USL 1 Lansing Ignite folds after one year of operation
One-and-done is a term no longer limited to the coming and goings of college basketball players, as third-tier USL League 1 outfit Lansing Ignite is ceasing operation after one season, the club announced Monday.
Team officials cited numerous "economic factors" for shutting down operations.
The Ignite (12-10-6) finished second overall before bowing out to Greenville 1-0 in the semifinals.
The team averaged 2,788 fans a match at Cooley Law School Stadium, which ranked third in the 10-team pro circuit. Only Forward Madison FC (4,292) and Richmond Kickers (3,468) drew more people on average, according to Stadium Digest.
The Ignite needed to average 4,000 fans a game to be sustainable, according to reports.
"We are extremely disappointed to make this announcement, and we know our fans will be disappointed too," Ignite owner Tom Dickson said in a statement. "We brought the team to Lansing with high hopes for success, but due to business realities, we simply have no option other than to discontinue the operation.
"Rest assured, we left no stone unturned looking for ways to continue beyond 2019 — and simply could not find a viable path forward."
One major cost involved converting Cooley Stadium — home of baseball's Single A Midwest League Lansing Lugnuts — into a soccer venue for every match. That included covering the infield with sod.
The soccer field ran from left-field line to the right-field wall. The configuration made sightlines for viewing soccer difficult.
Officials waited until the conclusion of this weekend's USL1 title match — won by North Texas SC — to confirm the club was ceasing operations.
Players received the news shortly after the 1-0 playoff loss to Greenville in a meeting attended by team president Nick Grueser, general manager Jeremy Sampson and coach Nate Miller.
Midfielder Marshall Hollingsworth, who shared what he knew on Instagram, spoke out at the meeting.
"The explanation was pretty small," Hollingsworth said in an interview on WKAR's "Current Sports with Al Martin." "Obviously, it didn't sit well with many of us.
"It doesn't feel right. Based on the uniqueness of this group and the potential the city of Lansing has shown for pro soccer, it's disappointing and I don't think it's fair to the staff who sacrificed and moved here for a short 10 months."