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How long does it take to clean two championship banners?

Posted on 07 February 2014 by Drew Forrester

My family attended Disney on Ice last night at the Baltimore Arena.

As a side note, if you have young children and can make it down there by Sunday, there are worse ways to spend two hours.  It was fun, full of energy and even old folks like us will recognize a lot of their skating characters.

I had a good time last night despite the fact that I was completely aggravated about twenty seconds into my entry into the building.

As Robert Palmer would sing once upon a time — “I’m…..looking for clues.”


Without fail, anytime I go to an event in the Baltimore Arena, I always take a glance up to the rafters to see the Blast championship banners that hang from Lombard Street aside of the building.  I worked for the team in ’82-83, ’83-84 and ’84’-85, which were also years the Blast captured the Eastern Division championship in the MISL.  We also won the league title in 1983-84.  Those are the four banners that represent “the old days” of the Blast and they’re still up…a faded yellow, perhaps, but still hanging in the ceiling of the Arena.  There are other Blast banners hanging, as well, symbolic of the excellence established by in “the current era” which started in 1998.

They were all hanging up on Thursday night, right where they should be.

Two other banners, though, were missing.

In 1992-93 and 1993-94 the Baltimore Spirit – an entry in the National Professional Soccer League – won the Eastern Division Championship.  For the uninitiated, the Spirit came about after the MISL (which contained the Blast) folded following the 1991-92 campaign.  Faced with the prospect of having no indoor soccer in Baltimore for the first time since 1980, a local businessman – Bill Stealey – put an expansion team in the league and was essentially forced to “re-name” the franchise due to a legal situation involving the old league (a “union league”) and the new league (“non union”) and the fact that the “new owner” and “old owner” couldn’t agree on a price tag for the Blast name and logo.

Make no mistake about it, though, the Spirit was the Blast.  Kenny Cooper was the man in charge, the fan base was identical, a large number of players carried over from the MISL to the NPSL and other than the name – Spirit – nothing changed from the final days of the Blast in June of 1992.

The tradition of great Blast soccer carried over to ’92-93 and ’93-94 when the Spirit won those two Eastern Division titles.

Naturally, having worked in the Arena as part of the Blast and Spirit from 1981 until 1998, anytime I go to the Arena I glance up at the Blast banners at the Lombard Street end and then to the Spirit banners at the Baltimore Street end.

Except last night, the two Spirit banners weren’t there.

Blast banners:  there

Spirit banners: not there

I immediately went to Facebook and asked, “Who is responsible for the Spirit banners not being there?”  I also called it “bush-league” that they weren’t up there.

A few Facebook friends quickly chimed in to tell me they haven’t been up for a couple of years.

Evidently, they’re being cleaned.

For a couple of years.

Who’s cleaning them, the Orioles?

A Blast representative reached out to me quickly and assured me the current team has nothing to do with the removal of the Spirit banners from the rafters.

I hope that’s true.

I’d be very disappointed to find out the Blast called for those banners to be removed.

The person who told me the current organization had nothing to do with the Spirit banners not being up there is a trustworthy man, so I believe him.  Especially since I signed him to play for the team in ’92-93 and hired him to work in the front office (where he still remains) when his playing days were over.

So…where are the banners?

Being cleaned?


Or did someone in Arena management just assume they were no longer important enough to hang from the rafters?

If those banners were removed intentionally, it’s a bush-league move and it needs to be corrected.

If, in fact, they’re being cleaned (for two years), pay the bill, get them back, and hang ’em up.

I’m looking for clues.

They belong up there.

And, on behalf of people like Kenny Cooper, Jason Dieter, Barry Stitz, Steve Nichols, Mike Conway and everyone else who played for those two teams, I’m going to do my best to get those banners back up in the rafters of the Baltimore Arena.

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