WPS Commish Reacts to LA Sol’s Demise

If you haven’t heard today’s news, click here.

And yes, the sun has indeed set on the Sol despite a press release from the Women’s Premier Soccer League that just arrived in my inbox that insists:

“Yet, it still may not be too late to save the franchise. If another investor group jumped into the fray within the next week, scheduling for the Sol for the upcoming season could be easily worked out in time.”

No, it can’t, said Women’s Professional Soccer Commissioner Tonya Antonucci who spoke this afternoon to 100 Percent Soccer:

“We had a buyer for the L.A. Sol which regrettably fell through in the 11th hour. Not only did (the sale) fall through, it’s right up against the steps we need to take to get on with business for 2010.”

She said that Anschutz Entertainment Group had pledged to get the franchise started, but had never intended to stay for the long-term.

Antonucci said this is not the first step in the eventual folding of the league, as some observers believe:

“Regrettably, it hurts to lose a major media market in our early growth stage. But we don’t believe, nor do we believe fans believe, this is a statement on the viability of Women’s Professional Soccer. … Ticket sales have surpassed where they were last year (elsewhere), sponsorship sales are beyond where they were last year. It’s not as if expectations are out of the ordinary. We’re surviving, we see an uptick. This is a setback we’re going to get past.

“We have eight strong, committed ownership groups in eight markets. If anything they’ve gotten more united in the course of this process.”

On whether the WPS hopes to return to Southern California:

“We’ll keep the brand. … This now becomes an (expansion) priority for us. We think it’s a very viable market.”

Antonucci said a WPS team could return to L.A. as soon as 2011.

Antonucci said players such as Marta, Torrance’s Shannon Boxx and Aya Miyama have guaranteed contracts and will be picked up by other teams:

“What’s actually going to happen is that the other eight teams are going to get stronger.”

It’s unclear whether Sol sponsor Amway will remain a partner in WPS, although because the company also has a personal endorsement deal with Marta, Antonucci said she believes the company may wait to see which club picks up Marta’s playing rights.

Sol GM Charlie Naimo did not return a phone call seeking comment.

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  • Joseph D’Hippolito

    (Antonucci) said that Anschutz Entertainment Group had pledged to get the franchise started, but had never intended to stay for the long-term.

    Gee, why am I not surprised?

    You know, if AEG “never intended to stay for the long term,” then why the Hell didn’t those geniuses (read: Lie-weakly) try to get another owner in place during the previous season so these last-minute negotiations wouldn’t be necessary?

    Then again, Lie-weakly’s I.Q. decreases proportionally every time he uses the bathroom.

    Thank you, AEG, for once again screwing the sports-loving populace of Los Angeles…all so that Onkel Phil can become the conservative version of George “Sore-ass” Soros.

    Note to Studs Up: Yes, I blame AEG for everything. I blame AEG for the Haiti earthquake, Islamic terrorism, my mother’s death from cancer in October, the Catholic sex-abuse crisis….

  • Joseph d’Hippolito

    Note to Commissioner Antonucci: If you want an expansion team in Metro L.A., forget Carson. Put it in
    Fullerton. The stadium is smaller and the rent likely is smaller.

    Note to Galaxy fans:

    AEG. Arrogance. Evil. Greed.

  • Studs Up

    Another smart move by AEG. Cut your losses on a well-intended but ulimately a bad idea and move on.

    Women soccer does not offer anyhthing worth the support of the “spot-loving populace” of Los Angeles J’Dip. This is not sexist, just a soccer reality. Same as the fact that USMNT cannot draw in LA. Sad but true.

  • Joseph D’Hippolito

    Studs Up, when and where did I ever say that AEG was sexist regarding WPS? If they were sexist, they never would have invested in the Sol; even I know that. No, what infuriates me is that they don’t give a rip about anything except themselves. They had the resources to do more to help WPS find a buyer. Despite Antonucci’s business credentials, she can’t be expected, as the commissioner of a league founded during a distressed business climate, to take on the problem all by herself. Neither could the league office without help. I’m accusing AEG of not caring enough to get that help and, possibly, even make some profit on the transaction.

    Instead, they just pull up stakes when the going gets too hot for them.

    There’s a difference between making money and being cut-throat.

    Ask not what AEG can do for you. Ask what you can do for AEG.

  • Studs Up

    I’m saying don’t call me sexist, not the AEG, for putting down the WPS. I, me Studs Up, does not think WPS is a quality sport worth major league status in this town. I could not stomach watching one game in person or on TV. Terrible quality.

    Fullerton or some other smaller markets may be able to sustain it on a local level. Come to think of it, the W-League is just fine.

    I leave you alone to fight your own private demon in AEG. Wew.

  • Joseph D’Hippolito

    Studs Up, I have never — nor would I ever — call you sexist. Again, where did you see that in anything I’ve written on this thread? Sexism isn’t the issue here. The quality of women’s soccer, compared to the men’s game, isn’t the issue here. The issue, in my opinion, is AEG’s apparent unwillingness to put out for others when those same others have put out for them (such as securing Marta, without whom the Sol would have been totally ignored). It’s a matter of common decency and gratitude, not sexism or mandatory support for professional women’s soccer. I see neither of the first two qualities in AEG’s dealings with this issue.

  • http://www.theassociationblog.com Craig

    I have no problem with what AEG did. Let’s be honest, they’re in the business to make money and they jumped ship as soon as they saw the mounting losses with the Sol. AEG is not responsible to take on a charity case like that, especially in a VERY bad economy.

  • Joseph D’Hippolito

    Apparently, AEG payed most of the Sol’s bills according to this story:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/los-angeles/news/story?id=4870963

    I still wonder how much AEG could have done to interest potential buyers before relinquishing its share.

  • Joseph D’Hippolito

    On another front…how much Amway will Marta have to sell to get out of her contract? :D

  • http://www.hotmail.com anonym

    What is Pumas stand on this whole LA earthquake?
    Believe in womens soccer. Go search for abroad, foreign investors.
    It takes pioneering anywhere to build up something
    really big.
    Long live womens soccer!