Doug Miller on what arena to play indoor soccer in: “That’s the conundrum we’re in. We have something already established and now you’re recreating it and that’s exciting, too because you can add different bells and whistles.” (Michael Lewis/FrontRowSoccer.com)
By Michael Lewis
As one Rochester Lancers season winds down, another one could be dawning soon.
An announcement about the Lancers returning to indoor play could be made within the next two weeks, Lancers coach Doug Miller said Saturday. The Lancers played four seasons indoors, from 2011-2015, the last in the Major Arena Soccer League in 2014-15.
Miller, one of the team owners who performed with the team and coached the side during the last season, said on Soccer Sam’s Show, Kick This! that the team had submitted an application to the MASL. Earlier this week, Miller said he had a conference call “to kind of dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s.”
The big question mark is where the indoor Lancers will play. The final choices are the Blue Cross Arena in downtown Rochester, N.Y., where the indoor side called home for four seasons, or the Dome Arena in suburban Henrietta, south of the city.
“We’re trying to figure out how to best do this and then hopefully announce tryouts come August or early September so we can get a bunch of players into camp,” Miller said on the radio show.
So, Miller and the Lancers will have some tough decisions to make.
Will they choose the Dome Arena, which recently was upgraded and has a seating capacity of 4,086?
Or will they pick the Blue Cross Arena, which holds 11,200? The Lancers would be No. 4 in pecking order behind the Rochester Americans (hockey), Rochester Nighthawks (lacrosse) and Rochester RazorSharks (pro basketball) The arena also saves other dates for concerts.
“That’s the conundrum we’re in,” Miller said. “We have something already established and now you’re recreating it and that’s exciting, too because you can add different bells and whistles.”
Miller said he visited the Dome Arena the other day, realizing “the light show that can be put on there, the environment would be electrifying.”
“We have built a culture with the indoor Lancers,” he added. “We’re starting that with the outdoor Lancers. But to go back into that environment, with the music and the atmosphere, people will have a really good time. It’s about an event. You have to make it into an event. It’s just not soccer. It’s a family event, for the 20s to the 40s to come out and maybe have a couple of adult beverages and watch soccer and be entertained.
“Ultimately, every soccer player is not just a soccer player, he is an entertainer. You have to have that mentality. You’re going to engage with the fans. You’re going to do a foot throw, or you’re to have a mohawk and you’re going to be really good at your craft.”
The Blue Cross Arena holds almost triple the number of fans than the Dome Arena. Miller said there were perks about playing in a smaller building.
“You’ve got to get your ticket early,” he said. “We’re going to have some special things for our season ticket holders. To get our season ticket base up there because if you don’t get a ticket at the Dome Arena, you might not see a game. At the Blue Cross Arena, you can show up at the last minute. There’s really no obligation. If something else comes up, ‘Hey I haven’t committed, my entertainment dollars to that, so now I can spend it somewhere else.’ ”
As for stocking the team, Miller indicated that should not be a problem. He said 11 players from the Lancers outdoor team that performs in the National Professional Soccer League have 11 players that would play. And, there are players who perform in Buffalo and Syracuse in the NPSL that would be candidates for a roster spot.
“I’ve talked to them personally over the last week and they’re all in,” Miller said about his outdoor players. “They’ve enjoyed it. They want the experience and then between Syracuse and Buffalo, I’m sure probably there’s 15 or 16 other players that have the quality. It’s trying to teach them a different game. There’s a lot of patterns in indoor and the game repeats itself. Once they understand that, I think it would be really successful.”
Before Miller and company make a final decision on the indoor squad, he has some unfinished business to take care of in the great outdoors. The Lancers host the Erie Commodores in their final NPSL regular-season game at Aquinas Institute in Rochester at 4 p.m. Saturday. Rochester must win to have a chance to reach the postseason.
Miller, who was optimistic about clinching a berth, said he wasn’t under any pressure.
“My work is really done,” said. “It’s now for the players to come out. It’s their game. I’m just going to be there to motivate them and inspire them to play for the logo that’s on the front of the jersey. Hopefully we will come out with a victory because I believe that if we win today, we will make the playoffs.”