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Texas Charge Has Folded


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#1
KCSoftball

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It was announced Thursday that the Charge has folded!

 

When is the NPF going to wake up and spend the time and resources in promoting itself on all media, not just Twitter? Methinks the four teams still standing will continue to carry along as they have always done.  Heck folks, hire someone to go out and personally visit every American corporation out there and "beg" for support! 

 



#2
SpartanIlliniCub

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I was not able to confirm this anywhere.  Where did you read that it had folded?

 

If true that is really devastating.  Right when it seemed the league was finally expanding and moving away from just four teams, it has to contract again.  And the Dallas Charge had some pretty good players on its roster, especially on its pitching staff.  UCLA's Ally Carda, Arizona State's Dallas Escobedo, and Florida's Delanie Gourley were all on the squad.  If true it's a sad day for pro softball!



#3
KCSoftball

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Players on social media are stating it, and the word is the Charge players have been notified by the league via email that they are now free agents. The Dawgs also have already signed Hagler and Bailey.   Here's a good read: https://www.facebook....pisano?fref=nf



#4
SpartanIlliniCub

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Wow.  I don't know who Victor Pisano is, but he wrote a SCATHING rebuke of the NPF on Facebook. I tried to edit the article and include just the highlights below:

 

The Texas Charge DID NOT "fold." On numerous occasions at the conclusion of the season, we actively pursued positive and constructive dialogue with the league to create a discussion and find ways to not only better our franchise, but the entire league, as well; all in an effort to improve our position in the sports market. At no time did the league respond. To be clear, we were in a strong financial position, that was not a concern. To say we "folded" shows a complete lack of respect to the 30+ sponsorship partners we had outside of the league....

 

The NPF has had 17 teams in 13 years. Only 5 of those 17 teams are still in the league today. That is a retention rate of only 29%. I hear a lot of people say it’s because there is no corporate sponsorship money. That is true, to an extent, but is the league really making an effort? Instead of relying on a league that has burnt so many bridges, we as an organization took the challenge head on and did our own marketing, and hit the streets for six months promoting the game, the athletes, and the experience of an NPF game finding local business partners who bought into the vision and supported us not only with their money, but were so committed they attended the games.

 

[I]t’s the problem with the NPF—no acknowledgement or humility to ask "what is wrong”? Why not form a group of NPF alumni and create an advisory committee to provide an unbiased analysis over a season? Why not create another advisory committee that consist of current players, unless you would rather them form a players union? As a league, why not attend games and actually talk to the fans and ask them what they think? I never witnessed anybody from the league mingling with fans. They were in the press box or sitting with people they knew. Why not bring in a marketing firm who has worked specifically with women’s pro athletics (tennis, golf, track & field, etc.) to assist the league? It would be a large investment, but if it works, it will pay for itself. The Charge had 8-10 volunteers in bright yellow shirts throughout the stands at every game talking to fans, engaging them, and learning how we could do things better. How else could we learn to improve? The thing is, how can things get better when there is no feedback or encouragement of opinions from the top?

 

I posted on Twitter yesterday that the league continues to do things the same way yet expect a different result. That is the definition of insanity.

 

It's time for something new—new leadership, a new league, new ideas, new anything. We have three years to get this right as we prepare for the 2020 Olympics. If we don't find a solution by then, I worry about the future of the game for these incredible athletes following their collegiate careers. These players deserve better. Year after year they hear that changes are coming, but nothing happens. Not to mention the fact that there is a whole generation watching and setting goals to play at the top level, what example is this league setting for them? We are letting those kids down. I will tell you, one thing you won’t see as it pertains to this post will be current NPF players either commenting or "liking" it because of the repercussions they may face by the league. That should tell you something.



#5
KCSoftball

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I really caught these quotes from above article: 

 

The NPF has had 17 teams in 13 years. Only 5 of those 17 teams are still in the league today.

 

...the league continues to do things the same way yet expect a different result. That is the definition of insanity.

 

It says so much as to why the NPF in not growing, and in fact may be slowly dying! 



#6
CatOsterFan

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Wow.  That guy is pretty upset!  And while much of the venom against the NPF is likely true, the fact remains that some NPF teams find a way to turn enough of a profit to stick around and some, like the Charge, do not.  I'm sure there is a lot of blame to go around, but the Charge deserve some of it too.  This guy Victor Pisano says the team acquired business partners to support the team, but if he truly was successful at that, the team would still be around.



#7
KCSoftball

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It was stated the Charge was turning a small profit, but the NPF kept adding extra expenses to the bottom line.  Also the NPF still hasen't addressedf the Charge folding. I have heard npthing from the Commisssioner about this. Only yesterday everything on the NPF website about the Charge was blocked. I seem to remember when other teams folded the NPF ran a news article about it.  



#8
MammaZord

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Wow. What a blistering critique from Mr. Pisano! Looking at his Facebook page it seems that he is heavily involved with the Charge in some way - maybe a financial backer or other front-office position. I couldn't find too much about him after a cursory Google search. Anyways, his post brings out some of the criticisms that a lot of us make on this board. Namely, the marketing, or lack thereof, the league does. The league inability to build long-term franchises, and the inability for the NPF to co-exist with the Olympics. I wonder what he meant by a league that has "burnt so many bridges".  

 

I think Pisano is dead right on one issue: the NPF needs new leadership. It the league's shortcomings are so evident to outsiders, then something needs to change. Professional women's soccer has gone through several iterations, but they've finally landed on something that works. There's really no reason that softball can't do the same. It's time for a change at the top!



#9
KCSoftball

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I want to preface the below with the fact that I really love the idea of  Women's professional Fastpitch Softball, and feel it needs to be played as a full time sport with full time pay for the players!  The NPF will never become a full time league under it's present set-up! The present owners are satisfied with how things are going and I don't think they could afford to invest in a full time league with full time pay! But this is something for another post? 

The NPF is owned, as far as I can find out, by from 1 to 4 people?  I have tried to find out but always run into a dead end. I hear that either Ms Kempt is sole owner or a group of 4 made up of former Bandits owner, one of the Racers owners, former Diamonds owner and the Pride owner?  Anyway the NPF is privately owned. The ownership offers Franchises and teams pay fees to the league to play in it. Those fees are set by ownership.  I might add that the Bandits, Racers, Pride were formed when teams "bought" into the league. The Dawgs & Charge joined under new rules were teams joining were Franchises? Usually there are different rules for 'buying' into something and those buying a franchise?

I remember hearing that under the old CBSS TV contract that only the league got the TV money? Also Franchises must follow strict rules set by the ownership! If you are a 'owner' you have a different set of rules!

Ever wonder why the Pride seems to have it's own set of rules? Just some food for thought!    



#10
MammaZord

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 interesting information, KC. I also tried to find more information about the NPF's ownership. Cheri Kempf's bio page on the NPF website notes that she established NPF Media, LLC , "a private investment group that financially supports league growth in the specific ares of League Office operations, expansion, sponsorships. and increased media coverage." I googled NPF Media, LLC, and found more info on Corporation Wiki https://www.corporat...x/npf-media-llc.  This site says that the LLC is "no longer active". I notice that the key people listed are Craig L. Stout (owner of the Akron Racers); Don DeDonatis (GM of USSSA Pride); Bill Sokolis (former owner and President of the Bandits) and a John Scott - I couldn't find info about him- his name is a little too common for a simple google search. Any one in the know feel free to comment. I don't see Cheri Kempf's name anywhere! Also, I'm thinking this LLC folded once Bill Sokolis sold the Bandits to the city of Rosemont. Who knows. I just thought it was interesting that Cheri Kempf set up the LLC but did not seem to have a controlling interest. Admittedly, I know very little about how this all works....

 

I took a look at the "front office" of the NPF, and it looks like the bulk of marketing strategy falls on the shoulders of Gayle Lynn Wilson, the Vice President of the league. She wears a lot of hats for the league including developing social media platforms, corporate sponsorships, and helped get the Tennessee Diamonds franchise off the ground (we all know the crazy meanderings of that franchise).Wilson had some business experience with her years managing Club K, Cheri Kempf's training facility. Wilson for sure has a solid softball background, but perhaps it's time to bring in some new blood. The league really needs someone who is committed to not only growing the league but also helping each franchise develop a solid fan base to insure long-term success. A fresh set of eyes and some new ideas can go a long way for the NPF!!



#11
SpartanIlliniCub

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The league has some experienced business people to draw from.  Don DeDonatis is the CEO and COO of USSSA which has 4.5 million members.  DeDonatis obviously has some idea on how to run a successful business, why does he give the reins to someone like Cheri Kempf who has fallen far short of success with the NPF so far. 

 

And I checked out that website MammaZord.  I saw the NPF Media, LLC website and saw that the corporation is in active because of "tax forefeiture" in Jan 2017.  That means NPF Media LLC did not file a Texas tax return or pay a Texas tax or penalty.  Ouch.  And taxes in Texas are famously low and simple.  Sounds like there may be more trouble in the NPF than for just the Charge....



#12
KCSoftball

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Not too sure Don DeDonatis has that much interest in completely taking over (wishful thinking) something like the NPF? He has gotten a 'TON" of mileage out of the Pride. The Pride was the vehicle he used to help grow his USSSA brand. He now has his foot (whole leg) in the door in every state and to some extent even internationally. Not sure he really needs it that much any more?

The USSA is now a Major player in the world of all things softball! When he speaks, people listen! But do agree that maybe it is time for some change in the NPF. It needs new ideas, new direction, new people, new ownerships, so it can grow into what it should be, a full time league, with full time pay for the players!

...............It is time!.................... 



#13
FaspitchPapa

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The NPF is in shambles, but it doesn't have to be!  I checked out some stats for US Womens Soccer and the average attendance is 5,083 fans per game.  The top team (Portland Thorns) averaged 17,653 per game and the lowest team (Sky Blue FC) average 1,788 per game.  The overall per game average is 5,083-- The NPF doesn't even draw that many during the entire weekend of the championship series (but reasons for that may be a topic for a different post). 

 

The NPF should take more lessons from leagues with similar fanbases that are successful.  Instead it is making misstep after misstep and another team has now shut its doors.



#14
KCSoftball

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Papa, I agree. But until the NPF becomes a 'Full Time" league with a TV Contract, I just don't see them attracting very many fans? I am sorry, but, the NPF is looked at as a part time summer league. Almost (maybe a few local outlets?) no national media outlet carries info on the NPF. How do they expect to grow fans if the fans don't know or hear about you? I can honestly say, except for what I have send in) I never read or hear anything about the NPF in my local media!  



#15
FaspitchPapa

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I'm pretty sure the US Womens Soccer League did not have a TV contract until recently when the Lifetime network (which mostly plays holiday and murder themed stories with a lady as the protagonist) contracted with USWS to broadcast one "game of the week" per week.  NPF has tried to get their product on TV before but it coudn't gather enough eyeballs to make it work long term.  I hope USWS doesn't have the same struggles and can earn a regular and growing audience.



#16
In-the-stands

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  I saw the NPF Media, LLC website and saw that the corporation is in active because of "tax forefeiture" in Jan 2017.  That means NPF Media LLC did not file a Texas tax return or pay a Texas tax or penalty.  Ouch.  And taxes in Texas are famously low and simple.  Sounds like there may be more trouble in the NPF than for just the Charge....

 

NPF Franchising, LLC is another one and that was "voluntarily dissolved" in 2015. I really don't take much stock in the comings and goings of company formation. Sometimes the reason for having the entity is short term, or simply no longer serves a purpose. 



#17
In-the-stands

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Of the six teams in existence at this time last year two no longer exist and were not offered for sale...they basically went under. A third had its owner and main sponsor withdraw support and is now continuing under the ownership of the Town where the ball field is. That transfer of ownership was basically a payment of the annual renewal fee to the league ($50,000). So in the end it appeared that team was not sold...but transferred.

 

What does this all mean and why is it important? The value of a "franchise" is ultimately the price you can get for it if you sell it. That of course means that the three noted Franchises were basically worthless. The cost of a franchise should be a in keeping with the relative value. For instance you can buy a Subway franchise...depending on your location...for less than $50,000....then outfit your store, inventory and you're in business probably for about $250k all in...and you are probably cash flow-positive the day you open.

 

Considering this, the fee charged for a NPF franchise is out of whack with the market value...which as demonstrated is zero.

 

Further, the league now has two governmental owners...the Village of Rosemont and China. A third entity is an international governing body with millions of members.  These team ownerships have quite different motivations in terms of their business model than do the two remaining privately owned franchises.

 

Finally, as noted by many the league appears to be struggling. There are no doubt lots of factors, but in the end its the financial one that matters most. Are there ways to correct this? I believe so, but it remains unclear if the current status quo is being challenged in any meaningful way.



#18
KCSoftball

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Nothing better to do today, so: 

The ownership info on the NPF is very sketchy at best. Be very interesting to know who/what really owns the NPF? All I can recover is the following:

NPF Media, LLC
NPF Franchising, LLC The company has 2 principals on record. The principals are Cheri K. Kempf and Highland Park Service Corp.. The Registered Agent on file for this company is Anne L. Meyers
FASTPITCH PARTNERS, LLC   ANNE L MEYERS
L2P SPORTS, LTD.  

​Currious as to who Anne L Meyers is? She sure seems to have her hands into a lot of stuff!



#19
In-the-stands

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I would stand corrected, but I believe ownership reverted to and is shared by the team owners. The annual team renewal fee is what supports the small staff and organizational overhead.



#20
In-the-stands

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Nothing better to do today, so: 

The ownership info on the NPF is very sketchy at best. Be very interesting to know who/what really owns the NPF? All I can recover is the following:

NPF Media, LLC
NPF Franchising, LLC The company has 2 principals on record. The principals are Cheri K. Kempf and Highland Park Service Corp.. The Registered Agent on file for this company is Anne L. Meyers
FASTPITCH PARTNERS, LLC   ANNE L MEYERS
L2P SPORTS, LTD.  

​Currious as to who Anne L Meyers is? She sure seems to have her hands into a lot of stuff!

In answer to your question regarding Anne L. Meyers, she is an Attorney in Cleveland. She is the founding Partner at the firm Meyers Roman Friedberg and Lewis. That firm was/is (not sure which) handling franchising for NPF.






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