As originally reported July 22, the USL W-League’s Buffalo Flash are interested in moving up to Women’s Professional Soccer and talks are getting much more serious.
Wednesday, the Buffalo Flash ownership group, led by Joe Sahlen, attended the Sky Blue FC-Washington Freedom game at Yurcak Field. Sunday, the group will be in West Chester, Penn. to meet with Atlanta Beat Owner/CEO T. Fitz Johnson and Philadelphia Independence Owner/CEO David Halstead, who are both co-chairmen of the WPS Expansion Committee. Monday, Buffalo officials will tour Philadelphia’s facilities.
Sahlen acknowledged that time is running out on a 2011 WPS entry and said Wednesday that a deal would have to be worked out by the end of the month at the latest in order to ensure a proper transition into WPS.
He also spoke of taking a regional approach, playing most games in the Buffalo-Niagara region with some games possibly being played in Rochester at Marina Auto Stadium, the home of the Rochester Rhinos. Sahlen also said the name of the team could reflect that regional approach and would not necessarily be confined to Buffalo. It would be the only team in New York in WPS.
Keep posted to The Equalizer for updates in the coming weeks.
|9 Comments… read them below or post one|
|Interesting. If Buffalo gets the green light, we will have to see what direction the franchise goes in. I personally feel like Harvard is the exception and I would rather see smaller venues get sold out than good crowds get lost in bigger venues, but I imagine the newer facility could be very appealing. With the regional idea, they won’t play every game there either. Rochester seems like a big target.|
|Yes – UB’s football stadium would be the one I’m talking about. But, even though it’s huge, I’d put it on par with Harvard Stadium where the Breakers and the Cannons (MLL) play. It would be a perfect place to play. With that said, I’d still love to see Walter Kunz Stadium (the “old” UB football stadium) get converted into a Soccer Specific stadium. But, for right now, UB’s new stadium would be the best place to play….because it’s the best place available that is capable of handling the pro game.|
|Aaron, thanks for the insight. I like the size of the Walter Kunz Stadium and All-High, but there are obvious issues. If only Niagara’s soccer-specific stadium had more seating. Are you talking about UB’s new football stadium though? That is huge.|
|Jeff – I’ve been a life-long Buffalonian, and I do have some links to the Buffalo Flash, so I’m very interested in this whole process. Walter Kunz Stadium (which is the “old” UB stadium) would be a perfect setting for a soccer-specific stadium IMHO. They would need to do some renovation work to pull out the existing track and add in new seating, but after driving past there this weekend, this could really be done without a lot of effort. It wouldn’t take more effort to add seats to All High Stadium, but I believe that the stadium is owned by the Buffalo School System. If that’s the case, they can’t use it (state law – can’t play professional sports on public school grounds). The best place to do would be UB’s new stadium – it would already be at the necessary seating numbers needed to support the team, and has a playable field setup already. The only fly in the ointment would be UB’s willingness to let the team use the facilities. IMHO, that is the biggest barrier to getting the team off the ground next year. Joe Sahlen and his management team should have all their ducks in a row to pull this off quickly, provided WPS gives them the chance to do so.|
|Aaron, you sound well in-tune with the Buffalo market. From pictures, Walter Kunz Stadium at UB looks really narrow, though 4,000 is a perfect size for seating. Pitch-wise, Niagara seems to be the place, but the seating is not there. Random – I got the sense that there was an idea it could be “New York’s team,” but I am not sure what that would mean. Something like ‘Western NY’ could be fair game, but for now it’s all speculative.|
|hmm if they go the regional way what would they name themselves? The upstates, Northern NY, or something more regionally tied, Niagra? Finger lakes would be cool, but they are too north for that affiliation.|
|Buffalo doesn’t know that they have a soccer champion, but that’s because the local media doesn’t cover non-prime professional sports very well. A move to WPS will get them the attention that they need. Additionally, there’s an untapped, unserved market in Southeast Ontario that could be used to bolster attendance numbers, if the proper attention is given to that area. If you’re looking at marketing the team from a regional perspective, you’re looking at a range that could expand from Hamilton ON to Rochester NY (primary), and from Toronto ON to Syracuse NY (secondary). And, we’re not even including NW PA in that mix as well. I don’t think it’s a matter of IF Buffalo gets into WPS, it’s a matter of WHEN it happens. The biggest barrier for the Flash, outside of local marketing, will be a home to play in. I still believe that they’ll need to be at the University of Buffalo Stadium for this to really work out well for everyone.|
|All are good questions. At first, I didn’t think it was anything too serious and I wasn’t sold on Buffalo. However, having met the ownership/management group I am much more convinced about how serious they are. The one plus is that there are no major league teams that play in the summer. The only local competition is the AAA baseball team. I think it would be a good test of the theory that WPS might be better served to have teams be big fishes in little ponds. No idea how attendance would be, honestly.|
|do you think Buffalo is actually a good idea? would 4K come out to the games? does Buffalo even know they have a soccer champion?|
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