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November 21, 2012 at 12:18 PM

A stop and chat with Bill Predmore, owner of the new women’s pro team in Seattle

predmore.jpgIn case you missed the news from earlier today, it has been confirmed by U.S. Soccer that there will be a new professional women’s soccer league next year and Seattle will have one of those eight teams. Bill Predmore is owner (you might remember this chat I had with him back in August) and be sure to check out his news release for plenty of details and quotes.

Well, I was able to catch up with Predmore again this afternoon regarding the big news and here are some of the highlights:

* * *

(How does it feel at the conclusion on a long, up-and-down process of finally getting the league announced and a Seattle team confirmed under your ownership?) “Well, it’s definitely been a more complicated process than I had initially expected it to be. Ultimately, I think it took the path that it needed to take along the way, established the support of the groups that really needed to be behind it. While it was an emotionally challenging process to go through, I’m happy with the outcome, so I can’t really complain about the path it took to get here.”

(What can you say about the talent you expect on this team and in this league?) “Our expectation is that this is going to be world-class, top-level competition here. Each club is going to have a minimum of three national team players from the U.S., two from Canada and then one from Mexico. You’ve got a great core group there that with such a small numbers of teams, the level of play is going to be significant. We think that’s going to attract talent from outside North America, as well, and that this really should be the premier destination for the top women’s soccer players in the world to play. It’s going to take some time for the league for mature and to be ready for that, but I’m very optimistic.”

(Do you know how those stars will be allocated?) “The allocation process has still not been fully defined by the soccer federation. That is going to be a little bit tricky; there are a number of challenges that have to be worked through there, but it is something that’s being figured out right now. I would expect by the middle of December that we would see that process defined. I don’t actually believe we’ll go through that allocation process until probably some time in January. I think we know enough at this point to say the players obviously are going to have a voice in where they play. There are going to be preferences, and for some of them, it might be geographic in nature, where players are going to want to go to Club A versus Club B. Obviously we have some great homegrown talent. There are some players who played last year with the Sounders Women that were tremendous. I hope we’ll have a club that is compelling enough that we can attract a few of them to come back and play in Seattle again.”

(And that some of those players — e.g. Alex Morgan, Hope Solo — played for the Sounders Women last year doesn’t affect their standing or potential involvement in this league or your team?) “No, not at all. I think there were unique circumstances with the Sounders Women last year with trying to get some playing time for the U.S. national team women prior to the Olympics. That collection at one club is unlikely to be repeated again. I credit (former Sounders GM Amy Carnell) for putting together an opportunity for them that made them want to come up and play. It gives me a lot of confidence to be able to do the same thing for our club, that we’ll see probably not the breadth of talent, but certainly depth over the long term.”

(Your press release noted tickets going on sale in December. Any expected announcements before then on a team name/logo, a coach or front office hires or home stadium?) “Yeah, my expectation is that absolutely team name will happen prior to the on-sale date for tickets. Venue will need to happen, as well, prior to that. In terms of a coach, we’re starting a search immediately. Again, to be clear, we just learned about our selection last week, so we have not had a lot of time to get the wheels in motion, but that search is starting for a coach. I can’t say for sure whether that will happen by December, but we’re obviously super motivated to get that done as soon as possible.”

(Can you talk about some of the venues you’re interested in?) “We’re certainly interested in Starfire. I think it’s served the Sounders Women well. It’s been great for the Sounders men for Open Cup matches. I think it’s the right size for our club, at least in the initial years. We’ll certainly be taking a hard look at that, but at this point we’ve not made any decisions where we’re going to play.”

(And the decision to bring former Sounders Women’s GM Amy Carnell into a senior leadership position with your team?) “Amy obviously parted ways with the Sounders Women at the close of last season, did a tremendous job for them attracting talent. I think she was instrumental in if not all, the vast majority of getting the women’s national team players to play for the Sounders Women. She has a deep love for the game and is as passionate as anybody you’re ever going to meet about the game. I think she’s going to be the perfect add to our team.”

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