Women's Pro Soccer League Folds Another Team

Categories: Business, Sports
rsz_wps_angie-kerr_st-louis-athletica.jpg
Sadly, Angie Kerr and the St. Louis Athletica are now all dressed up with nowhere to go
When pro sports leagues begin folding teams, it's the equivalent of lifeboat survivors starting to feast on one another's non-essential body parts. The San Francisco-based Women's Pro Soccer league lost an arm earlier this year when the Los Angeles Sol abruptly folded. Now they're down a leg with the equally abrupt implosion of the St. Louis Athletica.

Apparently St. Louis Soccer United, the team's ownership group, is experiencing a "cash-flow problem." The league became aware of this two weeks ago, and, today, announced the immediate dissolution of the Athletica. A minor league men's soccer team controlled by the same ownership group did not fold, incidentally.

The timing of this maneuver is telling. The FIFA World Cup is less than a month away; surely interest in soccer would be buoyed by the world's greatest sporting spectacle. To decommission a soccer team at this moment points toward real financial desperation.

Back in 2008, SF Weekly sat down in league commissioner Tonya Antonucci's office and talked over her business plan. Unlike the spectacular failure of the WUSA -- which blew through $100 million in three years -- Antonucci's approach for fielding a women's league was as conservative as her taste in office decor. Many players would earn salaries befitting census-takers. Crowds of only a couple thousand were estimated into revenue predictions. The league's "path to profitability" was a long one: 10 years.

Well, we'll see about that.

Two dead teams and one persistent financial crisis later, what we wrote in '08 seems even more true, sadly: "The graveyard of American sports is well stocked with failed soccer leagues. ... Bad economic times have always been the death knell of second-tier sports leagues; those living on low ground are the first to drown in a flood."

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