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Rochester Lancers To Return In 2011

July 22, 2010 - Indoor Professional Soccer (I-League) - Rochester Lancers News Release

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - The Rochester Lancers are returning to the Western New York sports scene. In a news conference today at Blue Cross Arena, Chris Wilmot and Salvatore "Soccer Sam" Fantauzzo of Saving Soccer, LLC announced that they have purchased a franchise in Professional Indoor Soccer (the "I-League"), a new United Soccer Leagues (USL) national professional men's indoor league that is scheduled to begin play in 2011.

The new Rochester Lancers will feature the familiar blue and gold uniforms, and one of the organization's goals will be to help support the development of youth soccer in the area, with a portion of all profits donated to local clubs in need. Announcements of additional members of the ownership group and key staff members are expected to be made within the next 30 days.

Wilmot, a former Monroe County legislator and part owner of the Rochester Rhinos, will serve as President of Saving Soccer, LLC and the Lancers. Fantauzzo will serve as Founder/CEO.

"Soccer is the only unifying principle on the earth," Wilmot said. "I am proud to be involved with a brand new indoor league and the resurrection of an iconic soccer franchise name. I've known Sam Fantauzzo for a number of years and we're both Rochester boys through and through. We're not just launching this franchise because we love soccer, but because we believe in our hometown, Soccer Town USA." "We will offer affordable family fun and pay tribute to the pioneers of Rochester Pro Soccer... the Lancers," Fantauzzo said. The team will play its home games at Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial, a historic, state-of-the-art downtown facility that also serves as the home to several other local sports franchises.

"On behalf of the City of Rochester and SMG, the management team for the arena, we are excited for the return of the Lancers to Rochester," Blue Cross Arena General Manager Jeff Calkins said. "We hope the passion and enthusiasm displayed by the members of Saving Soccer, LLC to bring the exciting indoor game to the Blue Cross Arena will be the springboard for a long tenure in Rochester."

The I-League is scheduled to kick off in November of 2011 and conclude with its inaugural championship in February/March, 2012. Competition will be regionally based, in order to contain travel expenses. Details regarding I-League format and competition will be released at a later date. USL is expected to announce additional I-League franchises in Syracuse, New York and Hampton Roads, Virginia in the near future. Several other markets are currently participating in advanced discussions about joining the I-League as well. Short-term plans for the league include regional divisions in the Northeast, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, Mid-South and Southeast.

"We are extremely excited to not only announce the formation of the I-League, but the addition of the Rochester Lancers as one of the founding franchises," Senior Director of USL PRO Chris Economides said. "Rochester has proven time and again to be a fantastic soccer market, and with experienced management like Chris Wilmot and 'Soccer Sam' Fantauzzo leading the way, the Lancers are guaranteed to be a success."

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Rochester Lancer History

On June 30, 1963, the Italian-American Soccer Club won the US National Amateur Cup. And in 1966, they almost duplicated the feat, but unfortunately lost in the final. Although the loss, many members of the Italian-American Sport Club felt their team was ready to step-up to the professional ranks and join the American Soccer League (ASL). One prominent club member, Tony Pullano, organized a group led by Pat Dinolfo, Charlie Schiano, and Rudy LePore to purchase an ASL Pro Soccer franchise.

The Rochester Lancers Were Born !

The Rochester Lancers played in the American Soccer League from 1967 until 1969 and in the North American Soccer League from 1970 to 1980 at Aquinas Stadium (renamed Holleder Memorial Stadium in 1974). The Lancers played in America's first Indoor Soccer Tournament in 1974. Several key Rochester Lancers players and coaches were involved with the development of indoor soccer and the MISL.

The Lancers won the NASL championship in their first season in 1970. The Lancers hosted the world-famous New York Cosmos in a nationally televised North American Soccer League semifinal game at Holleder Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 21, 1977 before a capacity crowd of 20,005. That was a record home crowd for Rochester Sports. The Lancers then played the Cosmos at the Giants Stadium in front of a crowd of over 77,000 fans. Unfortunately the Cosmos won the series. The Lancers averaged 8,200 fans per game in their 11 year history.

The Rochester Lancers owners, players, trainers and front office staff, were the pioneers of Pro Indoor and Outdoor Soccer in America. We thank them.

On July 21st 2010, the USL announced the formation of the I-League Indoor Professional Soccer League. The Rochester Lancers will be part of this league that will start in November 2011.

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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