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Rochester, Syracuse to be part of Buffalo WPS expansion bid

As first reported by The Equalizer last month, the USL W-League’s Buffalo Flash had internal discussions about entering Women’s Professional Soccer in 2011.

Buffalo won the W-League Championship July 31 with a 3-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps thanks to stars Kelly Parker, Gemma Davison and Veronica Boquete, who signed with the Chicago Red Stars Saturday.  Now, fresh off a W-League title, Buffalo, led by owner Joe Sahlen, is apparently still in the running for a 2011 WPS expansion team.  There is one interesting twist, though: The team may not necessarily be in Buffalo according to Philadelphia Independence Owner/CEO and WPS Expansion Committee Co-Chairman.

“WPS is excited about ongoing discussions with expansion franchises for 2011,” Halstead said.  “For instance, the Rochester-Buffalo-Syracuse markets are strong candidates for 2011 WPS entry…..discussions are progressing.  Rochester-Buffalo-Syracuse WPS talks being led by Joe Sahlen and plan to capitalize on success of Buffalo Flash.  Both sides are very optimistic but have a fair amount of diligence to do before any agreements are finalized.”

Syracuse seems like a true stretch.  It is the smallest of the three markets and offers no truly suitable stadium to field the team.  Alliance Bank Stadium is home to the Syracuse Chiefs AAA baseball team and housed the USL A-League’s Syracuse Salty Dogs in 2003 and 2004.

Buffalo has some decent stadium options, including All-High Stadium, but Rochester adds a new twist.  Rochester is a city known to support soccer as the Rochester Rhinos have been historically very well supported (although attendance has gone down four-straight seasons and is on pace to continue that streak).  The Rhinos play at the soccer-specific Marina Auto Stadium, which holds just over 13,000 fans.

With August always being considered the absolute cut-off for announcing an expansion team for 2011, time is quickly running out on WPS adding a new team in 2011.  The Buffalo Flash already having a professional set-up in place and fresh off a championship may help speed up the process, but it seems unlikely for any expansion franchise to get off the ground with just six months of build-up.


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