Over the next couple of days (and in no particular order), we will present the top American soccer business stories of the year. Late next week we will conduct a vote to see which of the entrants you think is the winner.
The End of WPS
The three year old league announced that it was suspending operations for 2012, and ultimately, the doors remained shuttered. Over the years, we had expressed cautious optimism about the league both on this site and elsewhere. The three year old leaguedefinitely had some ups and downs but its closure came as something of a shock. We had documented the league’s struggles at the gate, but things reached a bizarre stage when the former Washington Freedom franchise was sold to a Florida based investor who refused to name the team and the league defending champions closed up shop in consecutive seasons. That investor, Dan Borislaw is blamed by the league for its ultimate demise.
Despite those strange circumstances, the league continued to pick up new sponsors and open stadiums. Last year WPS announced that Sahlen’s Hot Dogs was the league’s 6th official sponsor and a new franchise and SSS opened in Buffalo for the 2011 campaign.
The 19th MLS franchise started play in 2012 with the Montreal Impact kicking off. The team settled into its refurbished digs at Stade Saputo and despite some mid-season struggles, the team ultimately drew well at the gate. With a BMO shirt sponsorship and an apparent willingness to spend money. The newly refurbished stadium looked great and combined great public transportation access with a Euro-style fanbase.
The team announced a five year partnership with Quebecor Media. The relationship covers sponsorship, media, technology and more. As part of that relationship, TVA Sports will be the team’s flagship broadcaster and will have rights to most of the team’s broadcast matches. According to the official press release, the relatinship with TVA will go further than just broadcasts. TVA Group PResident and CEO Pierre Dion says, ”We want to offer rich, varied coverage that gives viewers full information about the Impact and the game of soccer through interviews with players, behind-the-scenes reports, and interviews with the team’s owners and with experts.”
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