The Maryland Bays will be leaving Cedar Lane Park in Columbia and will play next season at the University of Maryland Baltimore County in Catonsville, the team's owner said yesterday.
John F. Liparini, a Columbia-based developer who is president of the American Professional Soccer League team, said he also has met with Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke to discuss the possibility of playing some non-league games at Memorial Stadium next season.
"There may be some opportunity for the Bays to play some exhibition games or contests against international teams in Memorial Stadium," Liparini said.
The team's owner said he will work with UMBC athletic officials later this month on a lease to play 10 home games from May through September at the UMBC stadium.
"They are going to have lights installed, and there is seating for 4,000. We would like to see 2,000 more seats added," said Liparini, who said the Bays "look to be there for at least three years."
To meet new APSL specifications for next season, the Bays must have a stadium that seats at least 6,000. As part of the agreement to hold the 1992 World Cup in the United States, FIFA, soccer's world governing body, mandated that the United States have a major pro soccer league by 1992.
The Bays had played at the UMBC stadium before moving to Cedar Lane Park two years ago, where the average attendance for eight home games this past season was about 3,000, Liparini said. The Bays were 19-2 in league play but were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
Bays assistant general manager Paul Marstaller said he doesn't see the team losing many fans with the move back to UMBC.
"Since we have been doing a professional job of marketing and building up a following the past two years, I doubt if we lose that many fans from Columbia, since it is only a 15-minute drive," said Marstaller.
Cedar Lane Park, which has a lighted field, "served its purpose while we were there, but it is in the middle of a residential community, and there was no way to make it our park," Liparini said.
Jeffrey A. Bourne, the county's recreation and parks director, said the county had reached an agreement with the Columbia neighborhoods to limit the rental of Cedar Lane Park to two years, and there was no other lighted playing field in the county
that would have been appropriate for the Bays.