Storm Unable to Warm Ice Palace in Tough Defeat

Sam Sez

Sam Wolfson
Contributing Editor

June 3, 1997

TAMPA, Fla. - When you decide to go to a Tampa Bay Storm game, there are some things you can count on seeing. One is an exciting game. Arena football action is fast paced and action packed. Another thing is a good show. You never know what crazy mascots, promotions, and pre-game shows they'll have. And until recently, you could almost guarantee that you would see a win.

In the Storm's previous six seasons of existance, they had lost at home exactly once each season. The Storm lost its second home game of the season two weeks ago. Then, the unthinkable happened. The Milwaukee Mustangs, who came into the game 2-2, defeated the Storm. Not only has the Storm lost twice at home in the season, they now have their first ever two game home losing streak.

There are many factors which can be blamed for this stunning change in the torm's fortunes. One that jumps out right away are the crowds. Two of the first three crowds have ranked in the last 3 of the Storm's all-time attendence figures. Friday night's crowd of 9,888 was the smallest ever. This is still much larger than the 50 or so fans that showed up in LA to see the Homeless (fomerly Florida) Bobcats play the Arizona Rattlers. The only other game in this infamous 3 was the Storm's first ever game in the Dome across the bay in St. Petersburg. This is a partial explanation for the lower attendence. Some of the fans have not followed the team when they moved to Tampa. The addition of the Major League Soccer Mutiny has given sports fans another option for their entertainment dollars.

Another important factor is the new-found parody in the league. Despite expansion, talent level in the league seems to be at an all time high. Many more teams are competitive, and there does not seem to be a dominant team this season. Storm coach Tim Marcum points to the demise of the American teams in the Canadian Football League as a main factor in this influx of talent. "That's put a lot of...good football players in this league," Marcum said, "I think that's good for the league." Ironically, it is the CFL that is taking some of the talent from the Storm. Star defensive specialist Johnnie Harris, one of the best in the league, is leaving the team to attend training camp for the Toronto Argonauts.

Despite any of this, the Storm must still focus on the task at hand. They have to take care of business on the field. Against Milwaukee, the Storm turned the ball over 6 times. Numerous penalties extended Mustang drives. Tampa Bay must work on the mental aspect of the game as much as anything. The Storm travels to Albany this week. You know that the Firebirds will be itching to repay the Storm for the last two times the teams played wherthe Storm pulled victory from the jaws of defeat. For the Storm to win Saturday night, they will have to improve both consistancy and concentration. When things start to get rough at home, it usually helps to take a vacation.

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