Monday, November 17, 2008

'Waite' is over in Kitsap; Pumas to prowl Bremerton in 2009

Glass door entry to Kitsap Pumas offices.

More videos coming in the days ahead. Check back with this blog!

Kitsap Sun video

Bremerton, WA - The Kitsap Soccer club today announced fans have voted in the club name "Pumas" for the team that will kick off its first season in 2009.

Lucita Flores-Alvarenga, who voted for "Pumas" in the recent online name the club contest, was on-hand to receive the first two season tickets in club history. The announcement, held at the club offices, was attended by Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman, city council members, local soccer officials, fans, media and businesses.

Guests sign book as they enter before the announcement.

The club colors of blue, black and gold were displayed using a new logo for the club's mascot, "Pedro the Puma." An official club logo will be designed by Sungrafx of Silverdale, WA, and will be announced at a later date. The club will wear jerseys 'hooped' with blue and white, and blue shorts.

Shortly after the announcement the club sold its first six season tickets.

Talk about the club & the name "Kitsap Pumas" in the GOALKitsap Forums!

Kitsap Pumas will play in the Northwest Division of the Premier Development League of the United Soccer Leagues. Pumas will play clubs in Vancouver, Victoria and Abottsford BC, Spokane and possibly Yakima, WA, and Portland and Salem Oregon. Kitsap Pumas' closest rivals will be Tacoma Tide FC, who will play in the same division a mere 30 minutes to the south.

Pumas' offices full of excited supporters.

Owner Robin Waite and club Executive Director Ben Pecora spoke to the audience about the journey to founding, and then naming the club. Waite revealed hopes to host a "Kitsap Challenge Tournament" next season at the club's home, Bremerton Memorial Stadium. The tournament would feature out of state competition playing the Pumas.

Waite and Pecora are leaving in a few days for the United Soccer Leagues annual meetings. There the club will build its schedule and network with other clubs.

Robin Waite (left, owner) Lucita Flores-Alvarenga (ticket-winner) and Ben Pecora, KSC Executive Director.

Waiting game pays off

Robin Waite first looked into bringing professional soccer to West Sound back in late 2005. It was a bit less than two years after Seattle Sounders co-owner Adrian Hanauer's initial bid to bring Major League Soccer to Seattle had been edged out by Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA. As one of the owning 'partners' of the United Soccer Leagues Sounders, Waite was given permission to explore moving that club to Kitsap County. Initially Waite looked at the Kitsap Fairgrounds stadium site for a possible move. The county even spent money to look into design ideas to make the rodeo and car derby venue work for soccer.

Not the final logo: This is the mascot, Pedro the Puma. Waite says the final club logo might honor Chief Kitsap.

Later Waite took his search to Poulsbo, where he commissioned a stadium design on land he owns near the Wal-Mart complex and a satellite Olympic College campus. (See the GOALKitsap Museum page for more on this.) While Adrian Hanauer was successfully teaming up with new investors to bring MLS to Seattle, and thus doom the USL Sounders to extinction, Waite turned his focus to the largest city in Kitsap County, Bremerton. There he found willing city and school officials and a centrally-located venue in need of some TLC. Memorial Stadium has long been the home of the Bremerton High School Knights and the Olympic College Rangers. It has also seen semi-pro football when the West Sound Orcas played there a few years back.

Waite has been dealing with USL officials about how to 'transfer' the existing Sounders franchise while at the same time talking with Bremerton people about using Memorial. Waite's ambitions were high from the start: he wanted the USL Sounders to come over as-is and play in the top level of the league. That became a tough sell among other USL First Division club owners, some of whom reportedly balked at the idea of Kitsap being 'major league' enough for the still-minor league USL-1. In the end the league decided to grant Waite a Premier Development League (PDL) franchise in the third level of the league structure. Waite immediately went on record as saying his goal is to move the club up to the next-highest level (USL-2) as soon as other clubs on the west coast are ready to join the same division.

It's been quite a wait for both Waite and the Kitsap soccer fans who have been following the saga for over three years. In 2009 Seattle Sounders FC will kick off in Major League Soccer at Qwest Field. A few minutes west by air, but an hour by ferry, the Kitsap Pumas will also debut.
Tacoma Tide FC sit ready to take on the Pumas in the 'Narrows Bridge Bell' rivalry cup next season.

East, South, West...Puget Sound has arrived as the 'Sound of Soccer.'

1 comment:

Jon said...

Awesome news - lets hope we have a Kitsap/Tacoma/SFV Quakes playoff series next year!

Jon from the San Fernando Valley Quakes