By Michael Lewis
The Rochester Lancers are an indoor team without a home.
The Major Arena Soccer League has granted permission for the team to rejoin the league for the 2017-18 season, but the club is still searching for a venue in Rochester, N.Y.
“Arena is a huge unforeseen issue,” Lancers co-owner Soccer Sam Fantauzzo said in an email interview Thursday morning. “I never imagined this would be such a nightmare.
“As of today, we don’t have a place to play. We have a coach, staff, training facility, 12 NPSL [National Premier Soccer League] star players and plenty of great local sponsors with no place to play.”
The Lancers have three possible venues — the Blue Cross Arena in downtown Rochester, their preferred choice, the Dome Arena in suburban Henrietta and the Gene Polisseni Center on the campus of Rochester Institute of Technology. That arena has a capacity of 4,000.
Each arena has had its own unique problem.
The BCA, which seats 10,000, doesn’t have dates that fit into the Lancers’ schedule, Fantauzzo said. The team has been offered Thursday nights and Sundays during the NFL season.
“We attract families and Thursday’s won’t work with school Friday,” Fantauzzo said. “Sunday’s same deal, with mom and dad watching football.”
The Dome Arena, which would have a seating capacity of 4,000, but that hit a hitch as well because arena officials won’t invest $200,000 for more seats to meet the MASL league minimum of 4,000.
After six meeting with venue officials, Fantauzzo said the Dome seemed like a done deal.”
The Polisseni Center has a “major design flaw,” for indoor soccer, according to Fantauzzo, who said the ice is 10-12 inches lower than the area behind boards.”
“We would need to put our goals inside boards and you would have a step up,” he added. “I think this is fixable without spending a fortune.”
Fantauzzo said the Lancers are trying to meet with BCA again to free up some of their weekend hold dates.
“I’m OK with one Thursday and Sundays after NFL season but we need prime Friday and Saturdays,” he said. “We also proposed doubleheaders with Amerks and Hawks as we did in the past. Now the teams get the building for the entire day to hold camps, etc. on game day.
The Amerks are a hockey team, the Hawks are the Nighthawks, a lacrosse team.