National Professional Soccer League (1995-1997)
Born: December 8, 1994 – NPSL expansion franchise.
Died: 1997 – The Terror cease operations.
Arena: The Bayfront Center
Owner: William Collins III
The Tampa Bay Terror (1995-1997) were a dead-on-arrival attempt to relive the glory days of indoor soccer in the Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg area.
From 1979 to 1982 the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the North American Soccer League routinely sold out the 5,000-seat Bayfront Center for indoor matches. By the time William Collins III purchased an expansion franchise in the National Professional Soccer League in December 1994, the glory days of the Rowdies were a distant memory and national interest in indoor soccer had declined steeply.
Collins brought in a top-flight coach in Kenny Cooper, who was also a minority owner of the team. Cooper had great success as manager of the popular Baltimore Blast club in the Major Indoor Soccer League from 1980 to 1992, winning a title in 1984. The Terror also went the nostalgia route by signing a popular former Rowdie, Perry Van Der Beck, as a player/assistant coach.
The Terror finished a disappointing 14-26 under Cooper during the winter of 1995-96. Van Der Beck replaced Cooper as Head Coach for the team’s second and final season in 1996-97. It didn’t help. The Terror finished 15-25, but made the playoffs thanks to the NPSL’s generous playoff system. The Cincinnati Silverbacks eliminated the Terror in the first round of postseason action.
The Terror’s draw at the box office was even more dismal. The club claimed an average of 1,828 fans per match in 1995-96 and 2,073 in 1996-97. The figures were among the worst in the NPSL, which averaged over 5,000 fans per game league-wide in those years.
The Terror seemed like an odd distraction for team owner William Collins III. Collins, a Virginia-based wireless communications executive and former minor league baseball player, was a baseball fanatic. His great passion was to bring Major League Baseball to Northern Virginia and he lead a decade long (and ultimately fruitless) effort to secure an expansion or relocated franchise for the region. Collins’ group spent $13 millon on the Major League effort between 1994 and 2004. During the time Collins owned the Terror, he also owned two minor league baseball clubs – the Greensboro (NC) Bats and the Michigan Battle Cats.
The Terror folded quietly in 1997 after two seasons of play.
The Bayfront Center was demolished in 2004 and is now the site of the Salvador Dali Museum.
==Tampa Bay Terror Games on Fun While It Lasted==
|11/24/1995||vs. Milwaukee Wave||??||Program|