The USL W-League’s Buffalo Flash is considering making a bid for a Women’s Professional Soccer expansion team as early as 2011, Flash General Manager Henrik Ambarchian said.
“We have discussed it internally but we have not contacted WPS,” Ambarchian said.
Ambarchian said the team plans to make contact with WPS in the next seven to 10 days. The Flash is currently in the middle of fighting for a W-League Championship and hosts the Central Conference Playoffs this weekend at Niagara University. Ambarchian said the club still needs to ensure making the jump to WPS is viable and also wants to evaluate the response it gets from fans for the playoff matches at Niagara this weekend.
Having yet to contact WPS, the team also faces another obstacle: Time. The process of starting an expansion team takes time, but Buffalo already has a team and ownership group in place with the Flash, which is currently the only professional club in the 29-team W-League. All other W-League teams are amateur teams, meaning players are not paid. That could allow Buffalo to step right into WPS, which is exactly what management plans to do if the decision is made to move forward with the plan.
“If we do this it would be instant,” Ambarchian said. How instant? “2011.”
Niagara University, located 30 miles Northwest of Buffalo, is an option for the team to call home. Niagara Field is on campus and soccer serves as the main tenant, but the seating capacity is limited to 1,200. The Demske Sports Complex at Canisius College is the Flash’s current home and also an option but that field also only seats 1,200 people.
All-High Stadium seems like the ideal facility to host WPS matches with a seating capacity of approximately 4,500, although Ambarchian noted parking issues at that site. All-High Stadium is currently where the National Premier Soccer League’s FC Buffalo plays its home matches.
The Buffalo Flash is owned by Joe Sahlen, who owns the multi-million dollar meat packing company, Sahlen Packing Company. He also owns Team Sahlen Racing and Sahlen Sports Park, which offers top-notch training facilities for the team.
As Ambarchian said, WPS has not heard from anyone in Buffalo, but league expansion standards remain the same.
“WPS is always welcome to talking to new investors in an city, provided they meet the three pillars of a strong fan base, potential venues and an interested investor group,” WPS spokesman Robert Penner said.
With a population of about 271,000 people, Buffalo actually would not be the smallest market in WPS. Sky Blue FC plays out of Piscataway, N.J., which is home to only 53,000 people but the general population of Central New Jersey is much larger than that.
This news comes just one week after reports surfaced that Dallas could enter WPS in 2012. Read more on that here: http://www.dallassoccernews.com/article.php?article_id=3747
The Demske Sports Complex:
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