Local franchise to join fledgling ASL Investors are former Blast fans, sponsors


Attorney Ben Neil, acting as the legal counsel for a group of local investors, said yesterday that Baltimore will be a charter member of the new Arena Soccer League.

Neil and ASL commissioner Ed Tepper met here yesterday and said that an official announcement of the franchise and its investor group is to be made in four to six weeks.

"My clients have said they are ready to make the commitment," Neil said. "We're going to field a local team that will be as competitive as any team in any soccer league in this country."

Each ASL team will play five home games and five away games its first season, which will run from May through July, 1993. The league will play under rules used by the now-defunct Major Soccer League, and its players will come from a regional draft of former college players, much like the Major Indoor Lacrosse League.

Neil said the investment group is made up of some former Blast fans and sponsors.

Tepper said he sees no reason why the application will not be accepted, but added it will be reviewed by himself and Network International, a marketing company hired to find national sponsors for the league, before final approval is given in the next two weeks.

"The Baltimore group is ready to go, but I will speak with them again to make sure they understand how this league will operate," Tepper said.

"It's easier if everyone understands the parameters for marketing and promotions up front. I'm not interested in musical franchises. I want everyone to realize what they're getting into."

Baltimore, which lost its indoor team last week when the MSL folded, could now have two teams. A group of investors put together by former Blast coach Kenny Cooper has applied for membership in the National Professional Soccer League, which plays from November through April. That application is expected to be approved Monday.

Asked if he saw problems with Baltimore having two indoor soccer teams playing from November through July, Neil said he didn't.

"I don't see it as competition," Neil said. "They'll be playing with NPSL rules, we'll be playing with the familiar MSL rules and we'll be totally local. My feeling is, God bless Kenny Cooper and the NPSL. If they do well, we'll do well."

Neil also said he will begin discussions with the Baltimore Arena for playing dates within the next week.

Indoor soccer leagues at a glance

National Professional Soccer League

What: Formed as the American Indoor Soccer Association in 1984, it changed its named to the NPSL last year. A non-union league, it had a salary cap of about $120,000 per team last season.

When: Each team plays a 40-game schedule, November through March. Six teams qualify for the playoffs in April.

Where: Buffalo, N.Y., became the league's 10th team this past spring. Other cities with franchises are Canton, Ohio; Chicago; Dayton, Ohio; Detroit; Harrisburg, Pa.; Rockford, Ill.; Kansas City, Milwaukee and Tulsa, Okla.

Arena Soccer League

What: Ed Tepper, who co-founded the Major Indoor Soccer League, has organized the Arena league, which is scheduled to begin play next spring. Rosters are to be filled with local players from colleges in each team's region. A franchise costs $20,000 and players are paid $200 to $250 per game.

When: Games will be played from May through July, on Thursday nights. Each team will play five home and five away games.

Where: Franchises have been awarded in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York, Richmond, Va., and Providence, R.I. Organizers want at least 10 teams, and prospective cities include Atlanta, Miami, Winston-Salem, N.C., Jacksonville, Fla., and Orlando, Fla.

Continental Indoor Soccer League

What: Another fledgling league, it is scheduled to begin play next summer. Organized by Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss, it is attractive to owners of NBA arenas who are looking to fill summer dates.

When: A summer schedule is planned, with dates to be announced.

Where: Former Major Soccer League cities that are said to be possibilities for the new league are Dallas, San Diego and Cleveland. Los Angeles, Phoenix and Sacramento are NBA cities already in the CISL fold, and a total of 10 franchises are planned.

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