Posted by: Ethan | May 9, 2010

WPS: Game Changer

Before I begin my bloviating, please take a moment to read the coverage at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution of tonight’s WPS match featuring the Atlanta Beat and Sky Blue FC. As the crowd at the Women’s Hoops Blog often point out, the papers won’t cover the league if they don’t think anyone is reading. Thank you for your support.

Now: In 2007, I “snuck in” to the fairly new Pizza Hut Park in Frisco Texas in advance of my first ever MLS/FC Dallas game. I was coming off of my new-found interest in soccer and the excitement of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. After taking oodles of photos in my leisure, I sat down in one of the seats and cried. Soccer was really on the move, I thought. Someone built a stadium just for pro soccer in North Texas. Perhaps other parts of the USA are more jaded about such revelations but to see the investment that was made in pro soccer here in the Dallas metro area cannot be overstated in its significance. Sadly, attendance hasn’t exactly been overflowing but that’s a problem faced all over the country across a myriad of sports.

Tonight, as I watched the WPS game of the week (or as I call it, “church”), I found myself tearing up in a similar manner as in 2007. Nothing particularly thrilling was happening at the moment in the game but the spectacle of seeing the first soccer-specific stadium built for women was something that I didn’t expect to see for many, many years. I tried to imagine what sport might be the first to build a stadium just for women’s sports and could not think of what would qualify for the necessary investment. I suppose that it can (and perhaps will) be argued that colleges that cater exclusively to women have passed this milestone many times over. But now a professional team is in the mix, and that certainly advances the plot immensely.

I am not familiar with Kennessaw State University and am wondering if there is not a men’s soccer team there or if they indeed built separate facilities for both programs. I am not opposed to the sharing of venues both at the college and pro level. From many angles it makes sense to get the most out of single facility. The Dallas Stars and Dallas Mavericks have plenty of rafter space to display the various banners of achievement earned by both clubs in two completely different sports and leagues, so why not a third and fourth team? And I have mentioned in previous articles (check my other blog if you can’t find any here) that I’d like to see the Allen Event Center embraced by some other minor league teams.

No matter what the future holds in store for women’s athletics, it takes vision and commitment to not only field a team, but create a stadium. I would like to thank and congratulate everyone who played a part in making the new KSU soccer stadium a reality. Once again, heroes are redefining the possible.

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