Pittsburgh will return to the Major Soccer League on Monday after a five-year absence, giving the league an eighth member to replace the Dallas Sidekicks, who ceased operations two weeks ago and are seeking new investors.
The official announcement of Pittsburgh as an expansion team for the 1991-92 season will come at 11 a.m. at a news conference in Pittsburgh that will be attended by the team's president, Bernie Mullen, and MSL commissioner Earl Foreman.
Mullen is a former executive vice president for the Pittsburgh Pirates and heads Pittsburgh Soccer Inc., the group that will own the franchise.
The Pittsburgh Spirit dropped out of the then-Major Indoor Soccer League in 1986 after seven seasons.
Foreman said last night that a contest will be held to name the Pittsburgh franchise.
The MSL commissioner said the team would be stocked by an expansion draft from the current seven teams. There has been speculation that each team would be able to protect eight players in the draft.
Foreman said that after the news conference he will concentrate on completing the details that would make Buffalo an expansion team for the 1991-92 season.
Foreman said he hopes to have Buffalo join the league soon enough that it can conduct an expansion draft at the same time as Pittsburgh.
In a related MSL matter, league director of communications John Griffin said last night that the MSL would lean toward adding the franchises in larger cities (Milwaukee Wave, Chicago Power, Detroit Rockers and Atlanta Attack) from the National Professional Soccer League if there were a "consolidation" of the two indoor leagues.
Griffin said that even though the Canton Invaders, Dayton Dynamo and Hershey Impact have been strong franchises, those cities don't have large enough arenas to play in the MSL.
Foreman and Baltimore Blast owner Ed Hale are meeting with NPSL commissioner Steve Paxos in two weeks to discuss which of the nine NPSL teams might be added to the MSL.
Hale has said he favors inviting all nine teams.