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November 19, 2010 > East Bay loses a partner

East Bay loses a partner

By Giovanni Albanese Jr.

In January 2010, Cal State University-East Bay and FC Gold Pride of Women's Professional Soccer agreed to a two-year lease that allowed the eventual WPS champion to play on CSUEB's newly renovated Pioneer Stadium.

Not even a calendar year later, the Pride is extinct from professional soccer. Despite the loss of a partner which helped bring in money, for East Bay, the biggest loss was FCGP's presence.

"We hoped for a long-term relationship, but it wasn't about money. It wasn't our primary reasoning," said Chris Brown, associate vice president of enterprise operations at East Bay. "They were a good partner; they treated us well; and it was a good service to the community."

And while Brown noted that more people came up to East Bay than had ever done so before, not nearly enough came up to support the Pride and keep the franchise fiscally afloat.

East Bay was fortunate to make a few dollars from the Pride, along with certain renovations to Pioneer Stadium that hadn't been planned - specifically a couple light fixtures behind the press box - but it didn't result in fans, as the Pride finished the season with the second-lowest attendance in WPS.

Gold Pride had until Monday, Nov. 15, to provide WPS with a payment to ensure their commitment to the 2011 season - just a month and a half after winning the 2010 championship. WPS had also engaged discussions with prospective owners to take over the Pride but those talks fell through the cracks, leaving the Bay area without a team.

"It's very sad to see this great operation not going forward," said East Bay's Director of Athletics Debby De Angelis. "It is a sad day for the advancement of women's professional sports in the Bay area."

In the end, it's a business decision, and Brown was happy with the tenure, albeit a short one, that the two sides shared.

"Having FC Gold Pride at East Bay helped with finances and exposure," said Brown. "They were great and showed to be a great positive to our campus and soccer program. It's a big loss, but not a substantial financial loss at all."

FC Gold Pride will continue to pay off the bills owed for the remainder of the two-year lease, which will end in 2012.

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