By now, you've probably heard the TV numbers for Sunday's
final were through the roof. The national rating was 8.6, which crushed the British Open and even last week's MLB All-Star Game.
What you might not have heard is that of the 56 markets, Norfolk/Hampton Roads was fifth at 11.1. Only Baltimore, San Diego, West Palm Beach and Washington had larger television audiences.
It's that wave of popularity the Norfolk SharX, a first-year Major Indoor Soccer League team that will operate out of Scope, hopes to ride.
"Soccer is still attracting fans in this country, and I'm excited to get those new fans behind the SharX," said
, who was introduced as the team's coach in a Tuesday morning press conference. "But also,
has an excellent educated fan base, and those are also people you want to come support the team.
"Hopefully, we can put together a product and have individual players that (will) bring a wow factor to even them. If we can get that, then I think we're on the road to a successful and long-standing franchise."
The indoor game is to soccer what the arena league is to football. Hall calls it "fast and frenzied." Marcie Laumann, the SharX's president, calls it "pinball on steroids."
As opposed to a 120-yard field, the game is played on an artificial surface the size of a hockey rink. The field is surrounded by dasher boards and Plexiglas, which are not only in play but often part of the strategy.
There's no offside penalty, so getting past your defender is actually a good thing. Teams can substitute on the fly, just like in hockey. Goals are worth two points unless they come from behind a 45-foot arc, in which case they're worth three.
It's something of a remedy for Americans who find traditional soccer too slow and low-scoring. The average MISL game sees 60 shots and 11 goals. In last year's championship, the Milwaukee Wave beat the
"People won't be bored," Laumann said. "Those who like soccer will enjoy this, and people who don't enjoy the outdoor game are going to enjoy this. It really does bring in the elements of so many different sports. There are tons of opportunities to score, and it's going to make the goal keepers have to be better."
The MISL's average attendance last year was 3,982. The championship game at Baltimore's
The league has seven teams, including newcomers Syracuse, Rochester and Norfolk. The existing franchises are Baltimore, Kansas City, Wichita and Milwaukee.
The season begins Nov. 12 and ends March 13, but the league's schedule has not been released. Laumann said it will "hopefully" be in two or three weeks, which is when the SharX will begin ticket sales.
Hall said the team will conduct tryouts on Sept. 9-10 and Oct. 1-2 at Scope.