Sports 101

There's going to be a new league in town, and US national team soccer player Julie Foudy says, "It's like Christmas." Foudy is referring to the new Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA) - an eight-team professional league scheduled to begin play next April. But can it do better than the struggling women's pro-basketball league?

Commissioner Tony DiCicco, who coached the US women's soccer team to a World Cup title, thinks so.

"Women's soccer is enjoying a high level of popularity," he says. But doubters have circled. Sports journalist Shane Murphy writes on the Web site "... As much as I support women's sports, I'm uneasy about this league's ultimate success ... [because] the now-defunct American Basketball League was founded on a similar foundation as the WUSA...."

Q: Who will play in the WUSA?

A: All 20 members of the US women's soccer team - winners of the 1999 World Cup and '96 Olympic gold. Star players will be dispersed among the franchises, which will play 80-game schedules.

Q: What kind of attendance is expected?

A: "Our business plan sees an average attendance of 6,500 - that's conservative, but we think we can obtain that," Mr. DiCicco said. They will play in stadiums smaller than Major League Soccer - the five-year-old men's league - in hopes of generating sellouts and season-ticket sales. If WUSA can't find smaller venues right away, it's possible that games may be played in NFL stadiums.

Q: How many cities will the league play in?

A: Eight: Atlanta, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Orlando-Tampa, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington.

Q: Who will support the WUSA?

A: The league has received financial backing from several major US media companies, including Time-Warner and Cox Communications.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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