After nearly four decades at Royal Farms Arena, the Baltimore Blast are downsizing venues.
The team announced some details about its planned move to Towson University’s SECU Arena at a press conference today. The Baltimore Sun was the first to report the news, citing sources close to the team.
Team owner Ed Hale said he predicts the new venue will bring an “enhanced fan experience,” with better sight lines, cheaper concessions and free parking with tickets.
In explaining why they want to switch up their home field, he cited the experience from the team’s 2017 championship win over the Sonora Suns in Hermosillo, Mexico. The arena was packed to capacity with close to 12,000 fans, Hale said. “It was a zoo. It was loud, it was crazy, it was fun. That’s what we hope to replicate here.”
The Blast, Charm City’s impressively popular professional indoor soccer team, have been around since 1980. They began in the now-defunct Major Indoor Soccer League, winning one championship in their 12 years playing at what was then called the Baltimore Civic Center (until 1986) and Baltimore Arena (until 2003). When the team folded with the MISL in 1992, a new franchise called the Baltimore Spirit formed. Its owner renamed it as the Blast six years later.
In total, the Blast franchise has hung eight championship banners in Royal Farms Arena since 1992. This past season’s one was particularly thrilling, with the team becoming back-to-back champions of the Major Arena Soccer League.
Now the franchise may need to find a new place for all of those banners, as they’re moving from a roughly 11,300-capacity stadium to a venue with just 4,000 seats. Granted, it’ll make the games look more packed. The Blast averaged nearly 6,300 attendees in each of their 10 games during the 2016-17 season. While that’s a strong number in indoor soccer, it still meant plenty of empty seats at Royal Farms Arena.
Another big question is how the franchise will fit a regulation field at SECU Arena. The standard MASL pitch is 200 feet long and 85 feet wide, according to the Blast’s website, but the new field will be smaller.
The Blast released the above diagram to show how the arena will be laid out.
Coach Danny Kelly also announced at the presser that the team has resigned 10 players from last season’s squad, including co-captains William Vanzela and Tony Donatelli, and championship game MVPs Lucas Roque and Vini Dantas.
“The Blast are back, and we’re happy to be at SECU [Arena],” Kelly said.
This story has been updated with details from the team’s noon press conference.
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