In a move designed to strengthen the National Professional Soccer League as well as the franchise, the Dynamo, after eight years in Dayton, is moving to Cincinnati.
The current Dynamo organization will join forces with the International Hockey League's Cincinnati Cyclones, whose attendance (8,301) and marketing success are among the best in minor-league hockey.
The Cyclones will have controlling interest in the Dynamo, which will be renamed and play at the 10,326-seat Cincinnati Gardens. The Dynamo's attendance this season of 3,226 ranked 10th in the 12-team league.
"We're moving to Cincinnati to retain professional indoor soccer in southwestern Ohio," said Dynamo president Richard Chernesky. "We combined with the Cyclones because of their outstanding track record in sales and promotions."
Spirit attendance dips
The Spirit's average attendance for 20 home dates dropped from 6,470 last season to 5,732, seventh in the league. In large part, vice president Drew Forrester says, the decline can be attributed to corporate season-ticket sales, which fell about 400 short of projections. Gate receipts were 6 percent below last year.
"We're not greatly concerned, because our payroll went up when we created three new sales positions, which paid off in increased group sales," Forrester said.
"But corporate sales were woefully short, despite the effort we put into it. We don't expect the kind of support the Orioles get -- eight, 10, 12 season tickets -- but we did expect some -- two or three, maybe. It surprises me we didn't get that."
MacWilliams shows mercy
Rather than run his players into the ground after three straight defeats just before the playoffs, Spirit coach Dave MacWilliams gave them Monday and yesterday off.
Normally, only Monday would have been a day off after a Sunday game. As reasons, MacWilliams cited the demanding second-half schedule brimming with road games, a rash of injuries and the need for the team to be mentally fresh.
"We took these couple of days off to re-energize," he said as he prepared the Spirit for its final two regular-season games, both on the road. They will be Friday against the St. Louis Ambush and Saturday against the Detroit Rockers.
Kevin Sloan, who leads the Spirit in goals and points and was named to the American Division squad for last month's All-Star Game, was voted the team's Offensive Player of the Year by coaches and officials.
Omid Namazi, who joined the team in December and has assumed the role of team captain, was named Defensive Player of the Year. The Mike Reynolds Trophy, named in memory of the late Blast player and given to the Unsung Hero, went to Joe Mallia, who is 12-4 as the No. 2 goalie. As the top rookie, Jamie Christie received the Anita Nall Award, named after the 1992 Olympic swimming medalist who graduated from Towson Catholic.
The Canton Invaders stopped their losing streak at 16 without even threatening the NPSL record established by Denver in 1992-93; it's 32. . . . The Rockers are hot, with seven straight wins that have moved them into fourth place ahead of the Wichita Wings in the National Division. The top four teams in the division qualify for the playoffs. . . . Ex-Spirit Michael King, now with the Milwaukee Wave, has tied the NPSL record of 12 three-pointers. The Cleveland Crunch's Hector Marinaro, who along with Detroit's Sean Bowers is second behind King with 11, set the record in 1992-93. . . . With an assist from his brother Randy, the Buffalo Blizzard's Rudy Pikuzinski, in his eighth season, became king of NPSL scorers with his 350th, one more than the retired Dan O'Keefe.