Bays moving indoors for fall/winter league USISL team to play at Du Burns Arena SOCCER


The Baltimore Bays are going indoors.

After finishing 5-11 in the U.S. Interregional Soccer League's outdoor season and missing the playoffs, the Bays are planning for an indoor season that will run from mid-November through February.

With what coach Kevin Healey calls "pretty much the same team we had this summer," the Bays will play "about 16 games" against a division of USISL teams yet to be determined.

Outdoor Atlantic Division opponents Greensboro (N.C.), Charleston (S.C.) and Delaware are possibilities. So are Philadelphia, Boston and New York, Healey said, because "the league is expanding into some big markets."

The Bays will play home games at Du Burns Arena in Canton. Seating capacity is 600, with standing room for another 200.

"We'll try to sell 600 season tickets, then on game days put 200 standing-room tickets on sale," said Bays general manager Ben Neil. "We're anticipating sellouts at Du Burns."

The Bays didn't come close to selling out UMBC Stadium, capacity 4,500, during the outdoor season that ended for them with a 3-2 loss to Richmond last week. Thanks in part to their largest crowd of the season, 1,754 for Richmond, the Bays totaled 10,099 for eight home games -- an average of 1,262.

"We entered our first season with expectations of breaking even," Neil said, declining to divulge specific financial figures. "We exceeded that and made a marginal profit. We're happy with that.

"We paid our league fees over four months instead of 12 so that we wouldn't have any financial obligations when we went indoors. We're all paid up now until the outdoor season next year."

In finishing seventh in the nine-team Atlantic Division, the Bays played 12 one-goal games. All five of their victories were by a goal.

"It's a good sign for the league that so many games were close," Healey said. "They want parity. Teams that didn't make the playoffs were knocking off playoff teams regularly."

Tarik Walker led the Bays with 11 points despite missing the last two games with chickenpox, and Sam Mangione led in assists with six. Walker, a graduate of Good Counsel High in Wheaton and Virginia Tech, was chosen by the Baltimore Spirit in this week's National Professional Soccer League draft.

"With the Spirit and us both playing indoors, the top players in this area will have two options," Healey said."

Healey admitted he was disappointed with the team's record and attributed it to mental mistakes and defensive lapses.

"We're a new team and we still have to build cohesiveness," Healey said. "You do that only by working and practicing together and learning each other's idiosyncrasies. The indoor season will help in that respect."

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