DENVER, COLO. - National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), the nation's only women's professional fastpitch softball league, announced here Saturday (July 5) that Tucson has signed on as the latest affiliate in the growing league that will feature a collection of top collegiate and former professional players.
The Tucson affiliate is part of the launch of an eight-team league next summer. The Tucson team will be joining current affilates in Akron, Boston, Denver, Houston and Sacramento. Other potential markets include Philadelphia, New York/New Jersey, Minneapolis, Milwaukee and Oklahoma City.
Champion Sports Promotions, Inc. of Tucson and Jane Madden are the owners of the new Tucson team. "Softball is an extension of baseball, women deserve the right to compete on a professional level, the same as men," said Jim Tiggas, the principal owner of Champion Sports Promotions. Tiggas' son Matt is also a partner in Champion Sports Promotions.
"It's a great game, and we want to bring this exciting professional sport to Tucson and all of Arizona. We want to give women athletes the opportunity for a professional sports career and provide a guide for young girls' aspirations," said Jim Tiggas, who is promoting the 2003 NPF All-Stars Tour in Arizona this week.
The NPF All-Stars will be in the Phoenix-area for appearances, clinics and a game Tuesday through Thursday, including a 7:30 p.m. contest at Arizona State University's Farrington Stadium Thursday in Tempe. The tour ends in Tucson Friday and Saturday with a 7:30 p.m. game Friday at the University of Arizona's Hillenbrand Stadium. The Arizona Diamondbacks will host the NPF All-Stars Tuesday at Bank One Ballpark.
"It is a very exciting time for NPF," said NPF President Richard Levine. "We know the expansion teams need to have independent ownership, quality facilities and strong community support. We also know from a league perspective, fans are looking for this kind of entertainment."
The partners in the Tucson affiliate look to make the team "a strong business venture for the community. From analyzing how fastpitch teams operate in this and other markets, we intend to attract a strong base of local fans," said Jim Tiggas. "Champion Sports already hosts a national collegiate tournament, the Tucson Invitational Games. We are in our third year of competition and have seen how fastpitch softball has grown, not only here, but also around the country. This will be a continuation of bringing an economic benefit to Tucson.
Madden, a passionate supporter of girls and women's fastpitch in Tucson, joins Champion Sports Promotions as a partner in the Tucson NPF team. As a supporter of the University of Arizona women's softball team, Madden hopes "we can only hope to be as successful as the Wildcat softball team."
The Tucson partnership also wants "to focus on the community to create opportunities for girls and women," said Matt Tiggas. "We will set up a scholarship fund along with staging player and team clinics, and training for coaches as ways to get more girls and women involved in the sport of softball to enjoy the sportsmanship and camaraderie."
On a national level, Major League Baseball is the Official Development Partner of National Professional Fastpitch in the category of women's professional fastpitch softball. The partnership is part of The Commissioner's Initiative on Women and Baseball, a league-wide effort launched in 2000 to help Major League Baseball and the 30 Major League Clubs build stronger relationships with female audiences.
Softball is enjoying an unparalleled period of growth locally and nationwide. In Arizona, there are thousands of adult and youth softball teams registered with the Amateur Softball Association, and hundreds more that play unaffiliated. The success of the U.S. Olympic women's fastpitch team, coupled with the demand for more female sports opportunities, resulted in a 67.3 percent national increase in the number of female softball players at the high school level from 1980 to 2000, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.
Headquartered in Denver, National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) was created to give elite women fastpitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport. The NPF has operated since 1997 under the names Women's Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women's Pro Softball League (WPSL).
Contact - www.profastpitch.com
·Rich Levine, CEO and President, National Pro Fastpitch , 303/316-7800
·Kathy Dosen, NPF Director of Marketing & Merchandising, 720/490-7061, firstname.lastname@example.org
·Aaron Moore, NPF On-Site Media Information, 720/318-1205, email@example.com