David Falk has followed soccer in the Puget Sound region since 1974. This blog covers Sounders FC, local college soccer, Seattle Wolves FC, Tacoma Tide FC and Kitsap Pumas. Send tips or comments to: goalseattle@gmail.com
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Seattle Soccer Examiner

Seattle Soccer Examiner

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Looking back at Seattle Wolves' trip to USL Meetings

Seattle Wolves FC are an amateur soccer club with aspirations of going pro by 2010. General Manager Andrew Opatkiewicz and Technical Director Alex Weaver recently attended the United Soccer Leagues General Meetings. We asked Andrew a few questions about the meetings and the Wolves' plans for the future.

1. What is the most-important thing the Wolves take away from your first-ever USL meetings?
The Seattle Wolves were happy to send representation to the 2008 USL AGM in Tampa, FL. The Wolves have been communicating with the USL for some time now about expansion in 2010. Over the coming year we will be working together to develop a western conference to the USL second division. The AGM served as an opportunity for the Wolves management team to meet with league officials, as well as current USL sides, and distinguished guests who are also interested and excited about the expansion. As such, it was a very productive meeting.

2. How much of a network with other owners were you able to establish? How will that come in handy as you build towards 2009?

Wolves representatives were able to meet with all of the USL front office staff and representatives from each of the other USL-2 sides. In addition, we met with many USL-1 and PDL team representatives as well as other attendees representing strategic partnerships of the league. These meetings are the first of many that will happen over the course of 2009. From these meetings the Wolves hope to reach strategic partnerships as well as schedule friendly matches for Spring 2009. It is also likely that the Wolves will use relationships with other USL-2 sides to make visits to their offices during 2009 in order to get a better understanding of how these other sides operate. It is important to note that all of the existing USL-2 sides, as well as other potential expansion sides were extremely helpful and willing to answer any of our questions.

3. Are USL-2 entry fees going up by 2010? Where will the Wolves’ financing come from?

I cannot speak to an increase in entry fees. The price that I have been quoted is reasonable. That is all that I am prepared to say on that subject. Our business plan calls for traditional financing options such as:

· Investment

· Sponsorship

It also calls for unique directives broadly categorized as such: (the details of these plans will be publicly announced in the near future)

· International Club Partnership

· Revenue Streams

· Membership Council

· Strategic Partnerships

4. Are you hoping to play matches at Starfire in 2010? What kind of crowd numbers would you need to draw in order to ‘break even’?

The Starfire Stadium is certainly one of the options that we are looking in to. It is a perfectly sized stadium for a USL-2 side. The Seattle Wolves FC understands its niche in the overall superstructure of football in the Greater Seattle area. We are focused on bridging the gap between youth/amateur and top-flight professional footballers. In doing so, we produce exciting, attacking football, as anyone who watched one of our PCSL matches this past summer can attest. As you will see in the coming months/year, our grassroots marketing campaign is targeted to a growing pool of passionate football fans, and with a little hard work and imagination will produce a strong base of loyal fans.

5. Did you “rub elbows” with any well-known soccer “stars” at the meetings?

The guest list at the USL AGM included many international clubs, and distinguished guests within the global football community. We were fortunate enough to spend time with many of them during the 4 days we were in Tampa. Perhaps our most memorable introductions happened on our first night in Tampa, when Alex Weaver and I spent the night chatting with some members of the Austin Aztex, including Stoke City FC and Everton star player Adrian Heath, now the head coach of the Aztex.

6. You said you've been talking with Kitsap before the meetings. What are you guys talking with each other about?

Robin Waite and Ben Pecora will be bringing PDL soccer to Kitsap this Summer. As such we have met in the past to fill each other in on what we are doing. The Wolves are excited about PDL coming to Kitsap, and have offered Robin and Ben any help that we can give them. They have extended the same offer to the Wolves. Both familiar faces were at the USL AGM.

7. Do you have a better idea now of what it will take to get into the USL? What would you say the Wolves’ 'timetable' is to joining?

We have formally announced our intention on entering the USL Second division in 2010, and are working with the league on making their expansion plans happen. We know what it will take to make this expansion happen, and are confident that it will.

8. Does the Wolves possible 2010 entry into the USL-2 depend on getting a western division going? How confident are you that enough clubs can be established out west to make it work? (And what number of clubs would make it work?)

Ultimately the USL will make the final decision on the expansion of the USL Second Division. In doing so, I am sure that they will weigh numerous factors. One of which undoubtedly will be the number of expansion sides. The Wolves and the USL have been in contact with numerous other organizations that have expressed interest in the USL Second division.

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