An all-out campaign will begin Jan. 6 to enlist more local business and corporate support for the Baltimore Blast, owner Ed Hale announced yesterday.
Hale said the campaign would be headed by the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and the state Department of Economic and Employment Development, with Donald Hutchinson and C. A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger III serving as co-chairmen.
Hutchinson is executive director of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, and Ruppersberger is a member of the Blast business council, as well as a 3rd District Baltimore County councilman.
Hale said a kickoff reception for the campaign would be held Jan. 6 at the Bank of Baltimore. The Blast owner said that Gov. William Donald Schaefer and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke are scheduled to attend the reception.
"Out of 3,000 season tickets we sold this season, only 220 went to the business community," said Hale, whose team losses last season came close to $650,000. "I don't know why that is, but it is the way it is."
Hale said this is not a save-the-Blast campaign.
"I just don't want the Baltimore-area business community to take the Blast for granted," he said.
Ruppersberger said that Hale can't be asked to take huge financial losses season after season.
"In order for the soccer team to be successful, we need the support of the business community," he said. "I don't think the business community has recognized soccer as a sport. They don't realize the economic impact the Blast has on the community. I believe the Blast is a must for the business community."
Blast coach Kenny Cooper said he and the team were virtually snubbed a couple of weeks ago by the Greater Baltimore Committee during a meeting he attended.
"Ed asked me to represent him at the meeting," said Cooper. "And it was sad for me as the coach to sit there and hear all the things they were willing to do for the Orioles and to bring a National Football League team here, but not one mention was made of the Blast."
NOTES: Hale said yesterday that he dropped out of the running to own an NFL expansion team in Baltimore when the price tag reached $200 million. "I don't have the money, and I can't ask my friends to come up with that much," he said. Hale said he has not been asked directly by Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass to help his group in its bid for an expansion team. . . . Domenic Mobilio (15 goals, 3 assists) was named the Blast's MVP for the first quarter (10 games) yesterday.