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Archive for January 25, 2018

Jan. 25, 2018 — Fiddling while a league burns

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) is stumbling towards the start of its sixth season, with financial instability racking a number of clubs.

The offseason has seen F.C. Kansas City made a middle-of-the-night move to Salt Lake City to become the Utah Royals, and as early as tomorrow the Boston Breakers might fold.

The thing is, this turmoil is needless. There are groups of well-heeled soccer-committed people in both cities who should have already turned up to help out, but who have thus far not done so.

In Kansas City, the owners of Sporting Kansas City took a hand-off from Lamar Hunt himself, then invested about $200 million in building and maintaining a soccer-specific stadium for the men’s pro side. But when FCKC, having won two NWSL championships, was looking for an investor to keep them in the city, the ownership group of four (since the death last year of chairman Neal Patterson) sat idly by.

And one can say the same about Bob Kraft, the owner of the New England Revolution who just happens to also own the New England Patriots, one of the most successful professional sports franchises on the planet. How successful? The team’s top player, Tom Brady, commands a hefty $20.5 million per season. That amount of money can keep one NWSL team afloat, on the current salary cap of $278,000, for 73 years.

Kraft has kept silent about taking over the ownership of the Breakers, even as rumors of a stadium deal in Dorchester, Mass. have been flying across the Boston airwaves and newspaper pages like a Brady touchdown pass.

Question is, will there be an NWSL team to play in that new stadium?