Lively Tales About Dead Teams

1994-1996 Minnesota Moose

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1995-96 Minnesota MooseInternational Hockey League (1994-1996)

Born: December 16, 1993 – IHL expansion franchise.
Died: 1996 – The Moose relocate to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Arenas:

Team Colors: Dark Purple, Forest Green & Black

Owners: Kevin MacLean & Roger Sturgeon

 

The Minnesota Moose were a high-caliber minor league hockey team that played two seasons in the Twin Cities shortly after the departure of the NHL’s Minnesota North Stars for Dallas in 1993.  The Moose played out of the Saint Paul Civic Center, but also played 14 dates at the Target Center in Minneapolis during their second and final season.

The Moose’ debut game in St. Paul on October 7, 1994 – a 2-1 loss to the Milwaukee Admirals – attracted 11,652 fans.  Attendance dropped off quickly and the Moose finished the year ranked 12th in the 17-team International Hockey League with average crowds of 6,787 – a somewhat disconcerting result for an expansion team in what should have been its honeymoon phase.  On the plus side, the team’s fun, eye-catching logo was a big hit.  The Hockey News named the Minnesota Moose logo as the best in all of minor league hockey in February 1995 and the team would later claim an eye-popping $1.3 million in souvenir sales during their inaugural season.

Minnesota Moose IHLOn the ice, the Moose squeaked into the 1995 Turner Cup playoffs with  34-35-12 record.  They were swiftly dispatched by the eventual champion Denver Grizzlies in a three-game sweep in the first round.  Center Stephane Morin led the IHL in scoring with 38 goals and 71 assists.  The team’s big name was Minnesota native Dave Christian, a 14-year NHL veteran and member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey “Miracle On Ice” squad.  Christian finished second on the team in scoring with a 38-42-80 line.

In 1995 the City of St. Paul launched a courtship to persuade the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets to relocate to Minnesota.  The prospect of the NHL returning to the Twin Cities further eroded interest in the Moose.  Ultimately the Jets moved to Arizona instead, but the experience seemed to sap the enthusiasm of Moose ownership.  A few days after the Jets’ move to Phoenix was revealed in December 1995, the Moose announced a sale and relocation of their own – to Winnipeg, of all places, to replace the Jets at Winnipeg Arena.

The Moose played out their second and final season in Minnesota as lame ducks.  They missed the playoffs with a 30-45-7 record.

The franchise flourished in Winnipeg, lasting 15 seasons at the Manitoba Moose.  The team was displaced by the NHL (and the Jets!) once again in 2011 when the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg to become a revival of the Winnipeg Jets.  The hockey franchise that started out as the Minnesota Moose in 1995 to Newfoundland and plays on today as the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League.

 

==Minnesota Moose Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
10/5/1995  @ Los Angeles Ice Dogs ?? Program

 

==Links==

International Hockey League Media Guides

International Hockey League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

September 16th, 2014 at 3:10 am

January 24, 1987 – Los Angeles Strikers vs. Minnesota Strikers

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David Brcic Los Angeles LazersLos Angeles Lazers vs. Minnesota Strikers
January 24, 1987
The Forum
Attendance: 6,454

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs
32 pages

 

Two of the lesser lights from the old Major Indoor Soccer League met at The Forum in L.A. on this winter night in January 1987 when the Los Angeles Lazers hosted the Minnesota Strikers.  Both clubs were bankrolled by illustrious Major League team owners, with Dr. Jerry Buss (L.A. Lakers & Kings) backing the Lazers and Joe Robbie (Miami Dolphins) propping up the Strikers.

Whatever combination of business acumen or good fortune that led Buss and Robbie to collect NBA world championship and Super Bowl trophies, it never carried over to either man’s investments in pro soccer.  Buss’ Lazers routinely had the worst attendance in the MISL, but the real estate investor seemed content to fund the Lazers (and other minor arena sports at the Forum) as a sort of sports management academy for his children.  Robbie’s Strikers enjoyed some popularity as an outdoor soccer team in Fort Lauderdale in the late 1970′s, but the luster wore off when he moved the team to Minnesota and switched to the indoor game in 1984.  Robbie was bleeding millions in Minneapolis and was less able to stick things out in the MISL than Buss – Robbie’s resources were stretched by the need to privately finance the construction of Joe Robbie Stadium for the Dolphins in Miami.

Alan Willey Minnesota StrikersIn the first weeks of 1987, the Lazers were en route to their third last place finish in five years of existence.  Strangely, the team had never changed coaches, sticking with original hire Peter Wall even after a lifeless 13-35 campaign in 1985-86.  This match against Minnesota would turn out to be the night that finally cost Wall his job.  The Lazers had lost 13 of 16, including a humiliating shutout (the first in club history) the night before in Dallas.

Minnesota’s English sniper Alan Willey notched a hat trick in the first half as the Strikers leapt out to an early lead.  Chris Dangerfield, Hector Marinaro and Mike Jeffries piled on the second half and Minnesota won the game 6-4.  The Lazers dropped to 6-14 on the season and the Buss family finally relieved Wall a few days later.

Wall’s replacement, a recently retired player named Keith Tozer, would go on to become the all-time winningest coach in indoor soccer history.  But that winning wouldn’t benefit the Lazers much – the team never won another playoff game before folding in June of 1989.  The Strikers, meanwhile, went on to play in the MISL championship series in the spring of 1987 (their only good indoor season turned out to be a great one), but nearly folded anyway because of financial problems.  They ended up hanging on for one more season thanks to a “Save Our Strikers” season ticket campaign, but folded for good in June of 1988.

 

==Links==

Los Angeles Lazers Home Page

Minnesota Strikers Home Page

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Written by andycrossley

September 15th, 2014 at 3:14 am

1996-2004 Dallas Burn

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Dallas BurnMajor League Soccer (1996-2004)

Born: June 6, 1995 – MLS founding franchise.
Died:
August 2004 – Re-branded as FC Dallas.

Stadiums:

Team Colors: Red, Black & Green

Investor/Operator:

  • 1996-2002: Major League Soccer
  • 2003-2004: Hunt Sports Group (Lamar Hunt)

 

Not truly a defunct franchise, but rather an abandoned brand identity from the early years of Major League Soccer.  The Dallas Burn were one of 10 founding franchises for MLS in 1996.  The club plays on today as “FC Dallas” following a 2004 brand re-boot that preceded the opening of the team’s soccer-specific stadium, Pizza Hut Park, in 2005.

Dallas’ greatest accomplished during the Burn era (1996-2004) was to capture the U.S. Open Cup in 1997.  The Burn defeated defending Open Cups champs D.C. United on penalty kicks on October 29, 1997 at Carroll Stadium in Indianapolis.  In MLS play, the Burn qualified for the playoffs in each of their first seven seasons, but were knocked out in the opening round five times.  The Burn’s deepest playoff runs came in 1997 and 1999 under Head Coach Dave Dir, when they reached the MLS Cup semi-finals.

Off the field, the Burn were considered a weak point for MLS as the young league’s financial losses accumulated in the late 1990′s and early 2000′s.  At the end of MLS’ sixth season in 2001, the Burn were one of two franchises still owned directly by the league, along with the Tampa Bay Mutiny.  According to the Sports Business Journal, the Burn lost about $3M per year at this time and Dallas’ continued survival in the league depended on the willingness of other MLS team owners (still facing the substantial deficits of their own clubs) to continue underwriting the red ink.

When word got out that MLS was looking at contracting the 12-team league in late 2001, fans and media speculated that the Burn were a likely vicitim.  When the axe came down in January 2002, however, MLS chose to drop its two Florida franchises instead.

The franchise’s salvation and bottoming out happened more or less simultaneously in 2003.  After seven years as a ward of the league, Hunt Sports Group stepped to operate the team.  HSG, which already owned MLS’ Columbus Crew and Kansas City Wizards clubs, was headed by longtime soccer patron Lamar Hunt.  Hunt previously owned (and lost many millions on) the Dallas Tornado of the North American Soccer League from 1967 until 1981.  While the Hunts’ arrival gave the Burn a stable future, one of their first moves was to pull the team out of the Cotton Bowl and play the 2003 season at Dragon Stadium, a suburban high school stadium with artificial turf and no beer sales.  The move, intended to be temporary while the Burn worked on plans for a proper soccer stadium in Frisco, Texas, did not play well with fans generally and, specifically, helped to crater the club’s Hispanic fan base.

After one season at Dragon Stadium, and with the 2005 opening of Pizza Hut Park in Frisco on the horizon, the Burn pulled an about face and moved back to the Cotton Bowl for one final campaign in 2004.  Two-thirds of the way through the 2004 season, Hunt Sports Group announced the re-branding of the club as “FC Dallas” to coincide with the opening of Pizza Hut Park the following spring.

 

==Dallas Burn Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Year Date Opponent Score Program Other
2002 5/4/2002 @ MetroStars W 2-1 Program Game Notes
2004 6/5/2004 @ MetroStars W 2-0 Program Game Guide
2004 8/15/2004 @ MetroStars W 1-0 Program Game Notes

 

==Key Players==

  • Leonel Alvarez
  • Jason Kreis
  • Oscar Pareja
  • Hugo Sanchez

 

==In Memoriam==

Long-time Burn/FC Dallas midfielder and broadcaster Bobby Rhine died of a heart attach on September 5, 2011 at age 35.

 

==YouTube==

Highlights of the Burn’s 1997 U.S. Open Cup final victory over D.C. United. October 29, 1997.

 

Burn at Los Angeles Galaxy, June 4th, 1998.  Dallas 8-1 loss remains the record holder for most lopsided defeat in MLS history:

 

==Links==

Major League Soccer Media Guides

Major League Soccer Programs

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Written by andycrossley

September 14th, 2014 at 2:25 pm

2001 Baton Rouge Blue Marlins

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Baton Rouge Blue MarlinsAll-American Association (2001)

Born: 2001 – All-American Association founding franchise.
Died: Postseason 2001 – The Blue Marlins cease operations.

Stadium: Pete Goldsby Park

Team Colors:

Owner:

 

The Baton Rouge Blue Marlins were a deeply obscure independent pro baseball team that played in the doomed All-American Association during the summer of 2001.  Both the ball club and the league itself  folded at the end of one season.

The All-American Association was a six-team loop with teams in Albany (GA), Montgomery (AL), Winchester (TN) and Fort Worth and Tyler (TX) besides the Baton Rouge club.  The Blue Marlins did manage to win the first and only championship of the league in 2001, defeating the Albany Alligators.

The Blue Marlins were a flop at the box office, drawing just 16,616 fans for 36 home dates at Pete Goldsby Park.

Following the 2001 season, the All-American Association split apart, with two teams folding and the Texas clubs joining the independent Central League.  Baton Rouge and Montgomery joined the new Southeastern League, with Baton Rouge changing its name to the River Bats prior to the 2002 season.

30-year old pitcher Rick Greene, who made one appearance for the Cincinnati Reds in 1999, was the only Blue Marlins player to ever appear in the Major Leagues.

 

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Written by andycrossley

September 10th, 2014 at 1:46 pm

October 11, 1981 – Nottingham Forest vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

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Nottingham Forest Vancouver WhitecapsNottingham Forest vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
October 11, 1981
City Ground
Attendance: 8,800

North American Soccer League Programs
20 pages

 

Love this Nottingham Forest program for an October 1981 friendly match against the Vancouver Whitecaps of the North American Soccer League.  That’s Forest defender Viv Anderson on the cover, who was the first black player to play for England’s national team, starting in 1978.

At the dawn of the 80′s, Forest was a European power under the direction of Brian Clough.  They were also a popular and frequent challenger of NASL teams for friendly matches on both sides of the Atlantic.  A July 1980 exhibition between these same two clubs at Vancouver’s Empire Stadium attracted 28,710 fans and resulted in a 1-1 draw.

This match at Nottingham’s City Ground fourteen months later resulted in another draw, this time 2-2.  Peter Lorimer scored both goals for the ‘Caps on penalty kicks.  John Hodge and Mark Proctor tallied for Forest.  This game was the 3rd stop on the Whitecaps’ 1981 postseason tour of Europe, which also saw the Canadians defeat Malmo of Sweden and lose to Ajax of Holland and Avellino and Napoli of Italy.

Weirdly, Nottingham Forest issued programs with two different covers for this match.  The more common one (ebay.co.uk usually has a few available on any given day) is pictured below.  Not sure who the Forest player is on the cover?  Maybe Mark Proctor?  Leave a comment if you know.

Nottingham Forest Vancouver Whitecaps

==Downloads==

October 11, 1981 Nottingham Forest vs. Vancouver Whitecaps Team Sheet

 

==Links==

More NASL International Friendlies

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Written by andycrossley

September 9th, 2014 at 3:11 am