they did they math, they made it clear to WPS that the enterprise would need to meet certain benchmarks if their investment would last after year 3. Those benchmarks are pretty bold and aspirational (some consider the non-realistic). The reason they’re splitting their schedule between WNY and Rochester is to fill as many seats as possible (in Rochester) when Abby comes to town.



    Slow down, buddy. I have three colleagues on the NU faculty – one who I met through service to a national organization affiliated with our discipline, one who I know from when I took classes at UB, and one who did doctoral work with my faculty advisor when my advisor was at the University of Pennsylvania. Academia is a small world and you maintain relationships, especially with colleagues who work at institutions or in communities to which you are connected. I am not about to identify them in this forum just to appease you – Catholic schools have a nasty habit of firing even tenured faculty when they don’t toe the party line.

    Anyhow, they each have significant administrative responsibilities at the university and they collectively contacted me because of my interest in and involvement with soccer, coupled with my experience working with partnerships between for-profit and not-for-profit enterprises. They expressed concern about the nature of the Sahlen’s proposal to the university because it came together more quickly than NU would have preferred; they were approached by the Sahlens and/or their reps, and they wanted a commitment from NU within weeks of the meeting. When NU wanted to slow things down to properly evaluate options, consult with their attorneys, and just do their due diligence, the Sahlens – who had their own deadlines – threatened to pull their short and long term pledges of financial support to the university.

    NU is not a wealthy school, support from the Catholic Church has largely dried up (as a proportion of operating expenditures) and the population of Catholics in Niagara County is aging and their support for the university is dwindling. The university it is increasingly reliant on tuition in order to operate, and they are considering tapping into their endowment’s principle just to pay the bills in any given year. Without getting too much further into higher education finance, let’s just state a couple things as facts: 1. Utilizing your endowment to pay the bills is a really, really bad idea, and 2. in 2008 American college and university endowments took the same kind of hits in the market that most individuals saw with their own investments; as I understand, NU’s endowment dropped in value somewhere in the range of 15-18% in ’08, and 3. universities are relying more than ever on increasingly larger donations from a decreasing number of friends and alumni.

    So, formal church and broad-based diocese support for Niagara University is decreasing, reliance on tuition is increasing, the value of their endowment has decreased (therefore there returns off the endowment are also lower), and one the wealthiest families with which they are affiliated (the Sahlen family) is threatening to pull their support to the university. THAT, my friend, is called strapping the Vincentians over a barrel.

    Give us what we want, or we withhold what you need. And you think the deck is stacked for NU?

    Oh, and the ‘gift’ of a seating expansion will take the form of a donation to a non-profit organization (NU), which makes it a donation to a non-profit, which makes it tax deductible for the Flash, Sahlen family, or whatever incorporated entity the Sahlens set up to manage this. In other words, whatever they spend, they get back. And the gift does nothing for NU – it’s not as if they’re going to be filling those stands for their games with paid attendees. So what do they get out of it again? This all works in for Sahlens benefit – they get something for free, get credited with a gift to a non-profit, and then pay a nominal fee to NU to use the facility.

    I’ve blasted no one. I’ve identified a legitimate concern that others with whom I have discussed the topic have shared. It’s a yellow flag and even those with an intimate knowledge of the proceedings have to acknowledge that it doesn’t look right. That’s not a knock on the Sahlens – that’s looking at an unprecedented overlap in management/ownership/player/coaching and saying ‘hmmm – that has a lot of ways that it could go wrong.’

    I’ve identified that the family and WPS recognize the duration of the franchise is tied directly to achieving certain fiscal benchmarks that are, at best, aspirational. My interest in the club’s success is in lieu of those concerns.

    - Family and friends in Lewiston who work for and are neighbors to NU.
    - Family in Lewiston who were heavily involved in youth soccer in WNY, and who remain pretty well connected to many folks still involved in youth soccer.
    - Academic colleagues who work at NU.
    - A colleague from business school who works for the Sahlens.

    I didn’t consult with any of them about location the Sahlens’ enterprises and I’ve owned that stupid-ass mistake on my part.

    And whether or not I have been to a Flash game is a non-issue in this topic. But, if you somehow think it lends to my credibility one way or the other, I attended the a game over Memorial Day Weekend in Buffalo and then two game on consecutive nights a month later against Chicago/Kalamazoo because the schedule fit our travel plans almost to a tee. We would have attended the championship game is my daughter didn’t have a recital in Louisville. (Now you can tell me I didn’t attend enough games or enough home games.)


    I have heard things, too. Many are positive. I’ve also heard things that are giving people pause and you seem to disagree with the messenger. Fine. You said yourself that the Sahlens are good at business - you're right, they are. And the things I have heard don't suggest otherwise. They are watching out for their own interests and, as I understand it, some of the ways they're doing it is concerning. The whole thing can work out, and for goodness sakes, I hope it does. But what I want should not prevent me from looking at the situation with a critical and concerned eye. If what I'm hearing is BS, or overblown, or simply a really perverted version of the truth, then good! But I currently have no reason to believe that other than to listen to an independent contractor ref from WNY saying I'm wrong and I'm full of it. Fair. Maybe we can get into name calling next?



    Your connections are personal and casual. Mine are professional and personal. I’m sorry they’re convenient. From now on I’ll only comment on topics to which I have no connection, or just inconvenient connections. If we can get everyone to do that, then these forums can become completely absurd, as opposed to just moderately so as they are now.



    Respond as you need to - this is my last post in this thread.
     
  3. kool-aide

    kool-aide Member+

    Feb 1, 2002
    a van by the river
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I certainly hope this post was not your last one on WNY expansion. As a person with zero connections to WNY but w/ a huge interest in WPS, I value input from folks w/ connections to the area.
     
  4. DazzRef

    DazzRef Member

    Jul 13, 2009
    Buffalo NY
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I will respond - with a kind thank you for further clarifying your earlier statements and points. And, if I came off as too abrasive, it's only because of the differences between what you and I were bringing to the table didn't seem to match up. Now that you've clarified where you're coming from, and further positioned how it affected how this whole situation, I can see where your concerns are much better than before.

    And no, I won't resort to name calling - but if you're ever going to be in town for a game, we can meet up for an "adult beverage" and recap this whole discussion in a different manner. Deal? ;)
     
  5. MRAD12

    MRAD12 Member+

    Jun 10, 2004
    Chicago
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Those of you who have watched Buffalo play this year, how many players do you think they will keep from their Championship team from the W-League? How many of those players are ready to play in the WPS next season?

    Boquete played with Chicago this summer after the W-League ended and I hope that Chicago will resign her.
     
  6. StarCityFan

    StarCityFan BigSoccer Supporter

    Aug 2, 2001
    Greenbelt, MD
    Club:
    Washington Freedom
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    And Kelly Parker went to Sky Blue.
     
  7. DazzRef

    DazzRef Member

    Jul 13, 2009
    Buffalo NY
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    In my opinion, I believe that most of the squad would be able to play at a WPS level. In terms of retaining talent, that's a different story.

    The Flash had 7 total internationals by my count, and we'd have to see how many of them are retained. The English contingent (Davison, Heatherson, Pond, and Holtham) is fairly strong, and would give WNY a good balance on the field. Tajonar would be a good starting GK [and for what it's worth, I'd love to sign Erin Kane (W-League, Chicago Red Eleven) as a free agent backup if we don't go with a GK in the expansion draft, or pick one up through the college draft.] With Bouquete and Parker gone, the only other "international" is Kim Brandao - she's listed as a Portugese national player, but lives in the area. I don't know how that would play out, but that would give us 6 total internationals on the roster.

    The rest of the US-based players should get a serious look. If WNY has a choice, I'd also like to see them pick up some talent from the 1st year W-League team roster that left - I'd love for them to pick Rosie Tantillo back up off of FCGP's roster (since she's only a developmental player) and give her a full time roster spot in tandem with Mele French. Jessica O'Rourke, and Erika Sutton would be nice re-additions to the roster too.

    If I read it correctly, WNY will pick up at least 4-5 players out of an expansion draft, and probably another 3-4 players out of the college draft. If they can maintain last year's roster and add a few key players, they'll have a competitive squad. Then again, if I had my way, I'd want Bouquete and Parker back, but I don't think that will happen. :D

    Aaron
     
  8. RUfan

    RUfan Member

    Dec 11, 2004
    NJ
    Club:
    Sky Blue FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Kim Brandao is a New Jersey native and former Rutgers player, so I would believe would not be considered as a Int'l player. I think she tried out at camps for Sky Blue this year and did not make it.

    French was a development player for Sky Blue in '09. O'Rourke was a late round draft pick by Chicago in '09 and cut early.
     
  9. kool-aide

    kool-aide Member+

    Feb 1, 2002
    a van by the river
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    What RUfan may be trying to say in a much nicer way is, no, the Flash 2010 WLeague squad would not be able to play at a WPS level--or at least not at a winning level. Many (not all) of them were with the Flash b/c they could not make WPS squads. Some individual players might be able to take the step up but the entire team? No. And since Boquete and Parker have moved to WPS clubs, that makes the Flash roster even thinner in terms of WPS talent.

    Although, you very well may be able to get Parker back--no idea what her contract status is and I can't really see SBFC putting her on the 10 protected list unless she's under contract and they have a lot of free agents.

    I do foresee CRS putting Boquete on the protected 10.
     
  10. luvdagame

    luvdagame Member+

    Jul 6, 2000
    most of the players i saw play in the wleague final look like they can play in the wps.

    but i've learned before that looks can be deceiving. most of them probably won't be able to make it, even tho an additional team offers 18 or so additional opportunities to do so.
     
  11. kool-aide

    kool-aide Member+

    Feb 1, 2002
    a van by the river
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Interesting. Even though multiple players on that roster were cut from WPS teams?
     
  12. StarCityFan

    StarCityFan BigSoccer Supporter

    Aug 2, 2001
    Greenbelt, MD
    Club:
    Washington Freedom
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I've seen players who looked great at the W-League level be completely unable to compete at the WPS level - the Freedom's Emily Janss is one example.
     
  13. DazzRef

    DazzRef Member

    Jul 13, 2009
    Buffalo NY
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I hear ya - it's very possible that the W-League Flash squad might not be able to play at a WPS level. But, I also account for the fact that the entire squad might not be back, and that there will be some additions to the roster via free agency, expansion draft and college draft.

    I think that at this point there are a lot of unknowns. My opinion from watching the squad the last 2 years is that under the current coaching staff, this team could play at a high level as a cohesive unit. Whether that translates to success in WPS is a different story. With that said, the talent base currently in the league will get a little more dispersed with an expansion draft and free agency. I don't expect the WNY team to be pushovers, but I also don't expect that they'll run the table either.

    Aaron
     
  14. littleboo3853

    littleboo3853 New Member

    Sep 26, 2010
    Elma NY
    Club:
    --other--
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    well i can't wait till next year!
     
  15. Michael Russ

    Michael Russ Member

    Jun 11, 2002
    Buffalo, NY
    As a soccer fan from Buffalo, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    I think I might be the "typical" fan this club might hope to attract, so I will give my feelings and you can take them for what they are worth.

    I have a daughter and two sons who all play soccer.

    I was aware the Flash team existed because I do spend a lot of time at SSP, but to be honest I spend very little time following women's soccer and did not attend a Flash game this year. In fact I was quite suprised to see that they were going to be playing on Fox in the championship game, and although I watched some of the game, I did not feel "invested" in whether or not the team won or lost.

    I will be honest and say that my "gut" feeling was that the team was just Joe Sahlen's toy. It really is not important if that is correct or not, because like I said it was just a "gut feeling", and I would hazard to guess if it is my feeling it is the feeling of a lot of "average" soccer fans in Buffalo. Then again Joe Sahlen has turned what originally was one indoor futsal field into a massive indoor complex with a full size indoor field that has been a huge asset for the development of soccer in Buffalo, so I have no problem with his "toy" turning into a major asset for Buffalo soccer.

    The question is, what would it take for me to become a "fan" of the Flash. To be honest the choice of where to play is not a good start. I live in the South Eastern Suburbs and ironically I am almost as close to the Marina Auto Stadium as I am to Niagara University, so either way I am looking at about an hour drive. There is no way I would commit myself to many games with that kind of a drive.

    To be honest it would be critical that there be a good "atmosphere" at the game if I was going to go, and I do not see that happening at Marina Auto Stadium. I have been to a few Rhino's games in the past few years, and there hasn't even been much of an atmoshpere there for their games, and I think the even had trouble selling tickets for the U.S. womens team game held there recently.

    I have never been to the stadium at Niagara, but I have to say that the possibility of getting caught it traffic on the Grand Island Bridges is something I would dread.

    I am not sure that the idea of a "regional" team will work for womens soccer. It is not the NFL where the Bills are so big that Rochester and even Toronto feels like it is "their" team. I think it is quite possible that this team could end up not being embraced by either Rochester or Buffalo.

    The idea of "joining" together Buffalo and Rochester soccer has been happening on the youth level with the Empire United Soccer Academy entry into the U.S. Developmental Academy with some limited success, but I think there is still a bit of an "inferiority complex" in Buffalo about Rochester. I am not sure people here will be so receptive of the idea of us having to "share" our team with them.
     
  16. DazzRef

    DazzRef Member

    Jul 13, 2009
    Buffalo NY
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    All valid points, Mike....I think that the strategy of regionalization is going to be a bit of a challenge for the WNY franchise. With that said, the one thing that the Rochester Rhinos don't do enough of is to market them west of the city. I think that most of the people in the Buffalo area outside of the soccer community know little about the Rhinos, which is unfortunate. Like you said, it's not "Buffalo's team", so there isn't the kind of buy-in from the Buffalo community that there would be if the team was the "WNY Rhinos". I think that it's a unique way of going about it - but if there are synergies there to sell the team to a much wider audience (and to get the word out across a wider customer base), then why not try it?

    In terms of getting "invested" in the Flash, I think that it was hard to when there was very little publicity about the team in the local media. The Buffalo media doesn't give much time to local sports that are not the Bills / Sabres or High School sports. (It's so bad that they don't even give the Buffalo Public Schools any individual publicity on their own leagues). So there is going to be a bit of a "learning curve" for the entire region, IMHO, about pro women's soccer. I think it starts there - then moves to how the game day experience is sold to the public. I would say that the fans who came out to the games over the past couple of years have seen good product on the field, and in general had a good time.

    Hopefully you'll see more in the future about the team. I agree that the location might not be the best for everyone in the region, but let's see how this plays out. Maybe this leads to something else (like a soccer specific stadium, maybe??? I can dream, can't I?... ;-) )

    Aaron
     
  17. Michael Russ

    Michael Russ Member

    Jun 11, 2002
    Buffalo, NY
    Actually I am involved with the Lancaster-Depew Soccer Club and the town of Lancater was looking at building a soccer complex on Genesee street across from the Fox valley country club on land that is now an abandoned mine.

    I would love to see a small version of a soccer specific stadium included as part of that plan.

    What would be awsome is if you could get the Empire United Youth Club and this team to work together, especially when the U.S. Acadamy adds teams on the girls side, but I don't see that happening in the short term.
     
  18. Informer12

    Informer12 New Member

    Apr 28, 2010
    Well people, all I can say is wether the familly is doing it for thier daughter or son-inlaw really makes no difference. To put up that kind of money, in a league that's future is suspect at best right now, is a great risk, and a brave thing to do for soccer development in the area. I say BRAVO to the familly and most should be saying thank you!!! If all goes well many will benifit even if it is just for a short period of time. I see no downside to anyone else but the familly and thier money.
     
  19. shlj

    shlj Member+

    Apr 16, 2007
    London
    Club:
    FC Nantes
    Nat'l Team:
    France
    Annie Heatherson has just signed a pro contract with Bristol Academy, so she won't come back. I think Gemma Davison could be tempted to leave Arsenal with the right offer as the England manager Hope(less) Powell does not rate her. Therefore she does not need to stay in England to try to win a place in the WC squad.
     
  20. Mimsy Borogoves

    Sep 6, 2009
    http://www.soccer365.com/us_news/story_181010170531.php

    The above article contains some comments from WNY owner Joe Sahlen about the potential roster decisions.

    Quote : All the Flash players are free agents and Sahlen said that, “We want to keep some continuity [with last year]. If they are WPS caliber, we will look at them.” He felt that realistically up to half of the team would have a shot at moving up.
     
  21. Bonnie Lass

    Bonnie Lass Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Oct 20, 2000
    Up top
    Club:
    Olympique Lyonnais
    Nat'l Team:
    Norway
    Does anyone know when they're going to do the official naming? Or did they hold the conference already?
     
  22. Nacional Tijuana

    Nacional Tijuana BigSoccer Supporter

    May 6, 2003
    San Diego, Calif.
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Just what I was about to ask. The unveiling was supposed to be today according to a tweet, but I've seen no evidence.
     
  23. StarCityFan

    StarCityFan BigSoccer Supporter

    Aug 2, 2001
    Greenbelt, MD
    Club:
    Washington Freedom
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Tweets from people listening into today's press conference are saying that the team name will be "Western New York Flash." Not terribly imaginative.
     
  24. FreeKicks

    FreeKicks New Member

    Sep 29, 2009
    Club:
    Chicago Red Stars
    god that's awful
     
  25. Crazy Old Lady

    Crazy Old Lady New Member

    May 22, 2003
    just outside Atlanta
    Club:
    Atlanta Beat
    Nat'l Team:
    England
    How about the BREW ( Buffalo/Rochester/UpstateNY )
     

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