The Baltimore Blast announced a five-year extension with Towson University that will keep the Blast playing its home games at SECU Arena through the 2024-25 season.
The three-time defending champions of the Major Arena Soccer League moved their home games to SECU Arena prior to the 2017-2018 season after playing at Royal Farms Arena in downtown Baltimore since the current iteration of the club was founded in 1992.
Blast owner Ed Hale, head coach Danny Kelly and Towson University president Kim Schatzel announced the extension at a news conference held at SECU Arena April 18.
"We are very fortunate that over the past two years we've enjoyed a front row seat," Schatzel said. "... We are thrilled to continue our partnership with the 10-time champion Baltimore Blast."
"We are improving our fan experience in this beautiful arena with a close collaboration with President Schatzel and her staff," Hale said.
The Blast is 23-2 all time at SECU Arena. The home atmosphere, which has helped trigger the Blast's success at SECU, factored into Hale's decision to continue playing on Towson's campus.
"We got here and it was very clear that this is a pretty cool place," Hale said. "New, bright, beautiful, the fans liked it. We weren't here any more than maybe one or two games and I thought we need to move this out longer."
The intimate atmosphere of SECU Arena is something that Royal Farms Arena could not offer, which is a big reason why Hale, Kelly and the players like it.
"You can feel the fans' energy when they're right on top of you," Kelly said. "... Here, the way the arena is set up, you can just feel the energy and the players play off of that, so whenever you can have the home crowd right on top of you, on your side, and giving you that extra [energy], that's invaluable. The seventh man, if you will.”
The Blast will be starting its title defense at SECU Arena against Utica City FC at 6 p.m. April 20. It's a best-of-three series between Baltimore and Utica City, both of which went 17-7 during the regular season.
Having won three straight leagues championships and four in the past six years, the Blast knows there's a target on its back and that other teams want what the Blast already has: titles.
While winning is what ultimately gets fans to come out and support the club, the Blast credits the atmosphere and environment Towson University has created at SECU Arena.
"We've been successful here," Kelly said. "Whatever it is, whether it's the fans, the building, the field ... it's really been an unbelievable place to display our team's talents and continue with our winning ways."
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