Widener a better financial fit for Independence

Posted: December 24, 2010

The Independence are moving to a new home field at Widener University this season because of economics, team owner and CEO David Halstead said Thursday.

The Women's Professional Soccer team played its inaugural season at West Chester University. Halstead said it is more cost-effective to play at Widener.

West Chester's John A. Farrell Stadium has a capacity of 7,500. The Independence averaged 2,938 last season.

Widener's Leslie Quick Stadium seats 4,500. Halstead said the goal for the team is to average 4,000 fans.

Halstead often is asked why the team doesn't play at PPL Park in Chester, the home of Major League Soccer's Union.

PPL Park's capacity is 18,500, and it would be too big for the crowds the Independence draw - and also too costly at this point, Halstead said.

"We would have to grow [attendance-wise] to play at PPL Park," he said.

There will be six teams instead of seven in WPS this season, and each will play 18 regular-season games. The schedule has not been released, but the opening games are set for April 9-10.

The Independence went 10-10-4 in their inaugural season and won two playoff games before falling to Northern California's FC Gold Pride, 4-0, in the WPS championship game. FC Gold Pride ceased operations last month.

Led by all-star Amy Rodriguez, the Independence figure to be title contenders again this year.

The Independence reportedly are making a pitch to sign women's national team player Megan Rapinoe, who spent the last two seasons with the Chicago Red Stars. Chicago has suspended play for the 2011 season.

The five other WPS teams this season are the Atlanta Beat, Boston Breakers, Sky Blue FC (which plays home games at Rutgers), Washington Freedom, and the expansion Western New York Flash.


Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or mnarducci@phillynews.com.

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