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CMISL- Calgary v. Edmonton - March 18th (R)


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Just got back from tonights game, Calgary won game one 4-0, Edmonton won game two 3-0, and then Calgary won the shootout 3-2. Attendance was announced as 3,730, which as I was guessing ~3,500 could have been actual or quite close to it.

The game itself I very much enjoyed, and I'll be sure to go back if there are more games. Quality of play was pretty good all things considered... obviously wasn't as much skill on display as the NPSL days of yore, but considering these are amateurs and only been practicing for a couple weeks I very much enjoyed it.

About my only complaint about the evening, and some may call me a grumpy old man of 26, but the music during the pre-game and intermissions was excessively loud, to the point of being uncomfortable... but that is easily correctable.

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Drillers' boss buoyed by modest early success

Pro indoor soccer league president hearing pitches from eastern Canada about fielding teams for November startup

Dan Barnes, The Edmonton Journal

Published: Monday, March 19, 2007

EDMONTON -- It was not a particularly bold first step, by any means.

But the brains and bucks behind the return of professional indoor soccer to Edmonton did not have the rug pulled out from under them Sunday night.

An enthusiastic crowd of 3,730 fans, about 2,500 of whom actually paid for their tickets, greeted the latest incarnation of the Edmonton Drillers at Rexall Place. Strangely enough, the local heroes made their season debut and took their final bows in the same unusual night. They split a double-header against Calgary United, losing the opener 4-0 and rebounding for a 3-0 win, in what organizers had labelled a showcase event. It was a one-off, in essence a tiny taste of what's to come when - though some skeptics would still say if - the Canadian Major Indoor Soccer League speeds up its business plan and cobbles together a regular-season schedule to begin play in November.

The modest successes here Sunday and last weekend in Calgary, where the Drillers acted as the opponent for another double-header in front of 1,850 fans at the Stampede Corral, has league organizers and four team owners suddenly chomping at the bit. Nobody sounds more enthusiastic than Drillers' boss Brent Saik.

"I'm ecstatic," he said. "It's pretty cool to see how well it was received. I'm excited for next season."

The 38-year-old optometrist and philanthropist has dabbled in baseball and hockey events, holding games to benefit charities, but he's a complete neophyte in the beautiful game. In this city, and many others in Canada, soccer is a gamble indoors and out, but his turned out just fine. Saik said he and his business partners will basically break even on a $100,000 investment, and he's raring to go bigger by November. It's his plan to have six home double-headers, and go on the road for six more dates spread between the remaining CMISL cities of Calgary, Winnipeg and Saskatoon. If an expansion team or two jump on board, he figures the more the merrier.

League president Mel Kowalchuk, who is apparently entertaining expansion pitches from six eastern Canadian teams, said he'll pitch Saik's fast-tracked plan to other team owners, but he's only 50 per cent sold on a November startup. And his best guess for next season, if there is one, would be five or six teams.

The original business plan called for at least one more showcase season before they got serious about a conventional league. They were determined to go slow, even if it meant disappearing off the edge of the sporting map for many months at a time.

Whatever happens now, there will have to be serious changes made, particularly in Edmonton where venue costs are a killer. The rent on Rexall Place totalled about $30,000, more than all three other venues combined. That meant ticket prices in Edmonton easily topped those in the other three cities and must have had an impact on the crowd. Kowalchuk wanted to host this event at the AgriCom, which is far smaller and more affordable, but it's under construction and may well be closed even in November. That means the Drillers could be playing in St. Albert or Sherwood Park, at least to open their season. If they decide to have one, of course.

There are still more questions about this wacky idea than there are answers, but at least they are out of the gate.

"It's been fun getting back out there," said 35-year-old Martin Dugas, one of five old Drillers to reappear on Sunday's roster. "The fun is still there. The legs take a little bit longer to come back."

They haven't had many practices but they are rounding into form. The same can be said of the league itself.

"It's good that we got it off the ground," said Kowalchuk. "The costs have been a little more than anybody expected. Even I'm surprised at some of the things that jumped up and bit us. But the crowd here is pretty decent. You can't complain about that."

Yes, the CMISL is halfway through its so-called showcase season and the roof hasn't fallen in on anybody yet. In the minefield that is minor-league sports, that's called success. Kowalchuk said a crowd of 3,000 is expected when the Drillers play the Accelerators in Saskatoon March 23 and there should be at least 4,000 fans to watch the Drillers April 1 against the Alliance in Winnipeg. The enthusiasm is apparently spreading.

"We had a couple people call to say they want to be season-ticket holders," said Calgary owner Chris Baker. "We don't have season tickets yet."

What they have is a modest beginning and a major amount of work to be done.



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quote:Originally posted by jonovision

Is that the same turf as was used in Calgary? If not, it's just as ugly.

Yeah, it had to be the same stuff.

I'm sure they're just trying to cut costs wherever possible, but maybe they should have spent a little bit more on the turf, cause that Frankensteined stuff was a bad idea.

It's bad enough that it makes them look bush league, but it was coming apart all over the place last night... I hope it makes they make it through the four games without someone getting hurt because of it.

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