Details of the CPSL Press Conference held Thursday May 15th, 2003 at Toronto City Hall Members Lounge at 12:00pm.

The meeting was called to order at 12:25pm by League Administrator Stan Adamson. Journalists arriving ceremoniously late had to stand as they flooded in at the last minute.

The Master of Ceremonies was Canadian FIFA official Dick Howard.

Dalton (somebody) stepped in for Toronto councillor Pete LoPreti who's away meeting the mayor of Milan Italy. We're told he's a big supporter of soccer and is always proud to be presenting soccer scholarships and soccer is mentioned prominently on his web site. Some other Toronto councillors are also not here.

Dick Howard is back and says he doesn't want MLS in Toronto! He wants to grow the A-League Canadian franchises. He then (as part of a joke) states he DOES want MLS in Toronto as in "Mel Lastman Stadium". (whatever will get a medium sized stadium in this city). That joke played well in Toronto with all of us knowing the personality of Mr Big Ego. He then went on to say that tiny Caribbean country Grenada has a medium sized stadium better than anything we have in Canada and Trinidad&Tobago has five. Across the lake, Rochester is building one now!

He outlines our history of stadiums as "Rubble and Rhetoric". Rubble for the memories of Stanley Park, Varsity Stadium and the CNE Exhibition Stadium that have been demolished and Rhetoric for all the stadium committees he's been on since 1984. We need a stadium to attract visiting teams like Juventus who declined coming to Toronto but will send a youth team to play two CPSL teams this summer. The Argos (CFL football) and rugby teams would play at the new stadium also. (Some/all?) of the new Toronto mayoral candidates support the new stadium as well. We shouldn't need the Women's World Cup bid to get us a stadium.

CPSL Chairman/President Vincent Ursini was up next and acknowledged he's lost a lot of weight (many people were whispering that before the conference got started).
--The league has hired Cary Kaplan for marketing help.
--The CPSL Soccer Show on Rogers community channel had the highest ratings of any Sunday show.
--The league has merged teams (Vaughan Sun Devils and York Region Shooters) and is happy that it's help rid the congestion of Greater Toronto area teams.
--The league is looking at one or more expansion teams for 2004 but is not looking to expand just to get bigger. The league has raised the bar both financially and ownership commitment.
--The push to expand across Canada has been halted as the rest of Canada is not ready for the CPSL he found in his travels.
--He's all in support of the first division of Canadian soccer being more A-League teams.
--The CPSL is meant to develop player skills and he's pleased with the number of 16 to 18 year olds in the league that can move up to the A-League or to Europe.
--This year the CPSL has opened up their Open Cup for amateur teams to join in. The Open Cup starts tomorrow night in London with two non-CPSL teams playing off. CPSL teams will join in the second round. The late planning for this event meant more teams didn't join in from other amateur leagues and even the Toronto Lynx who had filled in their schedule.
--For 2004, either the CSA will organize an open cup for all of Canada and if they don't, the CPSL will expand their cup to include teams from all over the country.

Celebs were introduced including Holger Osiek, Stu Neely, Tony Taylor, Bill Speers, a Locust Sports guy, George Azcurra (goaltender of the year) and Domagoz Sain (defender of the year) both from Toronto Croatia, and the Lamport Stadium owner/operator.

Stan Adamson then discussed what was in the media kit. That would be handed out at the end of the press conference. (cutting down on those who would be reading that instead of listening or bolt for the doors?) There's a team pass, a mini soccer ball from Locust that needs to be inflated, and schedule for the 117 league games. The Open Cup winners prize is $10,000. The CPSL championship final game is October 5th with a banquet to follow. (nuts! press kit doesn't say what city it's in!).
--Hamilton has a new head coach in Duncan Wilde playing/coaching hundreds of games in England.
--Toronto Croatia has hired Professor Neca as a technical director who did the same work for the Portuguese world cup team in 2002.
--He also thanked long time broadcaster Alex Franco and newspaper writer Kathy Rumelski and complemented the teams. Les Dynamites de Montreal has changed their name to Les Dynamites de Laval.

Bruno Hartrell, co-owner of Toronto Lynx was next and in a short talk said the greater vision is to expand soccer nationally and improve sponsorship and attendance. This will enable higher salaries and increased competitiveness.

Gary Kaplan the league's new Marketing Consultant who organized the CNSL All Stars vs Parma (Italy Serie A) game in 1995 was next.
He offered that: 1. Soccer in the US, 2. the CFL and CHA, and 3. Italy and Germany (hockey) all have things in common.
A. Corporate Sponsorship...the leagues are integrated and not competing for the same sponsors.
B. Grassroots Growth...get kids excited that they'll be a chance to play soccer in Canada when they get older.
C. Relation to Media...don't keep continueing to operate in adversity. We must have a broader base.
D. Sales and Marketing...each team must have a person assigned to this.
E. to solve that problem? We have a big base: that play soccer. fans that watch European games on TV.
It is our responsibility to 'grow' the game.
F. Attract Good Players...enough money to have them play in Canada.
If this can be done we should be at the success level of CFL in 15 to 20 years! Everyone must be on the same page. He's proud to be here!

Dick Howard comes back on and thanks a list of sponsers. He's got one more story about being late for a game in England because the train was late arriving and he was still ten minutes away from the stadium where Crewe Alexandria played. He heard a huge roar from the 6000 fans and thought he'd missed a goal. "No the game hasn't started yet." said a fan. That cheer was for the arrival of the meat pie truck!

There wasn't a question and answer session but mingling led to getting my other questions answered. First get me some pizza and munchies! Ok now for my four questions.

Yes from looking at the schedule and asking questions it's true that Mississauga Olympians will play their entire schedule on the road. The expansion questions (by special request from some Voyageurs) were dealt with in the main part of the conference. How about a roster freeze after August so a team can't pick up players from the Toronto Lynx (or Vancouver A-League remembering Darren Tilley and RICK TITUS)? Yes September 1st Vince Ursini said they'll be one but that wouldn't stop signing intentions to play before that deadline. Oh oh! "Say Lynx player, not that you'll not make the playoffs but if you don't, how about signing this promise (nudge nudge)".
What about the problem of amateur players losing their scholarships if they play amateur in the 'pro' CPSL league? Stan Adamson and Vince Ursini said the NCAA isn't even sure of how complicated their rules them every league is pro until they hear otherwise. NCAA Division 2 schools don't have a problem with this but Division 1 schools will make sure that their students won't play in the CPSL or lose their eligibility.

Dave Benning says that for any of the Vaughan players worried about American eligibility problems, they can always play for their second team that competes in the amateur OSL or their third team in the T&D League. Domagoz Sain laughs when I ask about who'll deal with the mosquito crisis at Memorial Park now that West Nile Virus will be the big scare of the summer. Anyone on the bench gets eaten alive by those little bugs.

Now let's get home. 2:00pm. Hey I recognize the receptionist at Toronto City Hall as someone I worked with twenty years ago. Now over to Yonge Street to buy CDs. Lucky me gets to replace my old cassette tapes of Madonna and The Smiths.

Every team should have ten home games if Mississauga only plays road games. I can only count six Laval home games. More review required!

Rocket Robin

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