The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on March 18, 1980 · 38
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · 38

Los Angeles, California
Issue Date:
Tuesday, March 18, 1980
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12 Part III -Tues.. Mar. 18, 1980 R Cofl AtlgdeS Sfimefl Surf Getting Ready for the Great Outdoors ByALCARR Tlmti SttH Wrlttr ANAHEIM The California Surf's indoor soccer season opened big with a 6-1 victory over the LA Aztecs, but the club quickly went into ebb tide. The team not only fell flat (4-8 record) but was also a box office flop. Hoping for a near sellout of season tickets, the club averaged slightly more than 3,000 in the 5,400 seat Anaheim Convention Center. The club admitted to losing $1.4 million last summer. Having lost their shirts, a few of the owners came up with a bad case of the shorts and turned in their stock. They no longer cared to meet the monthly cash calls. Paul Deese, who engineered the merger of the St. Louis Stars with a California group of investors to move the franchise to Anaheim in 1978, resigned in the fall as general manager. When Bill Dawson took over, the coffers were virtually empty. There was an excuse for poor attendance at the indoor games. There was no money for advertising and promotion, Wall: 'We don't need stars. Some teams with super stars don't play well together. We have team unity, team spirit. ' so Dawson turned the effort toward the outdoor season. Player-coach Peter Wall said early in the indoor season, "We want to win the indoor league, and possibly we can. But our indoor efforts will be aimed toward the outdoor season. All of our conditioning will be aimed toward presenting the fittest team possible at the end of March when we open at Vancouver." The front office and the field chief had kissed off the indoor season and now must make a strong showing in the outdoor both on the field and at the box office. It lost $100,000 in the indoor season, according to Dawson. But the Surf salvaged something. Laurie Abrahams was the leading point man in the Western Division with 18 goals and 17 assists for 53 points. While the Surf was stumbling through the indoor season, Dawson reorganized the front office, developed a season ticket marketing plan and put player-coach Wall in complete charge of player personnel. Dawson is a marketing man with a background in amusement parks. "I know nothing of soccer," he said. "So Peter is in complete charge of player personnel hiring, firing, salary negotiations and player acquisition." Deese, who had made some earlier trades which hadn't turned out that well, made fine deals from the middle to the end of last season. ; His first major move was to drop John Sewell as coach and replace him with Sewell's assistant, Wall. After a slow start, Wall got his offensive theories across to the players and the team won 10 of its last 15 games, finishing 15-15. It tied San Diego for the Western Division titles in the American Conference admittedly the weakest division in the weakest conference. Deese also brought in goalkeeper Mike Mahoney then followed that with the acquisition of Abrahams and midfielder Johann Scharmann. Deese's farewell present to the Surf was goalkeeper Alan Mayer, the former San Diego goalie who's rated the best American goalie in the NASL. Wall was also instrumental in the acquisition of Abrahams and Scharmann. Dawson brought in two men who had been successful at filling seats at Tampa Bay. Don Schulte came aboard as director of sales and promotion. Tim Pearson is the new marketing director. Dawson also made Gary Benson, who had been with him in Long Beach, the assistant GM. While they brainstormed a ticket marketing program, Wall had his players going through workouts on Nautilus machines at SCAR gym. Wall also spent three weeks in Europe, signing defender Stephen Feeney, a Canadian citizen playing in Northern Ireland and signed Austrian Scharmann as a free agent to a Surf contract. The season ticket marketing program given the most emphasis is the Center Circle plan. The idea behind the plan is that not many people are familiar with soccer, so a person who knows the game can educate friends who don't. The soccer family buys season tickets at half price along the first base line at Anaheim Stadium. The family accepts 16 free tickets for seats around the group. The eight people who get two free tickets must also promise to buy tickets to four additional games at $4 each. For months, the front office people and Wall and interim assistant coach Jim Hinch, have met with small groups several nights a week at Anaheim Stadium selling this program. Dawson said, "We have about 500 soccer families in the program now and it goes up about 100 each week. We're hoping to get 1,300 soccer families involved, each bringing eight couples or 16 people total. "Of the regular season seats, we projected an advance sale of 4,000 and have sold 3,600." Dawson said besides this program, the club has sponsors for virtually all of its home games. A sponsoring firm pays $10,000 for the sponsorship including the cost of the halftime show and at its retail outlets makes available coupons redeemable at the box office for a $1 discount on tickets. Dawson has a slightly larger budget than Deese had last year $2.3 million versus $2.13 million. He said the team operating budget is $1.2 million for salaries, transportation, r siEAsma FOR IMMEDIA TE DELIVERY T-Tops, Coupes & 2 x 2's 200SX?Scts310GXSls r 1 A Station Wagons 0 1 A' D lU&Fastbacks U S Full Line COME IN & SEE OUR LARGE INVENTORY training, stadium rental, uniforms, et al. He has a $300,000 player acquisition budget. He spent $100,000 of that. Dawson: "Our team budget is right there with most clubs. The difference is that on some other clubs a wealthy owner will sign a big star to a personnel services contract. That expenditure does not show up in the team budget." Dawson and Wall have accepted the fact that unless there is a sudden and dramatic change at the box office, the Surf will not have a super star unless it develops one itself. Example: When Televisia was negotiating with for the purchase of the Aztecs, it did not want Johan Cruyff and his $700,000 salary. Dawson put together a stock package but couldn't get inside the door. It seems the Aztecs also wanted back the $600,000 they had paid the Cosmos for the rights to the Dutch super star. Nor will the Surf even talk the $80,000 to $100,000 Dr. Robert Everakes wants for the contract of his star Poli Garcia of the California Sunshine (ASL). The Surf's only stars are at opposite ends of the field. One is goal scorer Abrahams and the others are goal stoppers Mayer and Mahoney, a Briton. The Surf will play this season with pretty much the same group it finished 10-5 with last year. Wall said, "We don't need stars. Some teams with super stars don't play well together. We have team unity, team spirit. We played well together at the end of last season. "We are offensive minded. We feel we can score two or three goals any game. That means if we give up a goal early, we won't go into our shells figuring we have lost." In the last 15 games of last summer, the Surf scored 37 goals with a high of five and a low of one. In that span it lost to ultimate NASL champion Vancouver, 2-1, and beat run-nerup Tampa Bay,2-l,in overtime. Wall said, "Our carryover from the indoor season is physical fitness, team unity and improvement of ball skills. Wall was asked to analyze the indoor scoring statistics which showed Abrahams with 18 goals and 17 assists, Mark Lindsay with 13 goals and 12 assists, Craig Allen with 12 goals and 10 assists and Steve Moyers with 10 goals and seven assists. "Many of Abraham's assists were on Lindsay goals. They clearly have a good understanding between each other. They communicate on the field. It also shows that Laurie. while a goal scorer, is not a selfish player. He'll pass to someone with a better shot. "I also expect Lindsay to score at least six goals this summer (pretty good for a defensive midfielder)." "Allen and Moyers were on the other line together and while they scored, it indicates there isn't that much communication between them." Wall then said, "We've had poor communication on the field within the team in the past. There has always been good team spirit on the sidelines. But, we've been practicing outdoors for a week now and the players are communicating with each other on the field." Soccer players, like basketball players and defensive backs in football, must be communicating all the time. Wall said, "I expect Dave Huson to be playing as he did at the beginning of last season. He contracted hepatitis last season and didn't tell anyone. That's why his performance fell off. He said he didn't want to use illness as an excuse. "But David is really buzzing now as he did last spring. When we moved to a deep position indoors, he played extremely well." Wall went on, "I think Steve Moyers will come back to what he was before he suffered the collapsed lung last spring. I've had talks with him and he knows he must be aggressive, harry opponents. He stays after practice to work on weaknesses." "Craig Allen did well indoors, but still needs more playing expereince. He has the potential, he must work on it." Wall said, "Joey Clarke, who had knee surgery last fall, looks as if he will return to the form he showed before the injury. He's practicing hard now. Jimmy Hinch had his surgery several weeks after Joey and may not be ready to even practice until the season opens." This year, all NASL teams must have three North American citizens on the field at all times. It leaves Wall with little flexibility unless some of the American reserves can improve. Wall said, "Because of their lack of real experience, Americans tend to worry about making a mistake. This makes them hesitant. I want the English players to help the Americans. "The English players say, 'All they have to do is ask.' One told me that no American had ever asked him for help." Wall said, "Our strongest position is probably at goalkeeper, where we have two very good ones, Mayer (an American) and Mahoney (a Briton). I want the Americans to come along so well that Mayer and Mahoney have to fight it out for the starting job. "I don't want to have to start Mayer merely because he is an American. If the other Americans come along, we'll have good flexibility." What's doing on the tube? Find out in Sunday's TV TIMES. "SUN I'M and SAVER was Right. SAVING MONEY INTEREST TOO!" It's great to save money especially today . . . and the Sun Saver man told me I'd have less maintenance cost. We save about 80 compared to the concrete pool we had at our other home. 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