Western New York gets women's team

Updated: September 24, 2010, 12:42 PM ET
Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Women's Professional Soccer is preparing to add an eighth team next season by granting conditional approval for a franchise in western New York.

Announcing the move Friday, the WPS board of governors awarded the franchise to Joe Sahlen, who plans to split home games between Rochester and Niagara University. Sahlen operates a sports complex outside Buffalo and owns the Buffalo Flash, which went undefeated to win the United Soccer League W-League title this summer.

The team, the name and logo of which will be unveiled next month, will replace St. Louis Athletica, which folded in May due to financial problems.

The decision to split the team's home schedule was made to draw support from across a large region. Both Niagara University and Rochester also have soccer-specific facilities. The team's games at Rochester will be played at the 14,000-seat Rochester Rhinos Stadium.

"The western New York region has a tremendous soccer tradition," WPS chief operating officer Anne-Marie Eileraas said. "The existing infrastructure of the Flash organization will provide a great foundation for this team to flourish in the WPS."

David Halstead, co-chair of the WPS expansion committee, said the league will consider expanding further for the 2012 season.

The San Francisco-based WPS has teams in Boston, Chicago, the San Francisco Bay area, New Jersey, Washington, Atlanta and Philadelphia.

The WPS completes its second season Sunday when the Bay Area's FC Gold Pride play the Philadelphia Independence in the championship game. This year, teams played a 24-game schedule starting in April.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press