SoccerSam Fantauzzo: “It’s definitely been a roller coaster ride. We’re happy to be back.” (Photo courtesy of the Rochester Lancers)
By Michael Lewis
When the Rochester Lancers return to the great indoors as Lancers2 next year, the team just might have some familiar faces on its roster.
Club owner SoccerSam Fantauzzo strongly hinted that on Monday night when talking about head coach Jake Schindler.
“I can’t wait for this whole thing to go,” Fantauzzo said on the Soccer is a Kick in the Grass Radio Show on Monday night. “Jake had some big surprises coming up through this coaching staff that he told me about today that he’ll announce on your show in the near future. And some players that I am shocked that are returning to the Lancers. I am shocked. So, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Fantauzzo wouldn’t say which coaches or players would return.
The Lancers2 will participate in Major Arena Soccer League 2 starting in January. The team will play at the Rochester Regional Health Total Sports Experience East Rochester, N.Y.
It will be the team’s first indoor games since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020.
“It’s definitely been a roller coaster ride,” Fantauzzo told co-hosts Andrew Battisti and Joe Sirianni. “We’re happy to be back.”
Fantauzzo gave some background on how the team discovered its new venue.
“We knew the Blue Cross Arena would never let us play there again, based on all the conversations we had,” he said. “We knew there was something in the works with the Dome Arena, which hasn’t been announced yet, but it’s really positive news for our county and our city.”
The club was approached by M2 commissioner Chris Economides, who was the president and general manager of the Rochester Rhinos (now Rochester NY FC) about joining his league.
“We’re really trying to build your division. We have this going on and that going on and these teams coming in next year and we you least take a risk this year.”
Fantauzzo met with TSE general manager Jamie Hammond and something clicked.
“I saw a vision that I hadn’t seen before,” he said, adding that he thought that “this can be a really cool boutique venue with limited seating but a really cozy atmosphere for our players and our fans.”
A limited number of season tickets, about 100, went on sale today, Tuesday. Many season tickets holders from the 2019-20 MASL season have retained their seats.
“We’re pretty much halfway there,” Fantauzzo said. “This is not about selling tickets this year. It’s about developing players getting them a chance to go to the next level.”
M2 is a developmental indoor soccer league.
Several MASL teams, including Utica City FC, Baltimore Blast and Harrisburg Heat, are interested in seeing how Lancers2 develops its player.
“I think it’d be a win-win for everyone involved,” Fantauzzo said.
Lancers2 will kick off their season with four consecutive road matches, starting with back-to-back games at the Muskegon Risers on Jan. 6 and 7. Rochester will host the Iowa Demon Hawks in its home opening contests on consecutive days on Feb. 24 and 25.
“We tried to load up our home season later,” Fantauzzo said. “It gave us more time to get a lot of things ready that we need to get ready at TSE, including our amazing production team. We’re going do a lot with Lancers TV and get and get all these players exposure they deserve. It can be fun.
“I met a lot of the owners at the M2 and M1 meetings a couple weeks ago in Dallas. A lot of great guys, a lot of owners that could easily be in M1, but decided for the same reasons that we’re doing this. They’re doing it for different reasons. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
When the club went to the Dome Arena in Henrietta, N.Y. to get its indoor carpet and other supplies in storage, Fantauzzo said he found plaques of the Lancers Wall of Fame that originally were hung at the Blue Cross Arena.
“I’m going to find a really nice place to put all those recipients of the Lancer legends somewhere where people can see them for many years to come,” he said.
Fans interested in purchasing season tickets can visit www.RochesterLancers.com.