Just over nine years since departing the Major Indoor Soccer League — and disappearing from professional indoor soccer’s fluid landscape — the Harrisburg Heat has been reincarnated.
Although the Heat will return to the Farm Show, the venue it called home for 12 NPSL/MISL seasons before folding, Harrisburg is merely the latest addition to a Professional Arena Soccer League consortium that sports 15 franchises in the United States and Mexico.
And while the Heat was being re-introduced Wednesday afternoon to a small gathering just inside the Farm Show’s Cameron Street entrance, PASL commissioner Kevin Milliken received a phone call from a Las Vegas group indicating that city wanted to sign on and become No. 15.
Dallas joined Tuesday.
Other former MISL members already on board include San Diego and Tacoma, while Anaheim is operated and coached by former Heat star Bernie Lilavois.
“I think it’s great, I’m excited,” said Milliken, who along with Harrisburg Heat Sports Group general manager David Grimaldi (a former MISL player and executive), mayor Linda Thompson and Heat vice president of communications John Wilsbach addressed those on hand.
"Hopefully, we can get more new teams,” added Milliken, who founded the pro portion of the PASL prior to the 2008-09 season. “The more teams we get, the cost structure goes down.”
Limiting costs, especially since financial problems caused the original Heat franchise to go tumbling into oblivion, are one huge key behind indoor soccer’s return.
With a 16-game regular season filled with regional foes planned, Milliken said the typical PASL operating budget hovers around $250,000 since teams really don’t need to fly to away games.
And while the Heat’s first schedule likely will be comprised of games mostly against clubs from Cincinnati, Detroit, suburban St. Louis, suburban Kansas City, Canton, Ohio, and Louisville, Ky., Milliken and Grimaldi are hopeful a Philadelphia franchise will join the league within weeks.
Heat fans also might need time to digest some of the PASL rules — such as no three-line rule except for keepers, a six-foul rule in each half that forces the offending team to play short for two minutes, no multi-point scoring and no slide tackling — since several are different.
Although Grimaldi has a lengthy to-do list that includes locating a coach within the next month, finding players, constructing a front office, and securing sponsors and a uniform provider, the Heat will be headquartered and practice at Sports City on Linglestown Road.
Season tickets, which range from $80-160 for 10 games, are already on sale at the club’s newly minted website: www.harrisburgheat.com. There’s also a tentative date and start time for the home opener — Nov. 17 at 7:35 — for those fans who’ve been waiting nine years to see a game.