Carolina RailHawks prez on NWSL: ‘We are interested’

Tim Nash July 15, 2016 142
WakeMed Soccer Park, home of the Carolina Railhawks. (Photo: Rob Kinnan-Carolina RailHawks)

WakeMed Soccer Park, home of the Carolina Railhawks. (Photo: Rob Kinnan-Carolina RailHawks)

The Carolina RailHawks, a North American Soccer League franchise located in Cary, N.C., just outside of Raleigh, is exploring the possibility of putting a team in the NWSL.

“We are interested,” said RailHawks President Curt Johnson. “Our owner, Steve Malik and I met with (NWSL Commissioner) Jeff Plush in Chicago in June, and we have had further conversations. There is interest from both sides, and the process is on-going. We are just doing our due diligence and getting the lay of the land, understanding budgets, the relationship with U.S. Soccer and the long-term vision.

“The process is evolving,” said Johnson. “If, and it’s a big if right now, we were going to play in 2017, I think a decision would have to be made in the next 60 days.I think we have the facilities, the support and there are a lot of top players in the area.”

[MORE EXPANSION: City Football Group could bring NWSL team to New York]

Malik, who purchased the RailHawks in October 2015, spent three decades in the health information technology field. Under his leadership, MedFusion went from a medical website development company to the leading provider of enhanced healthcare communication solutions. He is also the principle in a venture capital firm investing in software and environmentally friendly technology opportunities, primarily in the Southeast United States.

“Steve (Malik) has set goals of bringing the highest level of soccer to the area,” said Johnson who added the club is also exploring a place in Major League Soccer and called those discussions on-going.

The RailHawks play in WakeMed Soccer Park, the stadium formerly known as SAS, which was the home of the Carolina Courage of the old WUSA. The stadium, which has undergone renovations to bring the capacity to just over 10,000, has also been the frequent host of the NCAA Men’s and Women’s College Cup, as well as Atlantic Coast Conference tournaments, international friendlies, and US Soccer training camps.

(Photo: Rob Kinnan-Carolina RailHawks)

(Photo: Rob Kinnan-Carolina RailHawks)

“There are development plans for the area in Cary around WakeMed Park that include the stadium,” Johnson said, referring to the possibility of adding more seats, more luxury boxes and other amenities. “There is also interest in developing a new stadium in an urban area.”

[MORE: Garber thinks half of MLS teams will soon operate women’s teams]

The RailHawks sold out an exhibition game Tuesday night against West Ham United as part of the English Premier League team’s brief U.S. tour.

“We were hoping Jeff could come to our game against West Ham on Tuesday, but he couldn’t make it,” said Johnson.

Cary is conveniently located between North Carolina State (11 miles), Duke University (27 miles) and the University of North Carolina (31 miles), as well as Research Triangle Park, home to over 200 industries, including IBM, Cisco and Glaxo Wellcome. Additionally, there are over 12,000 registered youth soccer players playing within 40 miles of Cary.

  • Mary

    Makes nothing but sense. When people ask what kind of markets might replicate Portland’s success I immediately thing of places that have supported great women’s college teams.

    • CED

      The league is already east coast, the logical choice and the one NWSL has pointed to in past comments is the next expansion to be west coast teams. The league claims to want to eventually go to east/west divisions. They also need to put team closer to the geographically isolated Seattle and Portland to cut travel costs for them. The closest team to them is KC. Adding more and more east coast teams will make the league eats coast league with just Seattle and Portland as isolated appendages.

      The logical choice for next expansion is 2 west coast teams..Real Salt Lake top of the list, then Colorado or the other MLS team shown interest such as Dallas. Also, there are several CA based groups that have shown interest. Not having a team in CA soon would be weird, probably 2 CA teams makes sense in the near future. The next 4 teams probably should be west coast if the deal can be made. It would geographically balance the league. Future expansions should be in groups of 2 so there isn’t an odd team not playing 1 week Bring in NC eventually with Atlanta, who has been wanting a team for some time.

      • Mary

        Those are fine points as well. What I like about what I see here is that it sounds like they have the proper facilities. I also would like to see the viability of expansion teams w/out MLS support. I agree that it would be great to get west coast expansion.

      • It is kind of hard to have a geographical balance in the US when 80% of the nation lives in the Eastern and Central time zones. Look at the NBA, New Orleans and Memphis are both in the Western Conference. The NFL has basically six Eastern divisions and only two West divisions. Nashville is in the Western Conference in the NHL. MLS is the only American league with all is western teams actually west of the Mississippi. So it would not be that different than other leagues to go to six team conference after the next expansion with one new west coast team, be it Salt Lake or a Cali team and another new one in Carolina, then the other west teams can be Seattle, Portland, Houston, KC, and Chicago (the Blackhawks are in the West in the NHL).

        It may be wisest to take a page out of Baseball and go three division of four for a more geographical balance but even that could be hard with current teams. The best I could come up with would be Boston, Flash, Chicago, and Sky Blue would the East. Seattle, Portland, KC and a new team could be in the West. Orlando, Houston, Washington and a potential Carolina team could be in the South.

        • Terry Lash

          You have a good idea. I hope NWSL leadership pays attention. While putting 4 new teams in the west sounds great, that goal should not prevent a new team to be created in NC, if there is a good plan by the owners. NWSL is small and needs to be bigger–that should be the top priority regardless of the near term impact on geographic balance.

          • CED

            Easy to say geography doesn’t matter unless your Portland/Seattle where the next closest team is 1800 miles away(KC).

            Also, the best prospect for expansion is RSL, they were in talks to be the 10th team and not Orlando.

          • Salt Lake and Vancouver would be great for Western expansion. This NC potential expansion team sounds ideal, though.

          • CED

            Except it isn’t..it would be the 2nd smallest metro in NWSL, NT games in that region had mediocre attendance

        • TsovLoj

          I think that’s a great conference plan.

        • CED

          NFL, NBA, etc…have weird structure b/c they had 24+ teams and needed to find an artificial structure for balance when they added teams that didn’t fit into the existing 2 divisions in each conference structure NWSL is a new league. The simple fact is divisions in soccer is an silly construct. A league should be run with home/away with every team, that’s it. Have even number of teams so not an odd team off each week. The NWSL already has the weird construct of playing 1 team 4 times which really imbalances things IMO. Playing Portland 4 times is a lot different than playing Boston 4 times..

          • Craigaroo

            re schedule imbalance, going to 12 teams automatically solves the problem. Play each team twice, 22 game season.

          • CED

            Yes, that will liekly happen with 12, but NWSL’s own comments show they eventually want to go to divisions. That will likely occur once they hit 14. Once they hit 16, than divisions will be 100%, they won’t want a 30 game schedule with playoffs.

          • David K Anderson

            Agreed…and I don’t like it. I can’t stand imbalanced schedules (they render the Supporter’s Shield meaningless). But I’m a curmudgeon who doesn’t like playoffs, either. =P

      • kernel_thai

        Always thought Cary would be a good spot should the league eventually have to relocate Sky Blue. It would solve the facility problem and free up the NY or Philly market for an expansion team

        • CED

          If Sky Blue relocate which would occur by selling the team NYCFC would be the buyers. They already want a team and will eventually have a new stadium for their MLS team. The ownership group also has invested in WoSO clubs all over the world with success and have massively deep pockets.

      • GT

        East Coast / Smeast Coast, West Coast / Smest Coast. Where ever a franchise can be successful, that’s were it should be. We can always set up divisions and/or adjust the number of games played with other teams to reduce traveling costs.

        • CED

          So your logic is create an even more imbalance like they have now. B/c playing Portland 4 time is like playing Boston 4 times when you determine who makes the playoffs.

          Btw, the only way to reduce travel costs for Seattle and Portland is to make the closest team not 1800miles away. All the other 8 teams are within 1800 miles of each other, while that’s their shortest trip.

          • TsovLoj

            Portland’s the one team that can afford to take a hit on the travel budget.

          • mockmook

            Right, but adding another Eastern team doesn’t increase Portland’s and Seattle’s travel costs — it’s just the status quo.

          • Guesting

            The key is what does Paulsen want. Would he be willing to add a Eastern MLS team, as long as there is not two Western MLS locations available. I doubt you would see Portland, Houston, or Orlando throwing their support for any independent group at this time.

          • CED

            Portland and Seattle having to make 9 trips of 1800 miles up to 3K miles instead of 8 doesn’t add cost. LOL.

          • mockmook

            Didn’t know you were in charge of making the schedule. That must be nice.

            BTW, how many trips east did they make in 2013 and 2014?

          • CED

            Sorry you don’t seem to understand how scheduled work..hint..you have to play every team home and away. They would be making an additional trip and to NC it would be almost 2900 miles.

          • mockmook

            With 9 NWSL clubs, Portland and Seattle played 24 regular season games in 2014 (12 Away games each).

            Please explain how they will travel more with 12 NWSL teams.

          • Craigaroo

            I have to agree with GT – wherever a new team is most likely to be successful. Salt Lake City is high on everyone’s list, not because it’s in the West but because it seems most likely to be successful and will have great infrastructure.

      • Tikitaka

        While I see we’re you’re coming from and it would make sense to try to balance out teams so hopefully we can have eastern and western conferences sooner than later, the markets have to make sense. I think Colorado would be risky only because the Rapids have low attendance on the men’s side and I feel like that would trickle down to the women’s side this early in the NWSLs span. To Mary’s point, you have to think about markets that would be successful based off of past support for soccer, women’s soccer in particular. Given UNC’s involvement in women’s soccer, I’m surprised it’s taken this long for wheels to start moving down in NC.

        • CED

          College support doesn’t translate. Look up the attendance of games in NC for WNT, College support in almost every sport does not translate to pros. Areas are often college areas or pro areas.

          • USMNTfan4life

            I agree. College support generally skews to the colleges and universities itself, with fans supporing mens and women’s teams that represent their favorite schools. I don’t see small-market university support translating to WoSo or other sports on a large scale.

    • STT

      You’re seriously comparing Cary to Portland? If you think Pilots support is driving (or is even a significant part of) the Thorns’ popularity, I think you need to reevaluate. Not to mention Portland is way bigger than Cary. I may be a Portland antagonist, but I can see and respect what they’re doing right – and Cary ain’t got it.

      • Guest

        To be fair, they’re located in Cary, but that team would be pulling in the entire Raleigh metro area, which would actually be comparable to Portland. The soccer culture isn’t the same though, Railhawks NASL support is nothing like Timbers USL support, and that’s what translated into a big chunk of Thorns support.

        • CED

          Portland metro is way bigger than Raleigh. People seem to think Portland is some tiny city, it’s urban pop is 632K(rank 26th) and metro is about 2.4M(ranked 23rd). Raleigh Metro is about 1.38M

        • Craigaroo

          How far a drive from most of the Raleigh area to Cary, if I may ask? (I’ve generally found it useful to compare teams – and potential teams – by MSA, or Metropolitan Statistical Area, rather than the CSA, or Combined Statistical Area. Raleigh is not in the same MSA as Cary but it is part of the same CSA)

      • Mary

        I’m just saying that UP support always struck me as an indicator that Portland had the capacity to support women’s soccer. People act like it’s a big mystery, but anyone who went to a sold out UP game knew that Portland had a lot of fans if women’s soccer hungry for more. Is Cary the same? I don’t know. But it seems worth exploring and I don’t get the dismissive attitude I’m hearing.

        • Guest

          It’s not, but there was support for the Courage and women’s soccer has only gained popularity since then. I’ve been to UNC games and I’ve been to UP games, and for all that UNC is in terms of dynasty, their support isn’t even a fraction of UP’s. Central NC also has some of the biggest youth soccer programs in the country, but I don’t think that’s a great way to market NWSL. They could do well, but the Railhawks are only pulling in 4k for NASL matches right now, they need to build that up a bit first in my opinion.

          • JL

            Support for the Courage? They were one of the lowest drawing teams in WUSA.

          • guest

            and still pulled in almost 6k per game, which is better than most NWSL teams are now. There’s obviously differences in the budgets between the 2 leagues, but the sport has only gained popularity so it’s not a completely off base comparison if Malik markets they well.

          • STT

            Context, context, context. Look at any team that spanned different leagues – a team that drew 6k in WUSA would’ve drawn 4k in WPS and 2k in NWSL.

          • GT

            Why is the interest declining? The MLS is finally here to stay, the girls won the World Cup last year, the talent pool is stronger, and we don’t have a Magic Jack poisoning the league.

          • STT

            I think there are two reasons that legacy teams have tended to lose attendance from one league to the next. First, the budgets have gotten slashed from one league to the next, and that hits advertising hard. Second, the teams have to overcome the stigma of previously failed enterprise.

          • USMNTfan4life

            WoSo popularity is based primarily on WNT success in international tournaments. I replied to another comment, in that I was dumbstruck by all of this expansion talk, or owners “wanting into WoSo,” because I don’t generally see alot of interest in terms of televion deals (FS1 covers the playoffs for NWSL and some season-ending games), no corporate sponsorship interest, etc. So, it boggles my mind why anyone would want to invest at this time. Unless it is primarily for PR and similar purposes (See Man City owners, etc).

          • USMNTfan4life

            I don’t know if WoSo has gained in popularity as much as the WNT has, and that depends on their success in World Cups and Olympics tournaments. The NWSL budgets are tiny and are in large part helped by the USSF, which picks up the salaries of WNT players. If the federation stopped doing that, there would be no NWSL, because the Natty players would go to Europe.

        • STT

          My point is that there isn’t a question – Cary is NOT the same. Aside from the independent Atlanta bid and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds bid, this Railhawks bid is easily the lowest on the totem pole of any group that’s publicly been linked to a potential NWSL team. The league would be silly to go to NC unless literally none of the dozen or so other options they have actually work out.

          • Craigaroo

            Well, I think the college factor helps in this case, but a bigger worry is the population of the Metropolitan Statistical Area is about 500,000, half of Rochester’s and a quarter of Portland, Orlando, and KC’s.

      • Craigaroo

        Absolutely the Pilots was a big part behind the Thorns’ success. Only thing is, there’s no one else in college which is like the Pilots. BYU comes closest. The area and schools around Cary, NC are probably next (along with Texas A&M – but it ain’t going to happen there)

        • STT

          They were a part, but not a big part. Much more influential were the Timbers bleedover and the simple fact that Portland is a soccer town.

          • Craigaroo

            There are other MLS teams with good attendance which don’t show the support for women’s soccer Portland does. I absolutely see no reason to think it’s a coincidence between U of P’s women’s soccer program and the Thorns’ success. Look at how Christine Sinclair is a goddess there.

          • Guesting

            One of the reason’s she is favorite is she went to the University of Portland.

          • Craigaroo

            re Sinclair – that’s my point.

          • Guesting

            The University of Portland was crucial in helping to develop the strong soccer culture in the Portland area. Winning two National Championships for such a small school was a vital part of it.

        • Guesting

          It wouldn’t happen where Texas A&M is anyway. The College Station area is a hour and a half drive from Houston.

      • GT

        Let’s be honest, there are no other Portlands out there. I think we would all be happy with 1/2 of Portland (i.e 8,000 per game). If this option doesn’t meet that threshold, I’m with you, dump it. I think 8,000 per game is a sustainable plus growth number. Players salaries could be increased, more favorable TV contracts could be obtained and all the positives that go with that.

      • GT

        I just saw Bruce’s stats on the men’s team. Cary is OUT! Disregard all of my comments on this subject.

        • mockmook

          Don’t give up so easily.

          I don’t think it is beyond reason to think that a top WoSo league team might equal or exceed the attendance of a second tier BroSo league team (or at least come close to the BroSo attendance).

          • USMNTfan4life

            Not happening outside of Portland. Orland Pride, the NWSL entry for Orland City (MLS), can barely draw 4-5,000 fans for their games. The team features Alex Morgan, and now Ali Krieger, and I don’t see their numbers moving up. I would bet that the Pride lose attendance each successive year.

    • GT

      As the commenters before me have indicated their are some pro’s and their are some cons. That ‘s what “due diligence is about. It must be done thoroughly. I certainly think a strong women’s college soccer culture and support is a plus. A men’s team is a plus. A population large enough to support a women’s team is a plus. If there are better markets, “bring them on”. In the interim we can only hope that this is a good one. Keep in mind that Houston has been a bit disappointing so far and the jury is still out on Orlando, but on balance I’m glad that those two teams have been added.

    • Tikitaka

      Excellent point!

  • Guest

    I’d wait another year under the new management. The Railhawks weren’t treated well under previous ownership and are basically rebuilding the brand, most of central NC doesn’t even know they exist, that doesn’t bode well for a women’s program at the moment. The potential is there though.

    • Guesting

      It may take a lot longer then a year and will depend on what kind of a demand there is from MLS clubs. Sacramento Republic at one time expressed they also were interested in an NWSL team, which is also an area of potential, and would be a stronger candidate especially when they secure an MLS franchise they are working hard to get. They already have a preliminary approval from the city council to build a 19,000 plus stadium with the ability to expand as much as 25,000..

      • Guest

        They have a better shot of getting an NWSL club than MLS. MLS won’t go to NC in the next decade or so, they’ve got Sac Republic, St. Louis and San Antonio that will come in after Atlanta and Minnesota, and who knows when Miami will actually start playing. When Malik first bought the team he mentioned interest in bringing in another team or sport, woso was mentioned, but it seemed like he was going to focus on Rugby or lacrosse.

        • CED

          MLS teams also cost 120million, that number keeps going up each expansion. NWSL team is a tiny fraction of the cost.

          • USMNTfan4life

            NWSL is no cost. Those teams have no real value yet.

  • It’s enhanced

    “…enhanced healthcare communication solutions…” Wow!

  • Movement

    4 expansion franchises in the next season are a possibility.
    It’s not a probability, but it’s a possibility, if it’s the ideal 4.
    I think we will see 14 by 2018 though.

    • CED

      The 4 should all be west coast to balance the league. Portland and Seattle are completely isolated, closest team to them is KC. RSL top of the list, then Colorado, and 2 CA based teams would be logical. If can’t get that look at Dallas who has shown interest. Eventually bring in NC and maybe Atlanta(wanting a team for years). That would eventually be 16 teams and geographically balanced to make 8 team east/west divisions. Design a schedule where you play all division teams twice(home/away) and the cross division teams once(alternate years home/away. That’s a 23 game schedule.. I don’t think they would want to go to full round robin of 30 games.

      • john

        What reason is there to believe anything has changed in regards to how California would (not) support woso? I understand geographic balance helps with a “national” image and the travel cost aspect as well. However, repeating the same pattern of failure doesn’t sound very wise. I think NWSL needs to think about giving new potential markets a better shot. Another factor in the smaller markets favor is less competition for media attention. Most American sports leagues actually developed in smaller communities and then outgrew them. I see no good reason to ignore that.

        Another concern for me is that as long as the league, owners, and coaches are okay with accommodating the wishes of players to play in the locale of their choosing greater disparity will develop. We already have the situation where the NT players are getting concentrated onto a handful of teams, which affects marketing and product quality across the board.

        I wonder about the comment about the three school programs in the area. The history of pro woso in the US indicates that signing the local kid doesn’t help attendance in any significant way. Additionally, one could make a strong case that college woso and pro woso fans are largely independent groups. It makes me wonder how well versed these prospective owners are.

        • CED

          The standard is much different than the previous leagues . Ie…280K salary cap. If WNY with their horrendous attendance is around than the previous CA teams would be fine as they did way better than that.

          Few NWSL cities are in “small markets”. Portland which every one raves about is a city of about 630K and metro population of about 2.4M, Orlando metro is about 2.3M. In fact only 1 NWSL team is not in a top 30 metro market in the country, that is Rochester which is 51st.

          • Craigaroo

            Durham-Chapel Hill metropolitan statistical area (MSA) has a population of about 500,000 – half that of Rochester. As part of the CSA (Combined Statistical Area) with Raleigh, this jumps to 2.2 million. But how many would make trek from Raleigh for NWSL games? If the MSA, rather than CSA, is the more relevant measure, then Cary may be in too small a population area

          • I think it’s realistic to expect LAFC get a women’s team in probably 2018 and then San Jose or Sacramento get a women’s team as well, those could be the two California teams.

          • CED

            The thing is all the CA supposed interest has been the least defined SJ, LAG, LAFC, Sacramento while other cities have been open about it around the country. The league surely wants to be in CA but the adamant interest by groups may not be there as of now.

      • Steglitz49

        I would put at least 2 if not all south of or near to the Mason-Dixon Line.

    • STT

      The league would be idiots to expand 4 teams next season (or 4 at once at any time, honestly). Especially since it’s already more than halfway through this season and we haven’t seen and real signs of any group actually moving forward with expansion yet.

      • kernel_thai

        Where would they get the players…unless ur telling me the cap is gone and that isnt happening all that does is dilute the talent.

        • STT

          …that was kinda EXACTLY my point, that the league would be idiots to expand like that. They’re definitely not expanding the cap any time soon, as anyone who’s been following closely would know.

          • CED

            Maybe the cap would expand if they had a players union, league CBA like all other pro leagues have. League salary caps are based on % of revenue in other leagues…ie..NHL players get 50% of hockey related revenue….278K is surely not 50% of revenue.

          • mockmook

            Maybe, but the NWSL owners are likely losing money — they can’t “afford” a union.

          • CED

            Then players need to pipe down about conditions if they don’t want to to have a union. There is a reason every legit pro sports league has a union otherwise your concerns are ignored.

          • USMNTfan4life

            I heard that Portland Thorns take some of their excess money earned from home games and distribute it to teams in the NWSL. The league cannot survive if one team is the sole breadwinner for the other teams. Even Orlando, which started out well with attendance, is now regressing back to the low averages of other teams with poor finances.

            I don’t know how the LAFC women’s team will turn out, but I guess expansion is what the NWSL wants. Too much expansion, and too quickly, will dilute talent, and force the league to suffer.

          • AGuest2

            The independent owners are on shaky grounds as it is, so putting additional financial pressure on them would be risky.

        • CED

          They will bring in foreign players if needed. The pay around the world is not great unless you on the Mega clubs ….Lyon, PSG, etc..

          Also, the league could set up an exemption rule like MLS for 1 or 2 players not counted against the cap. Some owners would splurge to bring in international superstars. Splurging for WoSo is not the 10M like MLS, it would be like 100k or 150K.

          Also, they could change the rules so teams like Portland can’t stock pile 5 WNT players. They would have had 6 if the maneuver they did to get that pick they thought they could use on Pugh had gone as they planned, but she didn’t skip college

          • Steglitz49

            Clubs don’t pay more than they need to but the pockets of the rich men’s teams in in Europe are deep. Even at 1%, they can spend an awful lot more than even Portland can.

      • CED

        There have been groups ready. RSL is one, they wanted to be the 10th team instead of Orlando. Next expansion will be 2 at a time IMO. However, I think it will be 2 west teams.

        • STT

          RSL isn’t ready. Yes, they WANTED to be the 10th team in, but their plans were thrown for a loop when their first (and second) plans for a second stadium to house their NWSL and USL teams went bust. They finally got plans to build new training facilities, but that’s not for a potential NWSL team. So that’s part of the reason Orlando beat them out. Also, RSL just joined UWS and don’t sound like they’re going to leave it any time soon.

          • Craigaroo

            Their second plan for a second stadium went bust? Damn. I didn’t hear that. I was looking forward to RSL joining the league. As for a 12th team to join at same time, I don’t especially care if it’s west coast or east coast, just that it stands good chance of being successful (and by successful, attendance and fanbase-wise, I mean at least equal to Washington Spirit and/or Seattle Reign)

          • CED

            The new stadium wasn’t really needed and thus why it failed. The current stadium is less than 10 years old, soccer specific, seats about 20k and is grass. No reason NWSL couldn’t play there just reducing capacity to 10K, using 1 side of the stands. Btw, Orlando stadium situation was not great when they got a team, they are playing at the citrus bowl(not soccer specific and turf) waiting for completion of the stadium.

          • STT

            I agree it wasn’t needed – heck, the USL team started playing in RioT as a stop-gap before they would’ve gotten a stadium – but that’s just want the RSL organization wanted before they invested in NWSL. Their tune might be changing seeing how well Orlando is doing, but if so, they haven’t really publicly reinserted themselves in the expansion picture.

          • CED

            NWSL would be silly IMO not to have RSL in the next expansion for a multitude of reasons. Also, linking up with MS teams solves many problems, especially the one they keep getting negative coverage on which is facilities. MLS clubs are building/have top of the line facilities .

          • STT

            Agree again – but NWSL can’t force RSL to invest in a team if RSL isn’t in any rush, which they don’t seem to be at the moment.

          • CED

            Actually I think NWSL is the one pumping holding off, RSL wanted a team last year. RSL clearly has the money and will to invest in their non MLS endeavors with an academy, U teams, USL pro, women’s team at lower level, etc…

          • STT

            That….. no, there’s no logical reason for NWSL to have ever pumped the brakes on RSL. As I said before, it was *RSL’s desire* to have a new stadium for their NWSL/USL teams, they’ve been saying that since day 1, and that fell through. That’s it. RSL never fully submitted an application to the league, nothing *actually* happened last year – NWSL certainly has never said “no”. On top of that, the current RSL women’s coach has outright said he wants to keep the team in UWS for a while before moving up to NWSL. NWSL is NOT the reason RSL hasn’t happened yet.

          • Lorehead

            The guy you’re talking to is a nutcase who doesn’t respect WoSo or understand its economics. (And will probably copypasta the same rant when he reads this.) You’re correct that the NWSL saying no to RSL would have made no sense, and that what happened was that RSL’s new stadium didn’t come through on schedule.

            The Dash and the Pride are looking like viable concerns, but the NASL and USL Pro have pretty similar attendance to the NWSL and play in stadiums that are probably a better size.

            As I’ve said before, RSL was an example of how the new MLS rule that every team needed a reserve team in USL Pro would end up benefiting the NWSL: a lot of MLS teams would end up owning a stadium the right size for the NWSL anyway, and then putting a WoSo team in that stadium too is a much better proposition than trying to start an independent one. That’s why RSL was so interested, and why that interest depended on their having the mid-size stadium.

          • Craigaroo

            re our pal who says so much negative stuff about WoSo – I generally agree but he’s actually had some reasonably well-informed comments about the Olympics roster and about expansion which aren’t too negative. Surprising, I know.

          • Lorehead

            Yeah, it would be nice if he did more of that. Sometimes people who start out hating something end up learning enough about it that they develop a real appreciation for it.

  • newsouth

    that’s a 10,000 seat stadium. what’s the current attendance? who would be paired with in 2017? the galaxy need to step up and fund a women’s team.

    • Guest

      They’re not going to give Galaxy and expansion when Mia has already said LAFC is going to have a women’s team. They’re not going to tell Mia that she can’t have a franchise.

      • Guesting

        They are not going to give the Galaxy a team after the way they handled the LA Sol’s sudden demise.

        • JL

          AEG, which owns the Galaxy, also used to own a controlling interest in the Dynamo. They were initially reluctant to take on a women’s team and basically had to be convinced by Canetti to do so.

          • USMNTfan4life

            How is that turning out? Even with World Player of the Year, Carli Lloyd, the Dash attendance hovers around 4,000 a game. I think that number will decrease once Carli decides to move to Europe. Most WNT players will move to Europe, because they can get paid more if they play on the women’s sides of EPL teams.

            That is the only way WoSo will improve, if the men’s teams of MLS make a large profit. As it is now, the MLS teams do not have the money to support women’s teams. Patience would be the best way to go, but the NWLS doesn’t seem to have financial foresight to see that. They should stay with the teams they have now, and see how it goes until the next WWC.

    • CED

      Real Salt Lake is the front runner for next expansion. Most of the expansion interest acknowledged was from MLS west teams…RSL, Colorado, Dallas, LAFC, LAG, etc.. East interest was from Atlanta(wanted a team for some time), Indianapolis and Pittsburgh in 2018 or beyond. NYCFC also has been public about interest, but have stadium issues to sort for MLS club.

      • TsovLoj

        I think the stadium reformatting may have pushed RSL back in the queue a bit.

        • CED

          RSL is building a new massive training complex..50million cost that is suppose to better than Houston’s, KC’s, etc… Last I read they may have their USL pro team play there and run all their academy and U teams from it. NWSL could easily fit in that mix.

          • Steglitz49

            But, how little time would the ladies get and probably the worst time-slots to boot.

      • Guesting

        Let us not forget to add the other MLS club from California, The San Jose Earthquakes

        • TsovLoj

          I think they’re probably the most likely at the moment. Sacramento and LAFC are eventual possibilities, and I wouldn’t count the Xolos out, but SJ seems like the only ones with real concrete ideas at this point.

          • Guesting

            Living in Southern California, and familiar with the issues of transportation and how far away the fan base is they would need to draw from, would someone explain how a stadium located where the old sports arena, near downtown LA, would be able to draw enough to make it profitable. I just don’t see it any time soon.

  • Another Guest

    Is no one going to point out that this is the same league that has ridiculously low minimum standards as it is? They need to focus on treating their players like professionals before expanding again.

    • TsovLoj

      It’s not the new teams that seem to have that problem for the most part. It’s the old standbys.

      • Guesting

        Yeah that has been a concern of mine as well. For teams, like Boston, Sky Blue, Chicago and WNY, recycled hold overs from the WPS, they are just not showing me anything. As the NWSL adds more MLS clubs, it is going to get increasingly harder for them to be able to keep up. Based on the recent NWSL figures for attendance, they are the bottom four teams.

        • Lord Autumn-Bottom

          Chicago moving into Toyota Park didn’t do anything for you?

          • Lorehead

            They played there before in their WPS days, and they lost money doing it then. Their average attendance of less than 3,000 can’t be enough to make a profit playing there, but there doesn’t seem to be a more suitable venue in Chicagoland.

          • Deseret News

            They should leave Chicago and come to Salt Lake.

          • Guesting

            I doubt the league would allow any team to move into a MLS area where there is future potential for adding an expansion team.

          • Lord Autumn-Bottom

            True. I was just thinking it was an impressive move in itself, but yeah, it doesn’t seem to have had a significant enough effect on attendance to make it seem viable long term. Maybe Deseret News is right and the best solution is to move the team to a city more interested in soccer and women’s sports.

          • Lorehead

            Strange that the third-largest city in America doesn’t have a nice, mid-sized soccer stadium. But it doesn’t, and that’s the situation the NWSL has to deal with.

          • Chicago?

          • Lorehead

            Yes. That’s why the Red Stars went from Benedictine to Toyota, with nothing in between. The most serious suggestion I’ve heard was to play in a baseball field, but—

          • Tikitaka

            I think they should leave Chicago and got to St Louis. It’s not that far, plus STL has been dying for a pro soccer team. I really do think all of the older teams (other than the Spirit) need to rebrand, especially Sky Blue and WNY

          • Guesting

            Oh, I commend them for it, and thought it was the right move, but clearly so far that has not been the case. Attendance has not improved. I would doubt even with the deal they stroke up in order to play there, can even cover their overhead for the lower rent. Their situation may go much deeper then just having a MLS venue to play in. Maybe this is the opportunity to find virgin territory where they are not inundated with so many professional teams, and area not even with a MLS team, or one seeking an MLS team Maybe they could make a place like Carolina work for them..

          • Lorehead

            Attendance has improved if you don’t count the doubleheader with the men’s team, but not if you do.

          • Guesting

            I never count the doubleheaders

  • kernel_thai

    Certainly have the perfect size facility for NWSL and r in a soccer hot bed.

    • STT

      “hot bed” – have you seen the USWNT attendances from the last few visits to the triangle?

      • JL

        Didn’t they sell out their last game at WAKE-MED in an hour?

      • USMNTfan4life

        Why, are their numbers declining? Probably because USSF and Gulati tend to beat a dead horse one too many times.

  • FawcettFan14

    North Carolina as a state, obviously, has a strong history in women’s soccer with Duke and UNC. The Carolina Courage were fairly well supported in WUSA as I recall.
    WakeMed is a fantastic facility with natural grass surface. 10,000 capacity is about ideal for a non-MLS market team. The USWNT played Switzerland there in 2014 and it was a raucous atmosphere (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsp167OU4xYI). I think a pro team could do well here. One downside, it would further skew the NWSL balance eastward.

    • TsovLoj

      That just means shorter travel times. The more games we can have without flying two dozen players across the country, the cheaper the league can operate.

      • Guesting

        Who is the most powerful owner in the NWSL right now? Who is basically the architect behind any expansion that has taken place so far, and will be a central figure in the next round of expansion. Where do you see him focusing his attention as to where expansion should take place? MLS? West? East? If you know the answers to those questions, you will have a clearer picture of what to expect.You want to get an idea where the league is headed with expansion? Just try looking at it through his eyes.

        • Lorehead

          The Man City ownership group is a thousand times richer than Merritt Paulson and will get anything they want.

          • Guesting

            I am sure if they put up a lot of money for a team, that would do the trick, but assuming they don’t, it still rests with Merritt Paulson.

    • Steglitz49

      South of the Mason-Dixon Line must be good.

  • Bruce

    Placing a franchise in another suburban stadium that can barely draw for the only men’s team in town would be a terrible idea – but Jeff Plush and the powers that be never cease to amaze.

    Comparing NASL and NWSL attendance for this season tells it all, I think,

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/47c7461f27df5e4ebe1081a71544a0e506058083f8eff4e9ab539a4645872f7c.png

    • CED

      This is NC saying they are interested, if you look thru the past years the interest list has been long and few have come to reality as of yet., such as Atlanta. Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, etc…RSL met with NWSL last year, they made statements about wanting to be the 10th team. It appeared they thought they had a good chance, Orlando got the spot. The next expansion teams should be RSL

      • AGuest2

        Yeah the league likes to PR the idea there is so much interest for a NWSL expansion team, with no intent of considering them. The game plan is pretty clear they want MLS clubs only, clearly being orchestrated and lead by Portland, Houston, and Orlando.

        • Guesting

          What I find rather disconcerting is how very quiet it is on the MLS side as far as expansion. Doesn’t seem like anyone is that serious about getting a team, especially out West. Just thought there would be a lot more going on in the press, or someone close to one of the organization that would know something. Thought we would be hearing something by now, at least from one team.

          • Craigaroo

            Not much reason for a club to say a lot until it really happens, I should think.

          • USMNTfan4life

            LAFC is interested, but that is primarily to appease “owner” Mia Hamm. MLS teams don’t want NWSL teams because they will earn them more money, but that they look good for PR purposes. MLS barely earns money, so what is the reason people think NWSL teams will bring in $$?

      • Steglitz49

        Real SLC must drop the R if they have a ladies section, seeing that Real Madrid do not have a ladies side, no self-respecting woman can play for a Real SLC can they?

    • JL

      There are teams in USL that double or even triple the attendance of Carolina that would make better locations, but don’t have the interest at the moment of adding a women’s team.

    • GT

      Very compelling. Disregard all of my previous comments. They’re out.

  • Lord Autumn-Bottom

    It’s a nice idea to have an NWSL franchise near UNC. I’m a little uncomfortable with expansions happening that involve groups that don’t have the money to keep up with the MLS affiliates and other, more well-off clubs when and if the league starts to really jack up its standards re: compensation and broadcast standards. Of course, I know nothing about this organization’s finances, but I wouldn’t think they’re MLS rich. And other commentators’ points around here about the market being small are definitely a concern.

  • John

    During the WUSA days, the Carolina Courage were getting 5,000 on average at what is now WakeMed. Surprised it’s taken this long for a new Womens team to play in Cary again.

    • Steglitz49

      The Chief Ideologist of the NWSL seems to have an aversion to teams south of or near the Mason-Dixon Line.

  • Patrick Pos

    Having been to Cary for soccer games recently, I honestly do NOT think they are ready for a team just yet. Like some have said they need to build up the Railhawks attendance a little more before trying to expand.

    One other person brought it up while trying to compare an NCAA teams attendance, and I don’t think you can gauge by that how attendance would be. From SBFC games I have been to and college games, College=College students watching, NWSL= families. If you went by college, when is the news conference for the team in Provo.

    Which leads me to my next thought, I think right now the league needs to focus on raising the attendance of teams already out there. What good does adding one team if two drop out. Teams MUST be attracting at least 3,500-4,000 a game to progress and keep building.