By Michael Lewis
The Rochester Lancers find themselves in a precious position as they strive to return to the Major Arena Soccer League.
They need to provide the league a lease for the 2017-18 season, and they haven’t obtained one from either the Blue Cross Arena or the Dome Arena in Rochester, N.Y.
On the weekly Saturday show, Kick This! last week, Lancers owner Doug Miller said coming back to play indoor soccer was 95 percent certain.
But the final five percent has been the hardest part to secure.
“This five percent chance is looking scary,” Kick This! host Soccer Sam Fantauzzo said this Saturday afternoon.
Fantauzzo, who purchased the rights to the Lancers name and logo years ago, has agreed to license it to Miller and his ownership group.
Any prospective team in the MASL must provide the league with a lease by Tuesday morning, according to Soccer Sam.
Neither arena has responded to Miller regarding the lease.
“The Dome Arena — I was under the impression was all set to go — was having issues finding the bleachers that are needed to make the building meet the league standard — minimal league standard of 4,000 seats,” Fantauzzo said. “So, as of right now, one o’clock almost on Saturday, Doug Miller doesn’t have a lease.”
MASL commissioner Josh Schaub is supposed to have a vote and a decision on which teams will turn to the league, according to Soccer Sam, who added that Miller’s attorney was “ready to go with his letter, what they’re going to do and how they want to help this community and the growth of soccer, indoor soccer in America.”
“But you can’t play a game without a building and there’s only two buildings in Rochester, one being the Blue Cross Arena and the other being the Dome Arena,” Fantauzzo continued. “There’s no way in heck that Doug Miller is going to be able to provide the MASL with dates by this Tuesday. It’s not going to happen. It never happened in the past. It’s usually after [August] 15 that they give dates.
“So, if the MASL doesn’t give them a couple of extra weeks because there is no way Doug Miller and his group is going to have a lease in place. And the league is not going to let them back into the league without a lease. That’s where we are at now.”
Miller could not be reached for comment. He was on vacation with his family Saturday.
“Doug, if you are listening to I-heart radio on your vacation, buddy, I hope I didn’t spill the beans here,” Fantauzzo said. “You don’t have a lease yet. You don’t have a lease for the Blue Cross Arena, you don’t have a lease for the Dome Arena. And you have ’til Tuesday. Good luck man. Nobody works weekends any more. You’ve got Monday and Tuesday.”
The Dome Arena, which recently was upgraded, has a seating capacity of 4,086. The team would be the first or second tenant, which will help in acquiring the best playing dates.
The Blue Cross Arena 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. So, the team would be at the mercy of the other team’s schedules and desires.
The Lancers played indoor soccer for four seasons before going dormant after the 2014-15 MASL campaign.