How would you run WUSA 2?

Discussion in 'NWSL' started by AvidSinger, Sep 18, 2003.

  1. AvidSinger

    AvidSinger New Member

    Sep 6, 2002
    You have just been assined to start WUSA 2 that will kick off in the spring of 2005 or 2006. You are in charge of all the details.

    What is your plan? How many teams will there be? How will they be organized? What will the schedule be like? How do you attract fans and sponsors?
  2. da_cfo

    da_cfo New Member

    Apr 19, 2003
    San Francisco CA
    Based on "Real Options" analysis, I recommend an indefinite delay for the launch.

    2005 or 2006 will NOT be the right time for such a venture.

    2011, 2012, or 2013 would be more realistic.

    Also, the new business venture must make a clean break from the failed WUSA leadership.

    That means no Foudy and no Brandi in any way, shape, or form. Not on the field, not on the coaching staffs, not in the front office, and not part of the players association leadership.
  3. Im not sure exactally how....but it'd definately be an east coast league with not much of a foreign limit (americans want to see the best players on the planet, right?) I couldnt tell you the cap on salaries but hopefully it would draw around 5,000-7,500 a game with no dependacies on a national TV contract for survival.
  4. denver_mugwamp

    denver_mugwamp New Member

    Feb 9, 2003
    Denver, Colorado
    It's not a lost cause...

    ...but when the league resumes, it's not going to resemble the last incarnation very much. The WUSA tried to imitate the MLS, but didn't have the finanical muscle to pull it off. The new women's league will be a lot more like the A league or even D3. You can run a league with 5,000 to 7,500 attendance but it's going to be more of a semi-pro, 2nd job sort of arrangement. I think the WUSA's concept was that a top woman player needed an equivalent salary to a top MLS player. I don't doubt that the Mia Hamm's of the world deserve a decent salary, but it's just not going to happen right now.
  5. Spartacus

    Spartacus Member

    May 20, 2001
    The NO SOCCER Zone
    1) Somewhere between 8-12 teams split evenly between coasts into 2 divisions. Play an unbalanced schedule (within your division more often than the other division) to minimize travel costs.

    2) Sponsor subsidies for marquee players. The league will never sell without stars...but star salaries cannot break the budget. Promotional agreements with sponsors will help (a) bridge the gap between the maximum salary and the star players' deserved compensation and (b) help promote the league through its stars.

    3) Build the business model based on what worked in WUSA. Use the WUSA experience as "market research". Knowing your costs in the planning stages will aid the success of the relaunch.

    4) Tie the relaunch to the coat-tails of the "next big thing"...whether that's a gold medal in Athens (not likely) or a world championship in 2007 (more likely). Use the buzz to fuel the launch.
  6. FearM9

    FearM9 New Member

    Jul 14, 2000
    On my bike
    It pains me to agree with you on this. No more TV time buys...just too expensive.

    Focus those resources that they would have spent on cultivating the local fan base.

    Wait...I say have a very sparse TV presence...playoffs + final with a smidgen of "marquee" games being aired somewhere. Oxygen maybe?

    Would anyone mind if I moved the Freedom to either Anapolis or Germantown?
  7. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Chicago Fire
    Re: Re: How would you run WUSA 2?

    Of course. It was all their fault.

    If only they'd used their power for good insteat of evil.
  8. Spartacus

    Spartacus Member

    May 20, 2001
    The NO SOCCER Zone
    But TV must be part of the equation...if you're not on TV, you don't exist in the sports "real world". However, to depend on TV revenue to balance the budget is folly, agreed.
  9. MichaelR

    MichaelR New Member

    Jun 12, 2003
    I think that you rebuild from structures already in place: the WPSL, W-League, A-League and MLS all have a number of well-run clubs and control of soccer-appropriate venues.

    Growing the league by associating with a network of successful clubs is a strategy that I think can get a Division I league back in the US by 2006.

    In other words, find partners (including, but not just, Uncle Phil) in a mix of large and mid-sized markets -- people in Charleston, Columbus, Portland and Rochester, for instance, seem to know what they're doing and they all have right-sized venues.

    You would want to continue women's soccer in places where there was good support for WUSA -- Washington most prominently. But the important thing is to rebuild with small steps, consolidate gains and grow prudently when the economy is healthier.

    A few rules of the road (I apologize for repeating some material from an earlier post on a different thread):

    1) Avoid being a tenant, or at least only establish teams where favorable leases can be secured on right-sized facilities. Getting SAS to own and operate a Carolina franchise would be an ideal situation. Convince Uncle Lamar own/operate a Columbus or KC franchise; get Uncle Phil to buy an LA team to get more dates at the HDC. The Rhinos' people should be approached. You get the idea.

    2) Don't count on significant TV revenue. Use prudent local TV buys as a means to recruit fans. Link up with MLS Shootout to achieve national distribution of local broadcasts. Only time-buy national slots with credible networks (ESPN2, FSW) in order to get national exposure for the season opener, playoffs and championship.

    3) Fans in the seats (and at the merchandise stands) and sponsors will be the main targets for revenue generation. As for sponsors, the shoe companies' money must be brought in to the league (when Nike can spend $90 million to secure one promising basketball star, all of the WUSA's debt doesn't look so mountainous). Expand marketing beyond pre-teen players and their parents. Traditional sports fans know how to buy game tickets.

    4) Set costs (player salaries) in line with conservative revenue estimates. If that means that some of the very top players go to Scandinavia or Germany to play, just accept that fact. US colleges are turning out dozens of very well-trained players every year.

    5) Scrap the idea of equity shares for any group of players. That has been tried and failed miserably twice (ABL, now WUSA). Even Microsoft isn't doing stock options. Solid, solvent owner/operators will hold accountable professional business managers.

    6) Be optimistic and confident in the product. The product on the field is very appealing. The WUSA was a competitive league with exciting stars (the Founders' generation and the up-and-coming kids who will surpass them -- Wambach, Boxx et al.)

    7) Don't stand aloof from the rest of US Soccer. Play in the US Open Cup, for a start.

    As for cities to play in, I would go with the best 8 to 10 proposals from owners and existing clubs that I could recruit. I have some preferences for cities (see above for places where women's soccer might work), but I really think that the merits of, say, New York v. KC for a team come down not to the cachet or "necessity" of any league to have a New York franchise, but to the committment of solid ownership, and due diligence: whether good marketing studies have been done and whether there is a plan to gain profitability within a defined time period.
  10. Jo

    Jo New Member

    Jan 15, 2000
    If you don't have TV, you lose me. How many fans see the league only on TV? I did support it as best I could: I made it to one game and I also bought 2 shirts and 2 hats from the Spirit store.
  11. da_cfo

    da_cfo New Member

    Apr 19, 2003
    San Francisco CA
    Re: Re: How would you run WUSA 2?

    If there is no TV, then there is no need for another league.

    There are already two women's soccer leagues in the US, the semi-pro WPSL and the amateur W-League.

    Note however that a women's pro soccer league has proven that it can't get ratings that are too much higher than a test pattern (WUSA can get up to an 0.4 on a big cable network, but an 0.4 won't get you big sponsorship dollars).

    That means sponsorship dollars, if any, will be tiny. Forget about anything over $1 million.

    I don't know if there is any viable business model for a women's pro league that can break even with a mix of gate receipts and TV-driven sponsorship money.
  12. FearM9

    FearM9 New Member

    Jul 14, 2000
    On my bike
    Re: Re: Re: How would you run WUSA 2?

    Isn't it the other way around...the W-League is the semi-pro while the west coast based WPSL is the semi-pro?


    I gotta sympathesize with folks like Jo. I too am an out of state WUSA freak and can only make it to Spartan and other venues only a couple of times a season. I get my WUSA fix with my DirecTV. If a new league was to pop up with very minimal TV coverage...I would do the best as I could to follow the games and league happenings via the net and from first hand reports from BigSoccer and from various friends I have in league cities but it just wont' be the same watching it with my two very bad eyes.

    But if having minimal TV coverage as opposed to national TV coverage helps out the league in the long run...then so be it.
  13. Keep87

    Keep87 New Member

    Apr 24, 2003
    North Carolina
    Let Maxim run the league... :)
  14. charcroson

    charcroson New Member

    Nov 22, 2000
    I'd find a billionaire with a lot of patience and an open checkbook.
  15. nsa

    nsa Member+

    New England Revolution
    United States
    Feb 22, 1999
    Notboston, MA
    New England Revolution
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Sounds like you're looking for a husband. :)
  16. stanleyt

    stanleyt Member

    Dec 7, 1998
    Harlem, USA
    I think Dick Cheney's got too much on his mind right now and for the forseeable future.

    Seriously, Michael R's got great ideas. His strategic time buy for selected matches are important. Have that to establish and maintan your "national footprint" and rely on the regional cable networks to cary local teams. Say what you want about the NY Power, but they were on every week on either FSNY, MSG or Metro.

    The new league must market, not only the founders but the next wave as well as the foreign players who have breakthrough seasons. If you keep talking about the Founders, it makes it seem like there's no one else worth watching. WUSA had the highest level of play and had the most ethnically diverse cadre of top players of most leagues in North America. You need to highlight all of those women.

    If you can't offer profit or equity sharing then have the league offer performance bonuses or supplement housing expenses for the low earners. The new league may also have to rely on acquiring players who are in close proximity to teams.

    Can't really think of anything else right now.
  17. Spartacus

    Spartacus Member

    May 20, 2001
    The NO SOCCER Zone
    Western Division
    Salt Lake City
    San Jose
    Southern California

    Eastern Division
  18. charcroson

    charcroson New Member

    Nov 22, 2000
    Significant other. I thought we'd covered my sexual orientation? ;)
  19. AvidSinger

    AvidSinger New Member

    Sep 6, 2002
    Why would you want to cover it? Shouldn't you be proud of who you are? ;)
  20. diablodelsol

    diablodelsol Member+

    Jan 10, 2001
    New Jersey
    Re: It's not a lost cause...

    This assumes that you can get 5000-7500 people to come out and watch women on the advertising budget and exposure of an A-league team. I really doubt that is going to happen.
  21. Isisbud

    Isisbud New Member

    Mar 10, 2003
    I don't start the league.

    It's simply a quality issue--it is known from various scrimmages that the US women's NT can play even with an average select u-15 boys team. Since the league is watered down from the NT talent, the WUSA general play is even worse that u-15 boys, perhaps u-14 or u-13 boys.

    The WUSA would never succeed for the same reason you can;t get 10's of thousands of people to watch u-15 boys play--there exists a place where they play superior soccer--the EPL, I mean MLS.

    People that want to watch good soccer will not watch youth or women very often.
  22. Keep87

    Keep87 New Member

    Apr 24, 2003
    North Carolina
    Re: Re: It's not a lost cause...

    Exactly, if WUSA goes to minor league there's in no way in hell they will draw 5,000-7,000 a game. More like 500-700 at best.
  23. Elninho

    Elninho Member+

    Sacramento Republic FC
    United States
    Oct 30, 2000
    Sacramento, CA
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    While I don't think #7 was financially significant, it is worth noting that the WUSA seemed to be avoiding any association with the rest of US Soccer. There is in fact a Women's Open Cup - but no WUSA team ever played in it. To some extent, playing in the US Open Cup has increased MLS's national footprint by bringing MLS teams to non-MLS cities, so it's worthwhile even though MLS loses more money on the Open Cup than on regular-season matches. Even if the WUSA loses money up front on the Women's Open Cup, playing in it is probably a very worthwhile marketing tool.

    I'd like to add:

    8) Market as women's soccer, not women's soccer.

    9) Have a set budgetary plan for at least the first five years. It took five years for MLS attendance to turn the corner; in Japan, the J-League also hit bottom in its 5th season. This strongly suggests that a startup league should plan for at least that long.
  24. Poachin_Goalz

    Poachin_Goalz Member

    Jun 17, 2002
    Athens, GA.
    1. REVISE PAY STRUCTURE - Set salaries for everyone of $30,000 for 15 first team players on each team. An additional $25,000 for 3 reserve players per team. This results in a total salary of $525,000 per team. If current star players don't like this, send them packing. The players can suppliment their pay with offseason jobs ,etc. In addition, each team coughs up $25,000 / yr into a central pool for end of season Bonus $$$ awards as follows.....
    1. $5000
    2. $4000
    3. $3000
    4. $2000
    5. $1000
    Total = $15,000
    Do the same for assists, defender and goalkeeper for a total of $60,000. You then take the rest of the bonus $$$ from the central pool and give to the players on the Championship team to split up evenly. If a team makes the playoffs, the players are rewarded by splitting up any of the gate receipt profits from the semifinal or final.
    Make the above applicable to all teams so that every investor can do their best to predict a breakeven figure.

    2. DUMP SEM - Make each team accountable for itself so that individual owners aren't hit by a massive amount of red ink unrelated to their own team keeping struggling franchises afloat.

    3. LOOK FOR OWNERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES WITH EXISTING SOCCER INVESTORS. - The three biggies are Uncle Phil, Kraft and Cox. Another tenant may be appealing at the HD Center and Crew Stadium. Protential double header revenue on a consistant basis resulting from co-ownership with MLS may work in Boston, Washington, NY and Dallas. Cox may have wanted to maintain the Atlanta franchise as evident by the fact that its wasn't for sale and Cox is based in Atlanta.


    5. DON'T DRAFT ANYONE INTO THE NEW LEAGUE WHO IS OVER 30. - It might be tough to stomach intially but the league has to break away from the older USWNT players and develop fan loyalty to the league teams and the players that "grew up" with the teams. Atlanta was on its way to accomplishing that. I can't speak for all of the Beat fans, but my favorite players on the team were mainly the new faces brought into WUSA over the last three years that we were priviledged to watch grow as players.


    Considering what has happened, the only way the league may work is co-ownership by the entities that run MLS for a majority of the teams in a WMLS. Sprinkle in a few other individually owned team (like Cox owned Atlanta) and you may be able to muster the financial clout to support a 6 team league. I realize this is all based on "Show me the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$" but I guess this thread is all about wishful thinking. I don't know about the logic of killing the league and picking up again in say 2006 or 2007. That would mean completely starting from scratch. If it were my decision, I would want to by the name rights, etc. for the league on the cheap when it is desolved this fall/spring and try to take advantage of any name recognition that you can get. It would be more expensive to start from scratch than from scraps. You would also potentially lose a core group of players that have grown up in WUSA. (Wambach, Boxx, Bivens, Augustyniak, Mitts, Etc.....)
  25. Spartacus

    Spartacus Member

    May 20, 2001
    The NO SOCCER Zone
    Sounds like opinion over fact.

    WUSA didn't fail over quality of play issues, it failed over poor business issues. If, on second attempt, a league fails on quality of play issues, then fine, you can make those glittering generalities. But until the product is proven to be non-marketable we still owe it the benefit of the doubt.

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