Wings Win Bid, Hartman Arena To Host National Finals

by Brian Ackley

TAMPA, Fla – Major Arena Soccer League 2 will bring its “Championship Weekend” to Hartman Arena after owners picked the Wichita Wings as host of the playoffs for the seventh season of play in the league.In addition, the league has set its divisional alignment for the season which starts in late fall. A record 19 teams – four more than any of the previous M2 season, with all 15 teams from last year returning to join the Baltimore Arsenal, Atletico Orlando, St. Louis Ambush 2 and Utica N.Y. based United Elite – will be placed in four divisions. They include:EAST – Rochester Lancers, Baltimore Arsenal, United Elite, Atletico Orlando.NORTH – Muskegon Risers, Des Moines Demon Hawks, Iowa (Cedar Rapids) Raptors and St. Louis Ambush 2.MIDWEST – Wichita Wings, Kansas (Dodge City) Bandits, New Mexico (Albuquerque) Runners, Amarillo Bombers, Colorado (Colorado Springs) Inferno.WEST – San Diego Sockers 2, Chihuahua Savage 2, Empire (Ontario, California) Jets, Turlock Express, and Club Deportivo de Baja based in Tijuana Mexico.“With just 12 regular season games, all within each of the team’s respective divisions, the existing rivalries will be intense and new ones will grow quickly,”  M2 Commissioner Chris Economides said. “Even games early in the season will have tremendous playoff and tiebreaker implications.”A total of eight teams will qualify for the post-season set to run April 4-7 at the 5,000 seat Hartman Arena in Park City, a suburb of Wichita. The Wings – who regularly lead M2 in attendance --  also hosted the 2020-21 playoffs when they advanced to the title game before falling to the Cleveland Crunch, 11-6.The Wings are one of the sport’s most iconic franchises, having joined the original Major Indoor Soccer League for the 1979-80 season. Despite year-after-year success on the field and off, however, the Wings will be looking for their first ever pro indoor soccer championship next spring.Three teams submitted competitive bids to host the postseason, including the defending champion Chihuahua Savage 2 and the St. Louis Ambush 2. In a secret vote of owners following a more than two-hour long Zoom call where all three teams made their presentations, Wichita was selected.“It’s a great representation of just how strong the league has become and how good our ownership groups are that we had multiple franchises submit such impressive and competitive bids to host our playoffs," Economides added. “All three provided teams with financial assistance and many other amenities and incentives which made them all attractive choices. But in the end, the owners selected Wichita and we can’t wait to return to a city that has so enthusiastically embraced pro indoor soccer for decades.”Owners agreed that the city with the winning bid would also receive an automatic berth to the playoffs. The Wings have made the postseason every season since their debut in M2 in 2019. The top two teams in the East, North and West Division will qualify. The Wings, along with the highest finishing team in the Midwest, also will advance.

"The overall league growth created a situation where more teams will advance to the final weekend, which in turn provided us with an opportunity to implement a festival style atmosphere with 10 games over the course of 3 days," said Wings President Blake Shumaker. It's humbling the owners chose the Wichita Wings for such an event and we're confident it will be one for the history books."

Tiebreakers to be used to determine final divisional standings are, in order: total points, regulation wins, wins, head to group, goal differential, goals for and goals against. During the regular season, teams get three points for a win, two points for an overtime win, one point for an overtime loss and no points for a regulation time loss.The Chihuahua Savage 2 won the 2022-23 title  over the Amarillo Bombers in games played at Mesquite  Arena in Texas, home of the MASL Texas Outlaws. Two seasons ago, the playoffs were hosted by the Muskegon Risers.