The Baltimore Blast, along with five other former Major Indoor Soccer League teams, have reached an agreement to partner with teams from the Professional Arena Soccer League to create a new league that is expected to consist of 20-plus teams throughout North America.
The Milwaukee Wave, St. Louis Ambush, Missouri Comets, Rochester Lancers and Syracuse Silver Knights will join the Blast in the new league. All six franchises had their contracts with the United Soccer Leagues, which runs the MISL, expire last month after the 2013-14 season concluded.
The PASL has 20 teams, and it has yet to be determined how many of its franchises will join the new league. The storied San Diego Sockers and the Harrisburg Heat, a former rival of the Blast, have already committed to the new league.
Over the weekend, Blast owner Ed Hale met with management from the Missouri Comets and San Diego Sockers, along with PASL founder and commissioner Kevin Milliken, to form a holding company for the new entity. Hale said the next step is "corralling" the rest of the interested franchises.
"It was a big step, and I'm really happy and excited about the progress that has been made," Hale said. "It's been like a meeting of the minds, but there's still a lot of things to work out. By May, we'll have a better idea what this will look like."
A meeting is scheduled in Baltimore in mid-May to further iron out details, including the name for the league, the franchises participating, divisions within the league, and bylaws. The 2014-15 season, which will be the 34th straight in Baltimore, will consist of a 20-game regular season with expanded playoffs.
Hale had previously said that he wanted the Blast to compete in a larger league with more "national scope" than the MISL.
When the Blast's contract expired with the USL, it voided all indivudual player contracts. However, Blast general manager Kevin Healey said the players have been assured by management that all agreements will be honored moving forward.
"We've talked with all our players that we're honoring all our contracts at this point," Healey said. "The contracts were signed under the USL, so once everything gets re-established [with a new league], then we'll have to get the players to sign another contract. But we're honoring all the agreements we have."
Healey said he didn't have any concern that players may consider joining other teams since they are currently not under contract.
"We have a good organization and people like to play here," he said. "We take care of our players. People will want to play for the Blast, and our players will want to return to play here."