PARK CITY — It didn't take very long to fill the indoor soccer void after the demise of the second incarnation of the Wichita Wings before a new team came along.
The Wichita B-52s will fill that void. The announcement came at a press conference Thursday at Hartman Arena.
The team will be owned and operated by Joseph Pindell, 25, a St. Louis native. Pindell most recently worked as the marketing and ticketing vice president for the Texas vs. the Nation football game. He also worked as an account executive with the St. Louis Rams of the NFL.
"I'm passionate about going down this path with everyone," Pindell said. "... There's a lot to be done. We're looking to create competitive soccer entertainment for families, friends, co-workers, and a place to come to enjoy your Friday, Saturday night, or having a calm Sunday night with the family. We're looking to community involvement — giving back."
The head coach is Larry Inlow, a former player for the original Wichita Wings. He also played professionally for the Mississippi Beach Kings, Ft. Lauderdale Thundercats and San Diego Sockers. Inlow operates the PROSoccer Store, served as a firefighter and EMT in Wichita and coached an amateur indoor team, the Wichita Gunners.
"This team should represent the overwhelming diversity that this community offers," Inlow said. "It should represent our local talent, and that's what we're going to go after. There are quite a few established professional soccer players in town, and they are on our radar. I'm excited about holding tryouts to find that untapped talent. That one player that's flown under the radar, who has that chance to blow everyone away."
The team will play a 16-game regular-season schedule in the Professional Arena Soccer League, and also will compete in the U.S. Indoor Open Cup, an indoor tournament for both amateur and professional teams.
"This is a fantastic soccer market," PASL commissioner Kevin Millikin said. "We haven't even had our formal press conference and announcement, but we had more hits on our Wichita Facebook page than anybody else in our league. That shows the support in Wichita is fantastic."
The PASL is an offshoot of the amateur Premier Arena Soccer League, which has been in operation for about 16 years. The pro division is beginning its sixth season. The league will have 20 teams this season, which begins in November. It has several major rules that differ from the Major Indoor Soccer League, which the Wings played in — goals are worth just one point; there is a two-minute team penalty for every six fouls in a period; no slide tackling is allowed (slides are allowed to block shots and passes, as well as to shoot the ball).
Page 2 of 2 - "Compared to the (MISL), we average about 18 fouls a game and they average about 40," Millikin said. "The PASL game is quicker and faster and higher scoring. We average about five goals a game more. It's very exciting.
Players are paid on a per-game basis, similar to indoor football. While there is no salary cap, Millikin said there is a luxury tax threshold of $3,000 per game. Team can carry 20 active players and can suit 14 per game.
"We've been around for a while, so I like to say that we put the legs under the table before we put in the table," Millikin said. "We have more players and referees than you can imagine, because we've been developing for so long."
"I'm looking for someone to show up every day, and by every day, that's training and practice, and put in the effort needed for the guy standing next to him," Inlow said. "... I imagine there's going to be a large variety of skill sets. Those who have never kicked a professional ball, those coming out of college to those who have kicked a professional ball for some time."
Millikin said there were three all-league players under 21 last season. He said one team, the Turlock Express had just three players over 25.
While Wichita indoor pro teams have held youth camps, they have never had youth developmental or academy teams. Millikin said the PASL will be mandating a youth program in the future.
While the team will have a short time to be assembled, Inlow is confident he can put together a competitive team.
"There is a little bit of giddy-up in our pace right now," Inlow said. "We're not going to put anything in rush mode above quality. We're going to bring everything we can to the table for the Wichita community. We definitely have our strategic plan, and we're going to follow it."
Season tickets will range from $90 to $180 per game. Single-game tickets will range from $9 to $25. Season tickets are now on sale. Although opponents have not been set, the B-52s will have seven Saturday dates, one Friday and one Sunday afternoon. The home opener is scheduled for Nov. 9.
The team's Facebook page is up. The team's Web site is expected to be up in the next 10 days.