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Edm Sun: NorL team moving forward (Soccer Content)


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NorL team moving forward


After sorting through an abundance of red-tape proceedings, Edmonton's Northern League team officially has a home. And up next, perhaps as early as this week, the expansion entry will be set to pick its nickname and welcome its first on-field manager.

Mel Kowalchuk's ball club will move into Telus Field on a five-year contract with the city that includes a five-year option. The agreement contains a $10,000 base rent, plus an additional 50 cents for every walk-up ticket sold and $1 per car in the stadium lot.

Kowalchuk and team owner Dan Orlich hadn't bugeted for paying rent but accepted the terms with the city.

"That was the biggest thing and we had some difficulty with it but we understand," said Kowalchuk. "It actually is a very fair lease."

The city may soon have to find a new name for the park. The naming rights agreement between Telus and the Trappers expires Oct. 31 and speculation exists that Telus may not be interested in reacquiring the rights. Kowalchuk believes that city officials forced a rent on his club because the Trappers often received Telus Field rent-free and the city is still reeling from the downfall of the Edmonton Aviators.

Up next for Kowalchuk is picking the team name for the NorL squad and introducing his selection for manager to town.

"We verbally have a deal in place and we're ready to sign a contract," said Kowalchuk. "We had seven people who were interested in the job and we are very pleased with who we got."

Kowalchuk wouldn't reveal the name, but one possible candidate is former Trappers manager Garry Templeton, who guided the triple-A affiliate of the Anaheim Angels to a 63-78 mark in 2000. Templeton's deal with the NorL's Gary-Southshore Railcats was not renewed at the end of the 2004 season after he assembled a 67-119 record with the club over two seasons.

Also on the slate when Orlich arrives in Edmonton is the pair pursuing the possibility of purchasing the Aviator women's soccer team. Although Edmonton FC boss and avid soccer activist Joe Petrone would love to have Kowalchuk and Orlich put up the bucks to run the men's team as well, Kowalchuk isn't budging on his own plan.

"Joe must not like me too much," laughed Kowalchuk over Petrone's hope. "Perhaps down the road, but it is not on our radar right now.

"If we did get involved it would be for the women's team only and only if Joe is involved. The stuff that Joe has done with soccer here has been incredible and he's often painted in the wrong light. Every time soccer has failed, all the fingers are pointed at Joe but he has to be the driving force because he is so passionate about making soccer work."

Kowalchuk's best season in the world of soccer was the fourth year at the helm of the Edmonton Brickmen when that franchise lost a mere $160,000 in the long-gone Canadian Soccer League. Despite the losses, the Brickmen were the second-best financial success in the CSL.

"If we do buy the ladies team, it would be as first-class as we can do it," added Kowalchuk.


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