Huntsville Fire logo
|Full name||Huntsville Fire|
|Ground||Von Braun Center|
|Owner||Major League Indoor Football, Inc.|
|Head Coach||Scott Cooper|
|League||Eastern Indoor Soccer League|
The Huntsville Fire was an American professional indoor soccer team based in Huntsville, Alabama. The Fire played in the Eastern Indoor Soccer League during both of the league's seasons from 1997 to 1998. They played their home games in the Von Braun Center. The team began the 1997 season as the Florida-based Daytona Beach Speedkings before financial struggles forced a sale early in the season.
During their existence, the Fire/Speedkings played a combined total of 52 games, winning 29, two via shootout, and losing 23, two via shootout. They scored a total of 810 goals and allowed a total of 702 goals and notched 87 total standings points out of a possible 156 points. The EISL awarded 3 standings points for a win, 2 for a shootout win, 1 for a shootout loss, and 0 for a loss in regulation.
The team, a charter member of the Eastern Indoor Soccer League, was founded as the Daytona Beach Speedkings. They played their home games at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Florida, under the direction of coach Scott Cooper. The team played the first-ever game in EISL history, losing to the Savannah Rug Ratz in front of a "disappointing" crowd of 600 fans. Despite having a winning record (5–3) and the league's top offense, the team failed to draw fans and suffered financially. Before the season, team owner Blake Cullen told the Orlando Sentinel that the team would need to average about 3,000 fans per game to break even. The team's official home attendance average was 609 per game but the bulk of those were complimentary tickets with the SpeedKings selling fewer than 200 tickets per game.
This failure prompted Cullen to sell the team to Major League Indoor Football, Inc., based in Clearwater, Florida, who announced the team would relocate to the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama. In just three weeks the new management headed by team president Bryan Dresden, moved the team from Daytona Beach opening to an inaugural crowd of over 2500 new fans in Huntsville, Alabama. The renamed Huntsville Fire finished the season with a record of 13 wins and 11 losses, including 1 shootout win. This gave the team a total of 38 points for the 1997 season and 4th place in the seven-team league.
The Fire returned for the 1998 season. They finished the season with a record of 16 wins and 12 losses (including 1 shootout win and two shootout losses) for 49 points. This placed them 3rd overall in the seven-team league. The Fire made the playoffs, losing to the Mississippi Beach Kings 2 games to 1 in the semi-final round. The Fire averaged 2,535 fans per game, fourth-best in the EISL where the average league game saw 2,733 fans in attendance.
Lee Edgerton was named EISL Most Valuable Player for the 1998 season. Ed Carmean was honored with the EISL's first Sportsmanship Award, presented to the player who "displays gentlemanly play and the ability to treat players, fans and officials with genuine respect and kindness." Huntsville Fire players named to the 1998 EISL All-League Team included midfielder Lee Edgerton and defender Ed Carmean. Players named to the EISL All-League Third Team included defender Carlton Williams. Players receiving All-League Honorable Mentions included defender Abraham Francois and midfielder Jamie Harding.
After the season, in late September 1998, the team fired its five-person staff, including head coach Scott Cooper and general manager Jim Krause, citing "significant" financial losses. Team president Bryan Dresden said he would not move or fold the team but that additional local investors were required for the team to continue. This became moot when the EISL itself folded in late December 1998.
- "Huntsvlle Fire ceases operations". The Gadsden Times. Gadsden, AL: New York Times Company. September 29, 1998. p. B3. Retrieved June 5, 2013.
- "Huntsville getting minor league soccer team". The Gadsden Times. Gadsden, AL: Halifax Media Group. Associated Press. July 11, 1997. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
- McCarter, Mark (March 25, 2015). "Von Braun Center has celebrated much sports success, but also been graveyard for some franchises". The Huntsville Times. Huntsville, AL: Advance Publications. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "SpeedKings moving to Huntsville, Ala". The Advocate. Baton Rouge, LA: Capital City Press. July 11, 1997. Retrieved June 6, 2013.
- Litterer, David. "Eastern Indoor Soccer League". USA Soccer History Archives. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
- "EISL Daily Report". Tallahassee, FL: Eastern Indoor Soccer League. August 24, 1998. Archived from the original on April 23, 1999. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
- Solano, Javier (August 18, 1996). "Cullen Returning With New League; Former Baseball Executive Blake Cullen Is Coming Back To Daytona Beach With The Eastern Indoor Soccer League". Orlando Sentinel. Orlando, FL: Tribune Publishing. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
- Solano, Javier (April 13, 1997). "Speedkings Ready To Get Started". Orlando Sentinel. Orlando, FL: Tribune Company. Retrieved June 5, 2013.
- Solano, Javier (June 14, 1997). "Speedkings Not Successful In Debut". Orlando Sentinel. Orlando, FL: Tribune Company. Retrieved June 5, 2013.
- Solano, Javier (July 10, 1997). "Lack Of Support Sends Speedkings Packing; The Floundering Minor League Soccer Franchise Has Been Sold And Is Being Relocated To Huntsville, Ala". Orlando Sentinel. Orlando, FL: Tribune Company. Retrieved June 5, 2013.
- Solano, Javier (October 8, 1996). "Ocean Center To Have Indoor Soccer Team; The Daytona Beach Speedkings, Part Of The Eastern Indoor Soccer League, Are Set To Play June 1997". Orlando Sentinel. Orlando, FL: Tribune Publishing. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
- Thompson, Todd (July 15, 1998). "Wall to Wall: Fire turns on heat in EISL". TimesDaily. Florence, AL: Tennessee Valley Printing Co. p. 1D. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
- Hammack, Don (August 23, 1998). "Beach Kings Douse Fire in Shootout; Team to Face SwampCats in Championship Series". Sun Herald. Biloxi, MS: The McClatchy Company. p. D1.
- "1998 EISL Championship beginning this weekend". The Daily Iberian. New Iberia, LA: Wick Communications. August 25, 1998. Retrieved February 25, 2015.
- Clayton, John (December 24, 1998). "Savannah soccer team Rug Ratz and its league are abolished". Savannah Morning News. Savannah, GA: Morris Communications. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
- "Edgerton Takes MVP Honors". Tallahassee, FL: Eastern Indoor Soccer League. August 19, 1998. Archived from the original on February 19, 1999. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
- "Defender Ed Carmean Honored with Sportsmanship Award". Tallahassee, FL: Eastern Indoor Soccer League. August 12, 1998. Archived from the original on February 19, 1999. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
- "EISL Names All-League Team". Tallahassee, FL: Eastern Indoor Soccer League. August 19, 1998. Archived from the original on February 20, 1999. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
- Hammack, Don (October 3, 1998). "EISL Teams Call It Quits; Other Teams to Keep On Playing". Sun Herald. Biloxi, MS: The McClatchy Company. p. C1.
- "EISL Folds After Two Seasons; Beach Kings Will Not Return". Sun Herald. Biloxi, MS: Knight Ridder. December 24, 1998. p. C1. Retrieved June 6, 2013.
- Huntsville Fire at Soccer Times