Hale to push for MSL schedule changes

SOCCER

February 10, 1991|By BILL FREE

Baltimore Blast owner Ed Hale said last week that he will propose scheduling changes in the Major Soccer League that would have the most far-reaching effects in the 13-year history of the league.

Hale said his proposals will come Tuesday at the league meetings in Kansas City, Mo., and would result in "37 changes that will make the product less diluted and more action-packed."

Hale would not be specific about the changes except to say they would "affect every aspect of league operations."

Hale is chairman of the MSL player relations committee and a member of the league expansion committee. He also led the way last summer in getting the league to adopt a regular-season schedule that ends early in April instead of late in April.

The change in the regular-season schedule would enable the playoffs to end early in May instead of early in June.

"There is going to be a lot happening at these meetings," said Hale. "But I can't talk about it because all the other league owners don't know yet what I'm going to propose."

Hale has said often since buying the Blast on Sept. 15, 1989, that the league has to upgrade its image around the country.

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The MSL meetings begin tomorrow and continue through Wednesday morning.

The meetings will be conducted around Wednesday's MSL All-Star Game, Tuesday's MSL College Indoor Soccer Showcase game and the MSL collegiate draft, which also is on Wednesday.

The All-Star festivities will revolve around an All-Stars and Stripes theme in honor of the U.S. armed forces in the Persian Gulf.

The MSL will dedicate the event to honor Americans serving in Operation Desert Storm and pay tribute to their families at home.

Military dependents will be guests of the Kansas City Comets at the game.

The first 10,000 fans to arrive will receive placards of the American flag.

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Bernie Mullen, former executive vice president of the Pittsburgh Pirates, heads a group of prospective owners for a possible MSL expansion team for Pittsburgh.

Mullen has filed with MSL commissioner Earl Foreman a "rough copy" of an application to join the MSL, and Mullen will attend the league meetings this week.

Pittsburgh has joined Buffalo, N.Y., as the cities closest to becoming MSL expansion franchises.

Foreman was in Buffalo last week to meet with Mayor Jim Griffin and two prospective groups of owners from that city.

Foreman had hoped to have Buffalo or Pittsburgh officially in the league for 1991-92 by this week's league meetings.

However, Foreman said last week he will have to return to Buffalo later for more meetings.

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Blast coach Kenny Cooper said jokingly last week in reference to the dislike for Billy Ronson by opposing players around the MSL: "Billy might need a bodyguard at the All-Star Game. I might have trouble finding a roommate for him. He might have to room with me."

Ronson, who is having a career-best scoring season, was snubbed by the players for a second straight season in the All-Star voting.

However, Cooper named Ronson to his first All-Star berth. Cooper will coach the East squad in the game.

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