With Festivals Set, WUSA’s Still Kicking

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The Women’s United Soccer Association, the cable-centric soccer circuit that ceased operations after its third season last September, took a few more steps toward a relaunch last week, announcing it would run a pair of soccer festivals in the Minneapolis and Los Angeles areas in June.

The National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn. and the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., will host a series of matches involving a minimum of 100 former WUSA players, as well as clinics, autograph sessions and other community outreach efforts from June 17 to 20 and June 24 to 27, respectively.

The sites were among more than 18 that expressed interest in hosting the events, including venues in the eight former WUSA markets. A third weekend (June 10 to 13) is still under consideration, Joe Cummings, co-chairman of the committee to relaunch the WUSA, said during a March 1 conference call.

These festivals are designed to serve as a bridge to keep the brand names of the WUSA and its clubs alive, as former league officials and players strive to bring the league back for a full season in 2005, said Tony DeCicco, the league’s former commissioner and now co-chairman of the relaunch committee.

DeCicco said John Hendricks — Discovery Communications Inc.’s head and patriarch of the WUSA — has taken an active role in pursuing “a solid base of national sponsors” that will prove critical if the league is to reform next year.

DeCicco said he was “not at liberty” to identify interested parties and noted that “final contracts” had not yet been signed.

Hendricks’s involvement in trying to resuscitate the league aside, it was unclear whether former league investors/operators — including Time Warner Cable, Comcast Corp, Cox Enterprises Inc. and Cox Communications Inc. — would return, if the WUSA kicks again as a full league.

Cummings — who was president and general manager of the Boston Breakers, the club owned by Amos Hostetter’s Pilot House Soccer LLC — declined to comment when asked specifically about Hostetter’s involvement going forward.

Cummings noted that if the WUSA were to reconvene for a 2005 campaign, an announcement would likely be made before the start of the festivals in June, to allow enough time to reorganize and provide proper infrastructure.

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