Soccer Business Bits: Salary Comparison, WPS Attendance & More

In an ESPN.com article about UCONN star Maya Moore, LZ Granderson provides some interesting detail about salaries in the WNBA.  Because fans often look at the WNBA for purposes of comparing MLS TV and attendance, we thought the salary numbers would also provide an interesting point of analysis.  Here is the passage from Granderson’s article: “The salary range for WNBA rookies drafted 1-4 is $44,064 in the first year and taps out at $56,182 in the fourth year of their contracts.  The max any WNBA player can earn is $95,000.”  From this sentence, it is apparent that WNBA salaries are well below those in Major League soccer where the minimum salary under the new CBA is $40k and a healthy percentage of players make in excess of $100k per year.  Moreover, the $95k cap on salaries is well below the higher end salaries in MLS.

Keeping with women’s sports, we pulled some attendance nuggets from WPS Commissioner Tonya Antonucci’s media conference call.   According to her statement, season ticket sales for returning teams are up 20% and local sponsorships are up 150%.  WPS averaged over 4,600 fans per game in 2009 and the league is shooting for a a 5-10 % increase in 2010. Other bits from the call include an announcement about a two team expansion in 2011 and discussion of the new stadium in the Atlanta area.

Finally, a quick note on the stadium effort in Houston.  The City Council approved the deal for the stadium that will be shared between the Dynamo and Texas Southern football.  The county will vote to approve the arrangement on Tuesday.  In addition to the $15 million dollar city contribution to the land, the team will foot the bill for the additional cost of stadium construction.  Total cost of the projected 21k seat stadium is expected to be about $80 million with the Dynamo ownership (primarily AEG and Golden Boy Promotions) funding about $60 million.  The rest of the funds could come from tax credits,  the TIRZ money and from some of the stiumulus money floating around.  The TIRZ program will also provide the property for the stadium.   Another round of voting is required to move the project forward.

Soccer Stadium & Expansion Update

With Red Bull Arena (rightly) garnering all of the attention lately, some of the other stadium projects around the league are also moving forward.  In anticipation of the upcoming season, we thought it worthwhile to take a look at some of the other arenas coming through the pipeline.  Before we get there, we recommend checking this story about a possible Montreal expansion announcement on the near horizon.

The big stadium news of the day was a report that efforts to construct a stadium in Houston are moving forward thanks to a recent agreement between the City of Houston and Harris County to construct $20 million in infrastructure improvements.  The team will foot the bill for the additional cost of stadium construction.  Total cost of the projected 21k seat stadium is expected to be about $80 million with the Dynamo ownership (primarily AEG and Golden Boy Promotions) funding about $60 million.  The rest of the funds could come from tax credits,  the TIRZ money and from some of the stiumulus money floating around.  The TIRZ program will also provide the property for the stadium.   Another round of voting is required to move the project forward.

In San Jose it was announced last week that the city counsel has approved the re-zoning of 90+ acres near the airport to allow stadium construction to begin.  Referring to the plan as a “soccer stimulus package” a varied group supported the proposal before the board. The stadium is planned near the San Jose Airport and will reportedly required two years to construct from the date of the ground breaking.  The funding for the planned stadium has always been a bit fuzzy.  The city of San Jose had previously agreed to chop $40 million off the purchase price of a 75 acre parcel that will include the Stadium and additional mixed use development. We reported a while back that based on a request by owner Lew Wolff, Mr. Wolff will now pay $89 million for the site (purchased by the City for $81 million). The stadium will seat 15,000 (with additional seating for 3,000 more on a berm at the stadium’s open end) and will use 14 acres of the site.

Finally, in Philly stadium construction continues with PPL Park set to open in the Summer.  For construction images, click here.  Over the next few days, we will provide stadium updates from Kansas City, Portland and Vancouver

Socer Business Bits: Dynamo Stadium, UFL & More

houstonThe Houston Business Journal is reporting that Dynamo President Oliver Luck remains committed to a downtown stadium.  The project remains held up by the use of a tax increment reinvestment zone in the Houston area.  By way of brief refresher, according to the City of Houston website, Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones are:

special districts created by City Council to attract new investment to an area. TIRZs help finance the cost of redeveloping or encouraging infill development in an area that would otherwise not attract sufficient market development in a timely manner. Taxes attributable to new improvements (tax increment) are set-aside in a fund to finance public improvements in the zone. Zones in the City of Houston have been created for one of three reasons:

  • to address inner city deterioration
  • to develop raw land in suburban fringe areas
    or
  • to proactively address the decline of major activity centers

Total cost of the 21k stadium is expected to be about $80 million with the Dynamo ownership (primarily AEG and Golden Boy Promotions) funding about $60 million.  The rest of the funds could come from tax credits,  the TIZ money and from some of the stiumulus money floating around.  The TIZ program will also provide the property for the stadium.  According to Houston President Oliver Luck, multiple banks are lining up to provide financing for the construction project.  As we have noted previously, this is a great time for construction, with the cost of materials and labor way down.  Also, these are the type of projects that can bring jobs and income into the economy.  The economic benefit of stadium projects is also debatable, but during a downturn there is a definite economic upside.

As a brief aside, we spent last night in East Hartford, Connecticut at a UFL game between New York and Florida.  The UFL is an upstart football professional league muddling through its inaugural season.  The UFL is following the single entity model with league ownership of the various teams.  Attendance was very slight, with most attendees seemingly using free tickets to get in the door.  League TV ratings are hovering below 100k per game. which is well below MLS numbers  Despite this seemingly bleak situation, the League has remarkably signed tv contracts worth $70 million over two years, far in excess of MLS contracts.

One final note.  The Galaxy/Dynamo match won’t kick off until 11:25 Eastern on ESPN2, making it a late night for east coast fans.  The gams is preceded by a college football matchup (which will likely run long).  ESPN has built a  25 minute buffer between with a scheduled pre-game show, but there is a good chance some of the game will be chopped.