By Michael Lewis
Rochester Lancers owner Soccer Sam Sam Fantauzzo said Monday night that there wasa 90 percent chance his team would play in the Major Arena Soccer League second tier this winter.
Speaking on the Soccer is a Kick in the Grass radio show, Fantauzzo said the team likely will play in MASL 2, rather than the first division.
Six games will be played at the Dome Arena in suburban Henrietta, N.Y., south of Rochester. All games will be played on Friday or Sunday night, according to Fantauzzo. Depending on how the team fares, there could be two playoff dates there as well.
The Lancers have signed a lease with the Dome Arena and have put in an application with the league. The MASL will announce its first division schedule Tuesday at noon ET.
“We have had somewhat of a verbal response that we’re in,” Fantauzzo said, adding that there was “most likely a 90 percent chance of playing at the Dome Arena this January. Indoor soccer will be back.”
Fantauzzo added that Lancers president Doug Miller had secured the indoor soccer boards that were used at the Blue Cross Arena in downtown Rochester and were being delivered to the Arena Monday night. The team also has secured new indoor turf and a video scoreboard.
“Year one, it may not be exactly what we want, but it will do the job,” he said.
The MASL is expected to meet Thursday to vote on Rochester’s application.
“This is our dilemma,” Fantauzzo said. “In Thursday’s meeting with the MASL, they’re most likely going to vote us down because of the size of the arena. … It’s too late in the game.”
The capacity of the Dome Arena is slightly less than 4,000, which just misses MASL 1 minimum standards.
But Fantauzzo was optimistic for the future.
“If the building’s full I think MASL 1 will roll out the red carpet for us in the future,” he said.
Fantauzzo told the radio show he was impressed with improvements at the Arena, which included new concession stands, new bathrooms and locker rooms.
“Everything is brand spanking new,” he said. “You won’t recognize the place.”
He added: “If I got married again, it would be at the Dome Arena. Every aspect of it, it feels like a new building. … You feel like you’re in Las Vegas, like a fancy night club.”
The Lancers also want to place a bid to host the MASL 2 final in March.
Ticket prices have not been finalized, but Fantauzzo said his front-office staff is working on a plan to make it affordable for families.
“We want to make it reasonable for families,” he said, adding that the club wants to create one ticket that would allow fans to attend any Lancers’ match, including MASL, National Premier Soccer League and the Lady Lancers in United Women’s Soccer.
Fantauzzo noted that the Arena was only six miles from downtown roster and had free parking, unlike the Blue Cross Arena. The Lancers played at BCA in the Major Indoor Soccer League and MASL from 2011-2015.
Miller, who has guided the Lancers in the outdoor NPSL the last two seasons, is expected to return as indoor coach. Mark Mandell, general manager of the NPSL team, will have a similar role with the indoor side. Ditto for Nick Mojsovski as assistant GM.
“Doug is not officially the coach,” Fantauzzo said. “He’s president and one of the owners. He most likely will be the coach.
“It will be the same group that ran the team in the outdoor capacity.”
Miller is talking to former Lancers players for the indoor squad, Fantzuzzo said.
At the present time, M2 has 11 teams lined up.
In the Eastern Conference, the Chicago Mustangs, Cincinnati Swerve, Colorado Blizzard, Muskegon Risers and Detroit Waza Flo will compete.
The Arizona Impact, Colorado Inferno FC, Las Vegas Knights, New Mexico Runners, Ontario Fury II and San Diego Sockers 2 comprise the Western Conference.
Asked by radio show hosts Andrew Battisti if other Rochester sports teams would be playing in the facility this winter, Fantauzzo replied, “Right now we’ll most likely be the only sports team playing there this year. Doug has got calls into everywhere in the country to bring in some exhibitions.”