Without investors, Sockers may fold

June 04, 1991|By Bill Free

The owner of the San Diego Sockers announced yesterday that he had been unable to find investors to buy his majority interest in the seven-time MSL champions, and that he will close the team's offices June 30 if new investors are not found.

Ron Fowler's decision comes 11 days after the Sockers won their fourth straight title. He offered to stay on as a minority owner.

If no one in San Diego buys Fowler's majority interest in the team, the Sockers either will be moved to another city or fold.

Fowler cited growing business ventures as taking too much of his time away from running the franchise. He also expressed disappointment over the team's declining attendance in the 1990-91 season (down to 7,800 average from 8,131 in 1989-90).

The prospect of the MSL's premier team on the field folding or being moved hurts the image of the league.

Two months ago, the Dallas Sidekicks ceased operations under Phil Cobb, and new owners are being sought for that franchise.

However, the MSL gained an expansion team last month when Pittsburgh rejoined after a five-year absence.

Commissioner Earl Foreman attended the news conference held by Fowler in San Diego yesterday and said he was working with three prospective groups to replace Fowler.

"Two of the groups want to keep the team in San Diego, and one of them wants to move the team," said Foreman.

"I believe there's as much a chance that the team will move out [of San Diego] as it will stay. I know a lot of people in San Diego are shaken up by this decision. There's a mass meeting of ticket-holders at the San Diego Sports Arena this week, and that might get someone moving in the right direction to buy Fowler's majority share."

Foreman said he hopes to have an announcement concerning the Sockers' future by June 15.

Baltimore Blast owner Ed Hale, a close friend of Fowler's, said last night that he was disappointed to see him leave as majority owner.

"But I think the team will stay in San Diego," said Hale. "It's just that Ron Fowler's main businesses [beer distributorships in Florida and Europe] are off because of the economy. He's fallen on some hard times."

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