Women's soccer team could share space in Chester

Posted: May 28, 2008

Philadelphia soccer enthusiasts eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new Major League Soccer franchise in Chester may receive a bonus. Plans are in motion to bring a women's team to the area.

Women's Professional Soccer, a league slated to begin play in the spring of 2009, announced yesterday its plans to tack on Philadelphia as an expansion franchise for 2010.

"Since signing on the dotted line with our initial seven investors, we've had our sights set on adding an eighth team to the league," said WPS commissioner Tonya Antonucci. "In Philadelphia, we have the perfect foundation for success, combining a strong operating group with the city's recent acquisition of an MLS team to create a prime market for women's soccer."

Matthew Driver, CEO of Team Dynamic LLC, will serve as managing partner of the Philly WPS team and has already been in discussion with MLS Philly CEO Nick Sakiewicz to share the proposed 20,000 seat soccer-specific stadium in Chester.

"We've been in discussions with them, which have gone exceptionally well," said Sakiewicz. "As of now, it appears as if we will be coming to an agreement to have them play at the stadium in Chester."

This isn't the first foray into the area for women's soccer. The Women's United Soccer Association came to town in April 2001. With the Charge as its Philadelphia representative, the WUSA lasted 3 years before it suspended operations, despite an abundance of high-profile players. Antonucci claimed the WPS has learned from WUSA's mistakes.

"Something the WPS did spend a lot of time on was learning from the mistakes made in the WUSA," Antonucci told the Daily News. "We have a system in which we can cleverly and widely cut the costs of our investors and spend more time focusing on marketing and fan development."

Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New Jersey/New York, St. Louis and Washington, D.C., are the seven cities that will field teams when the league kicks off next April. The WPS is searching for an additional team for 2009, with the California Bay Area, San Diego, Cary, N.C., and Atlanta as possibilities.

"WPS is poised to be the premier women's soccer league in the world and I'm honored to be a part of the movement," said Driver. "Even more so, I'm proud to give local fans access to the highest caliber of women's soccer and help put Philadelphia on the map when it comes to professional soccer." *

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