Approximately 16 months ago, PSO was approached by a potential investor who had the desire to return the Major Indoor Soccer League to the Tacoma Dome. After months of due diligence and an open dialog with the MISL, the group was ready to submit the paperwork necessary to return the best indoor soccer to the region for the first time since 1992.
Before we could submit our application, several teams from the MISL abandoned the United Soccer Leagues to join the Professional Arena Soccer League. This created a league with a larger geographic footprint that would immediately have brought our club historic rivals in Dallas and San Diego. This is an exciting time for professional indoor soccer, and this merger is historical.
We immediately engaged the commissioner and other team owners to let them know that we had a group ready to join them. Because our business plan called for an 18 month window in which to launch the franchise and ensure it’s financial stability long term, we were asked by PASL “commissioner” Kevin Milliken to wait until the end of April to open discussions with the league. At no time in our discussions with Ed Hale of the Baltimore Blast, Phil Salvagio of the San Diego Sockers or Kevin Milliken were we told that there was an ownership interest in the region already. Because of this, we continued building our ownership group, meeting with sponsors, potential ticketing partners and arenas.
Two weeks ago, during a follow up call with Mr. Milliken, he asked that we meet with Marian Bowers, the owner of the Pacific Sports Center. He told us that it would be important that she be involved in the process. I reached out to Marian immediately and we met the following day.
During this meeting, we were told in no uncertain terms that Ms. Bowers and the Pacific Sports Center owned a dormant franchise in the region, the name and logo TACOMA STARS and that they would be launching this team this fall at the ShoWare Center in Kent. Ms. Bowers was to be the sole owner of the franchise.
We had agreed that we would discuss the opportunity to partner with Ms. Bowers and bring our group and their significant capital to the table to launch the franchise.
Following the meeting with Ms. Bowers, I reached out to every member of the ownership group, and one by one they all agreed on one thing – they were not willing to partner with Ms. Bowers. The major sticking point was a simple one – there is simply too much risk in launching a team in June and playing in November.
The business plan we authored called for a long sales cycle to create long term stability for the franchise. It was also clear that our intention to operate the team as a sports business with a large sales centric staff did not appeal to either the league or the other ownership group. Both Ms. Bowers and the PASL were insistent on playing this season. We were not willing to bend on proven methods for success, and for this reason, we are out.
The world of professional sports is simple, but it’s not easy. The Sounders launched “MLS SEATTLE” in 2007 and spent 20 months selling tickets, sponsorships, broadcast rights, etc. It has become the most successful sports launch in history.
On the flip side, last year the Pennsylvania Roar in the MISL opened their office in July and yesterday closed their offices for good.
We were told that “The league has so many great announcements that it is important to play this year.”
Our position is simple, if the league is doing so many great things, then why wouldn’t you allow an operator to wait a season and build a fan base. If the league is so great, then a year from now when the Stars return, it would be greater.
We have disbanded the ownership group, returned the deposits on the founding partnerships and ceased discussions with the ShoWare Center in Kent for soccer. While we are saddened that our group failed in this attempt to have the most successful indoor soccer sports launch ever seen, we stand by our business plan and the model, and are working with another professional indoor sports league to bring the highest level of sports and entertainment to the fans of the South Sound. We hope to make an announcement in the coming months. And no, we won’t play this season!
On behalf of our group, we would like to wish Marian Bowers and her family the best of luck as they bring the Tacoma Stars to Kent this Fall.