Ed Hale said yesterday that it is beginning to look as if a new carpet -- which will cost $80,000 -- may have to be purchased for the Baltimore Arena to meet Major Soccer League standards.
"It looks like nothing short of replacement of the carpet will satisfy the league," said the Blast owner, whose team will meet the Wichita Wings tonight at 8:35 at the Kansas Coliseum. "This thing is escalating. Now the players' association is being brought into it. They might file a grievance against us."
MSL commissioner Earl Foreman said Monday that he had sent a letter to the Blast "putting them on notice" about the problems with the carpet.
Foreman said there are ripples in the carpet, which "keeps coming up. I'm concerned about the safety of the players in the league."
However, Blast general manager John Borozzi said $30,000 has been spent on sewing the carpet in an attempt to bring it up to league standards.
Apparently, that wasn't enough to satisfy MSL referees Toros Kibritjian and Julio Salas, who inspected the carpet last Saturday night.
Kibritjian was supposed to file a report with Foreman this week, and Borozzi said Kibritjian didn't seem pleased with the condition of the carpet.
Borozzi said yesterday that "a player or more than one has informally or formally made an inquiry to John Kerr [director of the MSL Players Association] about our carpet. I don't know exactly what it is. I have a call in to Earl Foreman to find out what's going on."
Foreman was preparing for a trip to Zurich, Switzerland, with the St. Louis Storm for an indoor tournament and could not be reached for comment.
MSL director of communications John Griffin said that, as far as he knows, there has been no formal inquiry filed by a player with the players' association.
Borozzi said the logistics of putting a new carpet in place at the Arena would be a bigger problem than the cost.
"We would need a lot of open dates so we could cut and paint the new carpet and put it in place at the Arena," Borozzi said. "It can't be cut at another place and then put down at the Arena because you have to see how much it shrinks on the ice to prevent problems like we have now."
Hale said: "I would have liked all this to be straightened out with Centre Management [which took over ownership of the carpet last summer], Earl Foreman and the Players Association before going this far."
NOTES: The Blast's TWA flight to Wichita, scheduled at 5:15 p.m. from Baltimore-Washington International Airport yesterday, never came off due to engine problems. So the team switched flights, taking a USAir plane to Kansas City at 8 p.m. After arriving in Kansas City, the team faced a four-hour bus ride to Wichita and was scheduled to arrive at 2 a.m.