USL News Release
Friday, August 1, 2008
TAMPA, FL – United Soccer Leagues announced today the first W-League expansion team to be added for the 2009 season, unveiling that the Sahlen family, led by W-League player Alexandra Sahlen, has acquired the franchise rights for the greater Buffalo area, which will be home to the new Buffalo Flash.
Sahlen is currently the President of Sahlen Sports Park, a family-owned indoor sports facility that the W-League team will call home for training. The facility is an 180,000 sq/ft multi-sport center with three open fields, a boarded field, a fitness center, soccer store and café. The facility features a full field sized 70 by 100 yards and is home to numerous adult and youth sports leagues and tournaments.
The team will play at Orchard Park High School, where the Sahlen family has contributed in the school’s fundraising efforts to renovate the multi-purpose field over the past year.
Prior to suspending her W-League season after one game this year due to a stress fracture, Sahlen was a three-year player for the Rochester Rhinos W-League team, seeing action in 39 games from 2005-07, including the championship final four tournament hosted by Rochester last year. The former Niagara University player and assistant coach will also likely play for the Flash next season.
"I’m thrilled to be pioneering the development of women’s soccer in the Greater Buffalo area and look to bring a new level of competitive soccer to the area. Our one of a kind facility and deep successful family history, combined with the USL W-League’s standard will no doubt become a fruitful partnership that will influence women and girls of all ages in the Western New York area for years to come."
The Sahlen name is well known in the northeast as a leading producer of quality meat products. Based in Buffalo, the company was founded in 1869 and is still family-owned and operated five generations later.
The Sahlen family has become very involved in sports and sports marketing over the past four years. In addition to the indoor facility and the new W-League franchise, Sahlen’s is the Official Hot Dog of the Buffalo Bills NFL team and it has been a sponsor of a racing team in the Grand Am Koni Challenge and the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series and title sponsor of two races held at the legendary Watkins Glen auto race track. The co-owner of Team Sahlen and one of several drivers is Alexandra Sahlen’s father, Joseph.
“We are thrilled to welcome an entrepreneurial player into the W-League family as a team owner and operator,” said USL Executive Vice President and COO Tim Holt. “With her family’s tradition of excellence in business and sports in the region, we are confident that Alexandra Sahlen will follow in the family’s footsteps and make the new W-League team a success on and off the field.”
The Flash name is a carryover from the racing team, which incorporates an electric flash in its design scheme. The electric flash, also present on the city’s flag, is a reflection of Buffalo’s history with hydroelectric power from Niagara Falls. Known as the City of Light due to the widespread prevalence of electricity throughout the city, Buffalo was, in fact, the first city to ever use electric street lights.