Seattle is one of eight cities selected by U.S. Soccer to have an expansion franchise in a new women’s professional league that will begin play in the spring of 2013. Other cities are Portland, Boston, Washington D.C., Western New York, New Jersey, Kansas City and Chicago.
The Seattle team in the unnamed league will be operated by a group led by Bill Predmore, the president of Seattle-based digital marketing agency POP, which has commercial behemoths such as Nike and Target among its clientele.
U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati announced the league’s formation in a teleconference Wednesday morning. It has no affiliation with Major League Soccer or the Sounders, whose Sounders Women team announced recently they will remain in the USL W-League and continue to play at Starfire Sports Stadium.
“We are trying to find an economical model that is sustainable,” Gulati said. “If we see the federations as the government, we are subsidizing the private sector here to try to make this sustainable and the investments by the private sector smaller.
U.S. Soccer will administer the league and fund the participation of two dozen of the league’s players from the U.S. National Team, which would include presumably Hope Solo, who played with the Sounders Women. About a dozen players will be funded by the Mexican soccer federation, and a similar number by the Canadian federation.
Plans for the new league became known in August during the Summer Olympics, and Predmore said at the time he wasn’t clear on how the two teams would compete.
“It’s hard to say,” Predmore said. “I’m hopeful that the town is big enough for two teams.”
The league will be a third try for the women’s pro game. Women’s Professional Soccer started in 2009 and folded in January. The Women’s United Soccer Association was founded in 2000 and folded in 2003. Both suffered from poor attendance.
Plans include a 22-game regular season beginning in March or April of three games against the other seven teams, plus one extra versus Portland. Eleven cities submitted bids and eight were selected.