WUSA ANNOUNCES MINNEAPOLIS AND LOS ANGELES AS HOSTS OF SOCCER FESTIVALSMar 1, 2004
WASHINGTON, D.C. - (Monday, March 1, 2004) - Two of the premier sports complexes in the world will play host to the WUSA Soccer Festivals in June, as league officials announced today that The Home Depot Center in Carson, CA and the National Sports Center in Blaine, MN were named as venues for the weekend events this summer. The world's best female soccer players will display their skills at the National Sports Center the weekend of June 17-20 and at The Home Depot Center June 24-27.
A third WUSA Soccer Festival may be announced in the near future as WUSA officials continue to review proposals from two additional communities, including one former WUSA market. The potential third WUSA Soccer Festival would take place June 10-13. The 2004 WUSA Soccer Festivals will serve as a bridge for the league as it prepares to return with a full operation in 2005.
\"The WUSA Soccer Festivals are a terrific opportunity for soccer fans to witness the world's best female players right before the Athens Summer Olympic Games,\" said Tony DiCicco, co-chairman of the committee to re-launch the WUSA. \"Although we have not decided 100 percent on which teams will play in Carson or Blaine, it is our goal to have the San Diego Spirit and San Jose CyberRays participate at The Home Depot Center and Minneapolis' Briana Scurry and the Atlanta Beat at the National Sports Center.\"
The WUSA Soccer Festival Weekends will feature a series of soccer-themed events during the Thursday to Sunday timeframe. Each weekend is scheduled to feature soccer clinics, player appearances and autograph signing sessions, WUSA Fan Zones, a Friday luncheon and many other festivities. Exhibition matches featuring four WUSA teams will highlight the weekend. Complete details regarding the weekend schedule, including the times of the matches, will be unveiled in the near future.
\"The Home Depot Center and the National Sports Center are two of the finest soccer facilities in this country,\" said Joe Cummings, co-chairman of the committee to re-launch the WUSA. \"Southern California and the Twin Cities are two areas that have a long history of tremendous support for soccer events, and we're excited to bring the WUSA to these venues for the first time.\"
More than 15 communities were in discussions to host the WUSA Soccer Festivals, including all eight markets that featured WUSA teams from 2001-2003. Many key criteria were considered in the decision-making process for the host markets, including stadia, history of supporting soccer events, geographic location, infrastructure of the host venue and many other factors.
\"It was an extremely tough decision,\" Cummings added. \"In fact, we're still in serious discussions with two markets about potentially hosting a third WUSA Soccer Festival. Also, with three years of history in the eight WUSA markets, we have an in-depth knowledge regarding those cities. We felt it was important to take a hard look at the potential of other markets for WUSA franchises as we gear up for a return to full operations in 2005.\"
All of the U.S. women's national team stars of the WUSA are committed to play in the WUSA Soccer Festivals, which also may include several of the international standouts. The WUSA coaches from 2003 will be asked to guide their teams in the 2004 exhibitions. There will be no draft for the top college players, but many college seniors may be placed with different clubs to showcase their talents next to the current WUSA stars.
The WUSA will make its debut in the state of Minnesota June 17-20 at the National Sports Center in Blaine. Located just 20 minutes from both downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, the National Sports Center has been certified by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest soccer complex on earth. The complex includes 52 regulation size soccer fields, including a 10,000-seat soccer stadium where the WUSA matches will take place. The U.S. women's national team has played numerous matches at the National Sports Center, most recently a 4-0 victory over Norway on July 21, 2002.
The WUSA Soccer Festival weekend at the National Sports Center will be held in conjunction with the 10th Annual All American Girls' (AAG) Invitational Soccer Tournament, the girls' and women's-only event that is one of the premier summer soccer events in the region. More than 200 teams are expected to participate in the AAG tournament.
\"In my view the WUSA is a jewel in the world of women's sports,\" said Kris Bjerkness, executive director of the National Sports Center. \"The National Sports Center looks forward to the opportunity to host the Festival and provide a unique and special experience for Minnesota fans.\"
The host venue for the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup, The Home Depot Center is a 125-acre development in Carson, California featuring state-of-the-art stadiums and facilities for soccer, tennis, track and field, cycling, volleyball, baseball, softball, basketball and other sports. The WUSA Soccer Festival matches will take place at the a 27,000-seat soccer stadium, which is home to Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy and the U.S. Soccer national team training headquarters.
\"As the home of The United States Soccer Federation and many of the most important soccer competitions since The Home Depot Center opened almost a year ago, including the 2003 Women's World Cup final, we are proud to welcome back the finest women's soccer competitors in the United States,\" said Bill Peterson, managing director, The Home Depot Center. \"The WUSA Soccer Festival will be a great opportunity for southern California soccer fans to once again see their favorite WUSA players in action as part of a weekend-long celebration of women's soccer. The Home Depot Center is the ideal location for the best competitions, and also provides a unique fan experience with the opportunity to interact with the best competitors in women's soccer, just prior to competing for Olympic gold medal in Athens.\"
Ticket information for the WUSA Soccer Festivals will be announced in the near future. Soccer fans are encouraged to check www.WUSA.com, www.nscsports.org, www.homedepotcenter.com for ticket information updates.
Featuring the best women's soccer players in the world, WUSA athletes include U.S. stars Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, Briana Scurry, Abby Wambach, Kristine Lilly, Julie Foudy and dozens of international stars such as Germany's Birgit Prinz, France's Marinette Pichon and Norway's Dagny Mellgren. The eight WUSA teams that competed during the 2003 season were the Atlanta Beat, Boston Breakers, Carolina Courage, New York Power, Philadelphia Charge, San Diego Spirit, San Jose CyberRays and the Washington Freedom.
WUSA SOCCER FESTIVALS AT A GLANCE
WHAT: Weekend soccer festivals featuring two WUSA matches and various soccer-themed events.
WHEN/WHERE: June 17-20 at the National Sports Center in Blaine, MN
June 24-27 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, CA
NOTE: A third WUSA Soccer Festival may be added June 10-13 at a location TBD
WHO: The world's greatest female soccer players will participate in these festivals, including many veterans of the 2003 Women's World Cup. These world-class athletes will feature players from the U.S. national team and WUSA All-Star squads. In addition, a select group of international stars are expected to participate. Nearly 100 WUSA players are expected to participate in the WUSA Soccer Festivals.
TICKETS: Ticket information will be available at WUSA.com in the near future
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