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NPSL folds, but Blast is 1 of 8 teams in new league

The Blast will play its indoor soccer this winter in a new league with a familiar name.

Coinciding with the dissolution of the 17-year-old National Professional Soccer League, the launch of the new Major Indoor Soccer League was announced by commissioner Steve Ryan at a news conference yesterday in Milwaukee.

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The new league will be owned by individual team operators who each hold a financial stake in the league, a single-entity setup similar to that used by Major League Soccer and the Women's United Soccer Association. Among other things, players contract to play with the league, not individual teams.

Owners of eight NPSL franchises - Baltimore, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Harrisburg, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Detroit and Toronto - have indicated that they will invest in the MISL and obtain rights to operate league teams.

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But Detroit and Toronto will not participate in the new league until 2002-03. Two other former NPSL franchises - the Buffalo Blizzard and Wichita Wings - are not expecting to apply for membership.

"We believe the new MISL provides the best opportunity for professional indoor soccer across North America," Ryan said. "We are currently engaged in several conversations that we believe could elevate the game to a status never before achieved by any of the indoor soccer leagues."

Founding members have until Oct. 1 to invest in the league and apply to be team operators.

"The MISL has a high set of business and operating standards that must be met by member clubs," said Ryan, who took over as NPSL commissioner last year. "We now have a strong foundation of teams from which we can move forward, build and grow."

Blast general manager/head coach Kevin Healey said it's sometimes necessary to "take a step back before you can take a step forward." He added that having owners who are committed should lead to stability, and having a sound business plan should lead to good financial reports.

The original MISL, the first pro indoor soccer league in North America, operated from 1978 to 1992 with 32 different teams located in 26 cities, including Baltimore.


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