Had board meetings this week for both Women's Professional Soccer and Chicago WPS.
Both went very well and were full of optimism as we begin the one year countdown until the team and League's launch.
The support of Chicago's ownership including the board which is made up of owners Gary Weaver, Jim Willett, Arnim Whisler and me, is matched only by the enthusiasm of the people we talk to in the Chicago soccer community. Everyone seems to want to offer their assistance to assure the team's success. This reaction is different than 11 years ago when the Fire started. At that time, the soccer community was skeptical and even resistant to MLS.
Chicago WPS General Manager Marcia McDermott and i were able to report to the board that we had identified outstanding candidates for the five department head positions. If we can bring all five aboard, i believe we will have a staff that rivals the Fire's 1998 leadership and that has me feeling very good about our potential for success in Chicago.
The League Board of Governors meetings in San Francisco also generated excitement and optimism for all the owners in attendance. In addition to the progress of the seven previously committed teams and Soccer United Marketing (SUM), the expansion committee i serve on also reported good news about both short term and long term expansion possibilities. While we are cognizant of the need to embrace slow growth and vet ownership groups carefully, it is apparent that this league will have the opportunity to expand to traditional sized soccer Leagues (18-20 teams) much more rapidly than MLS did. The reasoned business model is directly responsible for the considerable attention WPS is receiving from investors in the U.S. and Canada.
Tonya Antonucci's leadership along with Joe Cummings, Aaron Burch and Karyn Lush in the WPS office gives us confidence in the League. The next key hires, including Marketing and PR, will be very important to maintain the quality of the League's personnel and maintain the WPS Board of Governor's current level of optimism.