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July 21, 2015 — A Southern strategy for women’s pro sports?

The National Women’s Soccer League and the Women’s National Basketball Association are both in the midst of a push to locate teams in the Deep South.

It is a risky strategy, based on past history. But as the women’s sports market has matured over the last two decades, it has begun to attract risk takers as owners and potential sponsors.

Over the last few days, it was announced that the owners of the Tulsa Shock was going to apply to the WNBA Board of Governors to move its franchise to Dallas.

Also, rumors of a new NWSL franchise in Orlando were fueled by an answer — or a lack thereof — given to a reporter last week by the owner of Orlando City SC of Major League Soccer.

Both of these moves are into areas where their respective sports have not had success in the past. The WNBA lost the Houston Comets (winners of the first four WNBA titles) in 2008, and saw its Florida franchises leave the league in 2002.

Also, despite numerous rumors and overtures and market surveys, the WNBA has not located a team in Tennessee to take advantage of what should be an enormous fan base.

Women’s soccer has not had the best relationship with the South, either. The original lineup of the WUSA included a team in Orlando, and was to have been called the Tempest. But before the first ball was kicked, the franchise was moved to North Carolina and renamed the Courage.

The second iteration of an American League, Women’s Professional Soccer, sealed its fate back in 2011 when Dan Borislow moved the Washington Freedom to Boca Raton, Fla. and renamed the team magicJack FC. The litigation and player discontent dissolved the franchise, and with it, WPS.

I’m hoping for better things for the rumored new NWSL team as well as a relocated Dallas WNBA team. These are markets which should be successful if the right ownership and sponsorship are able to be found.

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