As was discussed in Part I of this piece on the WPSL and the future of women’s soccer, for all intents and purposes, the WPS is no longer with us [at the moment, at least]. So, we choose to focus on what is left, our resources and potential capital, and potential future.
This tends to revolve around the WPSL [Women’s Premier Soccer League]. Primarily because it is a larger league, it’s been around for over a decade now [started in 1998], and has the potential and the unspoken vision of expansion.
The question is this: what kind of expansion?
Like a business, expansion comes in two forms:
- Horizontal Integration
- Vertical Integration
Vertical integration tends to be the most plausible identification associated with the recent trends of the WPSL. As discussed in Part I, the idea of an ‘elite’ division, over the already formed division.
However, as an individual writing from a community/metroplex/corn field, I can say that we are rather limited here on what can be offered through the WPSL, currently.
By ‘rather limited’, I mean…there are no teams within 150 miles of my current location. Once you hit 150, there is one, after 200 there is two, after 250 we find two more, after that…we’re heading to Chicago or Texas.
Yes, it is that bleak out here.
Due to this, with the increasing nature of the sport at the local, youth, and college levels; not to mention the kicking new stadium in Kansas City for Sporting KC, it begs the simple question:
After bringing this topic up in a chat session throughout the week [causing the mind nearly to explode on multiple occasions], a few things were noted about women’s soccer, WPSL, and the beloved ‘Great Plains’.
- No division: Currently the WPSL does have three teams in the ‘Great Plains’ area; Des Moines, Iowa; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Northwest Arkansas. However, two of those are in a division with the Texas clubs, and Des Moines barely stays alive due to amazing amount of traveling out east to Chicago, Indiana, and other Illinois clubs. There is no central division for them.
- Missouri? Kansas? What’s that? Currently with the over 70 teams that exist in the WPSL, not a single one of them fall into the states of Missouri, Kansas, or Nebraska. With a metro area over one million people, it comes as a shock that no one has attempted to invested into teams within these three states; which hold one of the strongest Division II NCAA conferences in the United States [MIAA], three of the top Division I NCAA conferences in the United States [Southeastern Conference, Big XII, and Big 10], and also houses the NSCAA Headquarters within the metro area of Kansas City, Missouri/Kansas. In other words: L-O-A-D-E-D with potential.
After looking at these two harsh realizations, and depending back on my own pride of learning soccer in the GP [Great Plains], a small group of individuals devoted to the game and the Great Plains devised a blueprint, this entails the truths of horizontal integration:
The Great Plains Division:
It shall be noted prior to divulging this information that this is merely a blueprint that is expected to be adjusted as time progresses within the league, geographical, and demographic adjustments.
First, we must establish these truths:
- Des Moines, Iowa is alone and having to travel crazy distances for a mere soccer game; financially due to travel, we assume the worst, they’re bleeding capital.
- Tulsa, Arkansas, even Oklahoma City, easily travel south, but even as easily as they could travel north.
- There is a massive gap between the ‘south’ and Des Moines. We want to see all teams succeed, but distance out here in ‘the sticks’ can be brutal [and airfare even worse].
Next, we design a ‘umbrella’ design [meaning the lacking of hard capital] for a new division with the WPSL; The Great Plains Division, involving the following current and potential cities:
- Oklahoma City
- Northwest Arkansas
- Des Moines
- Kansas City
- St. Louis
- Springfield, Missouri
First question: Is this obtainable within the next year [’13 season]?
The desire is to find a common ground, a middle place, meeting place.
What’s more central than Kansas City [just ask the Big XII, before Missouri sold out, and NCAA Division II Athletic Conference, The MIAA]?
Finally, the goal:
In the perfect world [go ahead, snicker], one would be able to get Kansas City up and running by the 2013 season. If one can maintain a team within that city [there are over a million people when all suburbs are considered], area cities [Wichita, Omaha, etc…] will be addressed on a sports model that could be successful. Factor in that aside from Kansas City and St. Louis, all of those markets lack professional sports team [not including Tulsa], plus each market does have at least one decently sized youth program, and a few even have a few college programs definitely worth noting [Creighton in Omaha for example].
If these goals are obtained, the division will be able to focus more on financial grounds for other expenditures within the league, instead of pinching pennies just to take a bus a quarter of the way across the nation.
The WPSL must be able to create systems and divisions of teams that would complement the traveling required in order to play a full season; without breaking the bank.
How is this for a startling fact: all potential nine cities can be located along the following interstates [major road arteries].
- I-44: Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Springfield, St. Louis
- I-35: Des Moines, Wichita, Kansas City, Oklahoma City
- I-29: Kansas City, Omaha
- I-80: Omaha, Des Moines
- I-70: Kansas City, St. Louis
- I-40/I-540: Northwest Arkansas, Oklahoma City
- Future I-49: Kansas City, Northwest Arkansas
While vertical integration of business [WPSL] can greatly benefit the depth of a growing program and league; without horizontal integration [spreading out], there will be continual gaps within a potential national league. Developing The Great Plains Division would bridge the gap literally between eastern and western divisions, and southern and northern divisions.
The stage is set, the blueprint is in ‘rough draft’ mode, and the fans and players are looking for an answer to this exposed, central gap.
Now, to get a team off the ground in Kansas City.