Major Soccer League commissioner Earl Foreman said yesterday that a major investor has withdrawn from a Pittsburgh group that is attempting to put together an MSL expansion franchise for the 1991-92 season.
Foreman said the loss of that major investor has slowed down the timetable for an official announcement that Pittsburgh will join the eight-team league.
"I hope and I believe that in 60 days we'll have a report from our directors (MSL board of directors) that Pittsburgh is in the MSL," said Foreman. "We're looking at the same time period for Buffalo, N.Y. We do not have applications from either city right now, but my judgment tells me the chances are good both cities are coming in."
Foreman said the Pittsburgh group has a representative (former Pittsburgh Pirates executive vice president Bernie Mullen) at the three-day meetings that are being conducted in conjunction with the 12th MSL All-Star Game.
The Eastern Division All-Stars, directed by Blast coach Kenny Cooper, will meet the Western Division All-Stars, guided by San Diego Sockers coach Ron Newman, tomorrow at 8:35 p.m. at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo.
The Blast will be represented by defender Bruce Savage, goalkeeper Scott Manning, midfielder Billy Ronson and forwards Domenic Mobilio and Dale Mitchell.
Kansas City Comets owner Chris Clouser said yesterday that 12,100 tickets have been sold for tomorrow night's All-Star Game. The capacity for Kemper Arena is 15,800.
Foreman also said yesterday after the first day of the MSL meetings in Kansas City that Orlando, Fla., has surfaced as a potential expansion city for the league.
The commissioner said that the MSL expansion franchise fee is $250,000.
With attendance down throughout most of the league this season, Foreman was asked if he had assurances from all eight of the current members of the MSL that they were coming back next season.
"We haven't had a reason to ask if they're coming back," said Foreman. "As far as I know, everybody will be back. I can say right now that the St. Louis Storm will show an appreciable increase in attendance over last year."
Other topics covered yesterday in the first day of meetings were: possible outdoor play by some of the MSL teams this summer, future participation in indoor tournaments in Europe, the role the MSL will play in the formation of a major professional outdoor league in the U.S. in 1992 and better scheduling of road games for MSL teams in an attempt to cut down travel costs.
Blast owner Ed Hale, known for his desire to get things done quickly, called yesterday's meetings "a fluff day."
Hale said he will propose a shortened schedule for the MSL today, reducing the season from the current 52 games to as little as 36 games.
"I'm proposing 46-, 44-, 40- and 36-game schedules in hopes that we can agree on some number that will make play less diluted and more action-packed," said Hale.