After years of asking for it, the Blast is finally going to get to host its first Major Soccer League All-Star Game in 1992.
And Kansas City, which is the host of the MSL All-Star event this Feb. 10-13, will also host the 1991 College All-Star Showcase game and MSL draft at the same time.
It is the first time both events will be held together.
"It is a significant achievement for the franchise," said veteran All-Star Dale Mitchell, who joined the Blast this season. "They are exciting games and I think the fans in Baltimore will enjoy it. It seems a little strange, given the Blast's great history, that they haven't had one before. You would have thought the league would have been pushing for it to be here, given the success of this franchise."
But always something got in the way. An ego here, a promise to a new franchise there, a compromise to save a lagging franchise somewhere else.
But now, because the league wants to have the college draft early in the year to avoid some of the problems associated with the summer draft, the Blast was finally able to use its leverage to get the MSL All-Star package here.
The College Showcase has traditionally been held in June or July. But it has not been a completely satisfactory arrangement. MSL coaches have complained that players in the game already have made decisions about their future. And college players complain it is difficult to wait for the MSL draft, when other leagues draft earlier and employment opportunities in their fields of study already have been offered.
So the MSL made the official announcement yesterday afternoon, after successfully concluding negotiations among Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City and the Intercollegiate Soccer Athletic Association.
The deal, which was first reported in The Evening Sun Dec. 3, means the Blast is giving up the final two years of its three-year agreement to host the College All-Star Showcase and draft in July 1992 and 1993.
That enables Kansas City to host the pro and college package in 1991.
In return, the Blast gets the entire package in 1992. And Cleveland, which had been promised the 1992 MSL All-Star Game, agrees to host the 1993 package instead.
"I think it will be a great thing for our fans," said Blast owner Ed Hale. "I'm glad we pushed for it."
Blast defender Bruce Savage, who has been in six straight All-Star games, was delighted by the news.
"Our franchise has done so much for the league, and our fans have been so supportive, we deserve to have the All-Star Game," Savage said. "I think it's great the college all-star game is being played at the same time, too, because I've never seen one, and think it must be great fun to watch."
Savage said he has seen how excited players get in the MSL All-Star Game, when they are playing in front of their hometown fans.
"I think they get much more pumped up," he said. "I think it would be super to play in that game in front of our fans."