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Friday, February 21, 1992 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Curtain Closes On Seattle Storm -- Owner Decides To Fold Soccer Team

There hasn't been an obituary, but another Seattle soccer team has died.

The Seattle Storm, which announced in 1991 it was taking a year off for a national pro league to solidify, has changed plans. It won't be back.

Storm owner Bud Greer, said to have spent millions backing the Storm and its various programs since 1984, said yesterday, "I didn't see a great future in continuing."

The dream of a coast-to-coast pro soccer league hasn't died, but it is ailing. The American Professional Soccer League has shrunk from nine teams in 1991 to five teams for this year (Miami, Tampa Bay, Fort Lauderdale, Denver, San Francisco).

"It didn't look very professional to us," said Greer, an Issaquah resident.

The Storm began in 1984 as F.C. (Football Club) Seattle after the Sounders of the now-defunct North American Soccer League folded.

At one time, the Storm had a staff of 10. Its activities, in addition to supporting what amounted to a semipro team, included sponsoring "city league" teams throughout Puget Sound, co-sponsoring a top women's amateur team and operating a developmental program that included camps and clinics.

The Storm's most successful year was 1988 when it won the championship of the Western Soccer League, out of which the APSL grew before the 1989 season. In 1990, the Storm's final season, the team finished 10-10 in the Western Division in APSL and averaged more than 3,000 fans a game.

Bill Sage, former general manager of the Storm, now is commissioner of the American Professional Soccer League. He has moved to Washington, D.C., and as expected is more optimistic than Greer about the pro league's chances of succeeding.

Coach Stuart Lee will continue to operate clinics and camps using the Storm name.

Sage said he and Greer had tried but failed to find new ownership for the Storm.

Cliff McCrath, Seattle Pacific soccer coach who was involved in the founding of the Storm organaization, said, "I think Bud's interest in soccer waned because it was all give and no get."

"That's an interesting way to put it," said Greer, who estimated that he was putting between $500,000 and $700,000 into the program annually. "I never looked at it as a give-and-get situation."

Greer remains a major backer of select youth soccer programs in Everett and Tacoma. He coaches an under-19 girls' team in Tacoma.

His athletic interests have expanded to bicycle racing: He underwrites men's and women's teams (the women's is sponsored by TGIF restaurants) on the national circuit and expects some of his cyclists to make the U.S. Olympic team.

Greer said he became involved in bicycle racing when his daughter, Nan, now a junior on the Seattle University soccer team, got interested in the sport.

A successful businessman and philanthropist, Greer for years has been a major supporter of three orphanages. Greer returned this week from a visit to the orphanages in Honduras and Mexico; another is in Haiti.

Greer said he doesn't regret his involvement with the Storm.

"I think I would probably do it again," he said. "Maybe not the same way, but there are always things you can improve on. . . . In general, I'm not displeased. And I hope I'm wrong about the direction of the pro league."

Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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