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In Sports Commentary

Sue Black will face new challenges as President and CEO of the Milwaukee Wave. (PHOTO: Royal Brevväxling )

An open letter to Wave president Sue Black


February 12, 2013

Sue Black
President and CEO
The Milwaukee Wave
510 W. Kilbourn Ave.
Suite B
Milwaukee, WI 53203

Dear Madam President (I love saying that),

As you know, my admiration for you knows almost no bounds. From the first time I met you in Madison years ago, I was convinced of your extraordinary abilities to run and build incredible support for your organization.

You clearly accomplished that during your time heading Milwaukee County Parks and I did not agree when you were fired.

To avoid any problems in your new job, I want to take a moment of your time to point out a few areas where there will be differences between your new job and the old one.

In your old job you had nearly 1,000 employees to call on for all sorts of tasks. As near as I can tell, except for the players and coaches, you've got fewer than 10 available at the Wave. That's going to take a little getting used to.

One thing the Wave wants is for you to use your impressive experience getting community partners for the parks to grow the partnerships for the Wave. The problem I see is that according to the website, the Wave already have 158 community partners. I don't know how many more are available.

The parks in Milwaukee are incredibly popular. I don't know what the statistics are, but I'd be willing to bet that more than three-quarters of the residents in Milwaukee use the parks – at least. The Wave has a clear attendance problem. Despite having a winning team, the percent of people who fill the 9,600-seat U. S. Cellular Arena has been spotty at best.

Last year it was 50 percent filled. The previous three years were 41 percent, 47 percent and 41 percent. With no sustained growth, they seem to have reached a level that doesn't have much potential for major growth.

When you were with the Parks you had to keep a bunch of bosses happy. The County Executive and all of those petty supervisors who loved nothing more than popping off about the parks, both good and bad. With the Wave I assume you only have one boss, the guy who owns the team. That's probably a much better situation, but it will take some getting used to.

One thing that won't change much is media attention. The media didn't care much about the parks and it doesn't seem to care much about the Wave. If you can figure out how to get more coverage for the Wave, it might help those attendance figures above.

The final thing I want to caution about is to not be fooled by the most consistent rumor you hear about professional soccer. People keep saying that given all those kids soccer teams you see during the summer and fall it's only a matter of time before they all flock to the pro game. Well, that rumor has been around for more than three decades and it hasn't happened yet. That's probably a pretty good indication it's not going to happen.

I want to wish you a lot of luck. I am a fairly recent convert to watching and caring about soccer. I was crushed when the U.S. lost to Honduras.

I hope you find great success and happiness as Madam President.

Best always,

Dave Begel


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