MILWAUKEE, Wis. – The Milwaukee Wave, the last team to win a Major Arena Soccer League championship, Monday announced the cancellation of its 2020-21 season.
The 2018-19 champions were poised to defend their championship title before last season ended early due to the COVID-19 pandemic The Wave, however, could not come to an agreement with the Wisconsin Center District that would allow for their use of the Panther Arena.
The Wave made the announcement via a press release.
Milwaukee was the longest running pro soccer franchise in the United States, enjoying a run of 36 years.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty as far as when and if the Milwaukee Health Department will allow attendance at live sports events, and, if so, how many people can safely share a space,” Wave owner Mike Zimmerman said in a statement. “So, the District can’t give us a line of sight past January 1 to open the arena at capacity limits that work for us. Currently the limit is 250 and we need closer to 4,000.”
It was not immediately known how this will affect the MASL, which is looking into returning to play in late December or early 2021. The league immediately did not have a comment.
If the league does return, it will be without several teams. Both Mexican clubs, Monterrey and Sonora, can’t play because of travel restrictions between their country and the U.S. It is the same for the MetroStars of Canada.
The Rochester Lancers compete in the MASL.
In early September, management of the Wisconsin Center District – which collects ticket surcharges from Fiserv Forum and hosts three teams at the Panther Arena – predicted that there would be no fan-attended sports games before the end of 2020 for the Milwaukee Bucks’ Fiserv Forum or for the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena’s Panthers, Milwaukee Admirals and Milwaukee Wave.
In the middle of that month, Wisconsin Center District employees were notified of sweeping layoffs and furloughs that impacted 88 percent of the publicly funded district’s fulltime staff.
It was reported last Friday that the Wisconsin Center District budget assumes there will not be any games at the Panther Arena until fall of 2021.
“The bottom line for sports entertainment is you have to be able to sell tickets and provide advance group sales opportunities in order to ‘feed the beast,’ ” Zimmerman said. “We also need a schedule and the ability to start selling 90 days in advance. Right now, there is too much uncertainty to accomplish any of that.”
There was no MASL champion for the 2019-20 season due to the pandemic.