Monday, May 18, 2009

WPS: Revenue At Any Cost

The most recent incarnation of women's professional soccer, WPS, here in the states is trying desperately to improve upon the failed attempt of WUSA a few years back. That league folded after three years and burned through $40M of seed money intended to last five years in its first year. The league is taking a more cautious approach and actively seeking sponsorships to bring in revenue that doesn't appear to be coming from ticket sales (see pic above). WPS inked its third "founding sponsorship" this past week with health supplement company AdvoCare International.

Only one slight problem. One of AdvoCare's former endorsers, US swimmer Jessica Hardy, tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. During Hardy's legal battle, she had an Advocare drink tested and those tests indicated the product was contaminated with clenbuterol, the same substance found in her positive drug tests.

A three person arbitration panel agreed she had met her burden of proof indicating a contaminated supplement and reduced Hardy's suspension. The legal battle continues, however, as AdvoCare seeks to clear its name.

How wise is it to associate the league with a company, while not well known, at least connected a PED controversy. Is any publicity really good publicity? Perhaps.

The cliche is that any money is good money for the league.

AEG, which owns LA Galaxy, LA Kings, and the WPS franchise LA Sol, has indicated it will only be taking on WPS losses for this inaugural season for the sake of the women's game and then getting out of Dodge. Said Tim Leiweke, AEG second in command:

"We've made it clear that our job is to get it started, and then we're going to let others step in here and continue this. But we felt we owed it to the women's game to give them a shot."

"We were never intent on being here forever. Our plate is full."

Taking any money it can get its hands on doesn't seem like such a bad strategy given those words. I hope the league can find more shady investors. Maybe we can get some gambling entity on the shirts.

That concludes our semi-regular WPS updates.


WhiteSpeedReceiver said...

So, which of you has the postmortem for this league written and in the can saved as a draft?

Lingering Bursitis said...

It might be there somewhere

Precious Roy said...

WPS Post Counter: 3

There's probably a decent story waiting to be done on the first iteration of the league (was it the WUSA?). Apparently it was heavy with marketing people who didn't have a good grasp of womens sports or reality for that matter.

They thought that because the Women's World Cup final at the Rose Bowl drew 90,000 people, they'd draw similar numbers for regular season women's pro games.

Think they are a bit smarter about being more community-centric this time around, and I think attendance numbers were pretty strong for the openers ('strong' being relative to what women's sports draw). More interested in seeing what the numbers are in the mid-season (whenever that is).

EbullientFatalist said...

It will all end in tears . . . PED saturated tears.