Pretty much all soccer teams have a shirt sponsor—Manchester United had AIG for a while, Chelsea FC has Samsung, and now Baltimore’s new minor-league soccer team has what else but National Bohemian.
The Baltimore Bohemians, who will play in the Premiere Development League, will launch their inaugural season next month. The 16-game season will feature mostly local, college-aged soccer players—proudly wearing jerseys with the Natty Boh logo.
“It’s a development league so it’s similar to minor-league baseball,” explains Joe Tirabassi, the team’s marketing manager. “There are such great soccer players in the area, and we wanted to give these guys a chance to show that talent on a national level.”
The idea of the team started when Tirabassi’s dad, Phil, met United Soccer League CEO Alec Papadakis, and they discussed the potential for a franchise here. That potential is now brought to life through coach Steve Nichols, who does all the scouting.
“We have a massive player pool,” says Nichols, who also coaches at McDonogh and for youth soccer organization the Baltimore Bays. “Our kids grow up and go on to college. Now there’s a place for our players in the summers when they’re home from school.”
Nichols says that most of the players are from Baltimore, though they play in colleges all over the country, like UVA, Duke, and UNC. The Bohemians, whose principal owner is Louis F. Angelos (son of Orioles owner, Peter), will play twice a week at Cedar Lane Park in Bel Air, where the sponsorship theme will be very much on display.
“The partnership works out perfectly,” Tirabassi says. “We’ll have Natty Boh on tap at the stadium, and we’ll host tailgate parties for the game. Fans will get a great soccer game, plus a fun party.”
Both Tirabassi and Nichols feel like soccer’s popularity is on the rise in Baltimore and the city is ready for such a development soccer league.
“Soccer has been a big part of this city,” Tirabassi says. “This is an opportunity to give local fans something to call their own.”