Another Blast From The Past
I was pleasantly surprised to see this photo as one in a slideshow attached to this Indianapolis Star story about the return of pro soccer to Central Indiana today.
(Yep, that’s me, in early 1998, pointing out the place on the jerseys of Mark Phillips and Steve Weiger where we hoped to put a sponsor logo that never panned out. Man, I was skinny then.)
Nine years after the Indiana Blast played its final game (in the PDL, after five years in the then-A-League and two before that in the D3 Pro League), someone’s going to give pro soccer in Indianapolis another shot. Hopefully my man Peter Wilt, who’s been heading up the feasibility study on this thing, will get to run the show. If he does, it has a much better chance of success than the Blast did, if for no other reason than Peter understands that tickets don’t just sell themselves.
A lot has changed, both in Indianapolis and American soccer, since I left the Blast in July 2000. (The reporter who wrote this particular story isn’t one of them – David Woods covered us a bit back in the day.) The viability of professional soccer – even at lower levels – is much less of a crapshoot than it was then. Some franchises have shown they can get fans excited for a local team, even if it doesn’t play at the highest level. And seemingly every lower-level team can play the “We hope to be in MLS one day” card – as this group is apparently doing, too.
I could write a book (which no one would read) about everything we did wrong with the Blast. I’ve told Peter many of these things (not that he needed my advice to avoid them, many of them were basic), and I figure they will be much more professionally-run and successful than we were (assuming they’re better funded than we were, which they’d almost have to be).
Long-term, everything hinges on them finding a good place to play, I feel. Kuntz Stadium (our old haunt) was barely adequate in 1999, and the other potential temporary venues have their issues. If they have as much trouble as we had acquiring land and funding for a soccer-specific stadium, they’ll be added to the (short, but distinguished) list that includes the Blast, the Twisters and the Daredevils, all of whom came and went in fairly short order. (Note: this unscientific poll on the Indianapolis Business Journal‘s site shows some support, but an alarming percentage of people who don’t see themselves going to games.)
So good luck, PW. I’m pulling for you.
Just, please, please, please, don’t call the team “Racing Indianapolis.” I beg of you.