USL Press Release
July 21, 2010
TAMPA, Fla. – United Soccer Leagues continues to spur the growth of soccer in North America with the launch of Indoor Professional Soccer (the “I-League”), a national professional men’s indoor league that is scheduled to begin play in 2011. The formal introduction of the USL I-League was made today at a news conference in Rochester, New York featuring one of the new league’s founding franchises – the Rochester Lancers.
Announcements regarding additional I-League franchises in Syracuse, New York and Hampton Roads, Virginia are expected shortly with several other markets currently participating in advanced discussions with USL. Short-term plans for the league include regional divisions in the Northeast, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, Mid-South and Southeast.
“Today’s announcement was made possible by a lot of hard work and dedication from many people, but it’s only the first step in what will ultimately become an exciting new entertainment option for soccer fans throughout the United States and Canada,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said. “With the direction and leadership provided by USL’s experienced management team, the USL I-League is destined to become a huge success while providing many new opportunities for players and fans alike.”
The establishment of the I-League fills a marketplace need for a professional indoor soccer league model that is economically viable for team owners. The I-League is scheduled to kick off in November of 2011 and conclude with its inaugural championship in February/March, 2012. Consistent with the model that has properly served USL for the past quarter-century, competition will be regionally based in order to contain travel expenses, and culminate with a national championship. USL intends to affiliate the I-League directly with the U.S. Soccer Federation, which is currently without a sanctioned professional indoor soccer league. Details regarding I-League format and competition will be released at a later date.
“One of the most exciting aspects of the I-League is that it will provide existing USL professional outdoor teams with the ability to operate on a year-round basis,” USL President Tim Holt said. “Additionally, the teams would have the opportunity to retain many of their established players for the entire year.”
The Rochester Lancers will be owned and operated by Saving Soccer, LLC, which is comprised of several local business leaders, including Chris Wilmot and Salvatore “Soccer Sam” Fantauzzo. The Lancers name has a rich history in Rochester, as the original franchise was founded as a professional outdoor club in 1967 and thrilled local fans for 14 years.
While indoor soccer is often thought of as a modern creation, the rich history of the game dates as far back as 1885, when a Canadian side faced a team from New Jersey in a series of games. Professional indoor soccer of today is a fast-paced, fiercely competitive game that features creative dribbling, pinpoint passing and acrobatic goalkeeping.