Monday, August 11, 2008

Atlanta to Host Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) Team in 2010

PRNewswire/ -- With the 2008 Olympic Games underway and many fans wondering what's next for their favorite female soccer players, Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) announced today that it has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to expand to Atlanta, Ga. in 2010, the League's second year of play.

Atlanta joins Philadelphia as an expected 2010 WPS expansion city, while host cities named to date for the inaugural 2009 season include Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New Jersey/New York, St. Louis, and Washington D.C. Meanwhile, the League continues to explore additional potential franchises for both the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

Atlanta entrepreneur T. Fitz Johnson, former CEO of Eagle Group International, LLC, leads the local WPS ownership group and is slated to serve as the team's managing partner. A member of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA), Johnson holds an Advanced National Diploma from the organization and has extensive ties to soccer at the youth, collegiate, amateur and professional levels.

"Atlanta is well-known throughout the country as being a solid soccer city filled with talented players and enthusiastic fans, so we've had our eye on Atlanta as an expansion market for many months," said Tonya Antonucci, WPS commissioner. "The League is fortunate to have Fitz on board, as we will certainly tap his enthusiasm and business savvy during our inaugural season."

Johnson is a 21-year veteran of the U.S. Army and Army reserve, having earned his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Kentucky, College of Law. Prior to serving as CEO of Eagle Group International, he served as the organization's Chief Counsel, V.P. for Human Resources, Executive Vice President, COO, and President.

"WPS has proven itself to be a smart business venture, with a conservative business plan built on realistic numbers and executive leaders that not only know soccer as a sport, but as a business," said Johnson. "Atlanta soccer fans can now watch the world's greatest athletes play in this month's Olympic Games and know that those same premier players will soon put their talent on display in our city as part of WPS."

"As a League, we want owners who have solid operational business experience, a deep-rooted passion for soccer, and a commitment to the community, as well as extensive local connections. Fitz meets and exceeds these requirements and we look forward to the prospect of adding him as our business partner," said Jack Cummins, a Chicago Red Stars owner who has worked on expansion for the league.

From 2001-2003, Atlanta was home to the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA) Atlanta Beat and was the only team in the League to reach the playoffs every season.

Plans for Atlanta's WPS nickname, logo and colors as well as its coaching and front office staff will be announced at a later date. In the meantime, Atlanta fans are encouraged to visit and submit their home videos explaining why their city is the "Top Town" when it comes to soccer. Brandi Chastain, former U.S. Women's National Team member and star defender for the WUSA San Jose CyberRays, will choose the winner, who will be awarded an all-expense-paid trip for two to an upcoming WPS event.

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