By Michael Lewis
With a Thursday deadline to obtain the proper paperwork to return to the Major Arena Soccer League, Rochester Lancers co-owner Soccer Sam Fantauzzo has serious doubts the team will return for the 2017-18 season.
The Lancers have not heard from the City of Rochester about a letter of understanding to play games at the Blue Cross Arena in the downtown area, Fantauzzo said in an email Thursday morning.
“I think it’s over for this year,” he said in the email.
“We will focus on our two outdoor teams for now and we hope to bring indoor back next season,” he added. “LancerMania will continue in May at the Aquinas Institute.”
The Lancers brought back their indoor brand in May with the men’s team participating in the National Premier Soccer League and the Lady Lancers competing in United Women’s Soccer.
Fantauzzo said he and Lancers president Doug Miller met with Rochester officials last Thursday.
“They promised a letter of understanding — a lease — by the next morning, last Friday!” he said. “They had to talk to BCA … officials to secure dates and price. Doug Miller has reached out daily without any updates. MASL officials extended our time until today and still no response.”
The soccer team was presented with weekday dates and games on NFL Sundays. They were hoping BCA would free up a couple of weekend dates it had been holding for possible concerts.
The Lancers had three potential venues at which to play, including the Dome Arena in suburban Henrietta and at the Gene Polisseni Center on the campus of Rochester Institute of Technology.
Both sites had issues. The Dome Arena needed to bring in additional seating to reach the league minimum of 4,000, which it could not do at this juncture. The Polisseni Center has issues with the ice being 10-12 inches lower than the area behind boards.
“We never anticipated issues with all three of the possible indoor venues,” Fantauzzo said. “We have a year to fix issues at the Dome and RIT and hopefully something changes at the BCA in the next few months.”
The indoor Lancers started playing in the Major Indoor Soccer League in the 2011-12 season before switching to the MASL. They shut down after the 2014-15 season with the hope of returning in the future.