From Gymnasiums to the Arena
setting the stage
It was two and a half years ago when City kicked off their first professional game, at the small Doty center that barely held 300 people at Great Lakes Christian college. City took on the Futsal Factory from Detroit. This game would set the tone for the next two and a half year futsal run. Lansing was officially introduced to futsal and the response was ecstatic. The vision of Lansing City was clear. This was not going to be your average youth sports club. This was about something bigger. It was about taking the sport of futsal to new heights in the Midwest and in the U.S. As you talked to members of the core grassroots of City, you could sense this crazy belief of what futsal would become in Lansing. It was absurdly foolish but sometimes foolish ideas are the best kind.
In the first year and a half of Lansing City, there was rapid growth on both the professional side and the youth academy side. The youth grew from 5 teams to 22 and featured 5 teams who qualified for the youth National tournament. On the professional side, City began to attract some serious talent and some serious crowds...for futsal at least. There were two moments that stood out above the rest in this opening act. These two moments gave a glimpse of what futsal could become. It was a preview that teased with the possibilities. The first, it was the summer of 2017 and Lansing City was kicking off their first game in the Aim High sports complex after outgrowing the small Doty Center. They were taking on arguably the best professional team on the east coast, Sporting Maryland FC. As fans began to trickle into the facility and the teams started to warm up, you could sense an understanding that this time was different than all the games before. As the game began, that feeling was confirmed. The level of play was extremely high. Both teams featuring U.S National team players, futsal professionals from Brazil, Spain, and the Dominican Republic, and up and coming futsal talents from the USA. The complex, while not packed out, was full of new fans that fell in love with the game that day. The game was one for the record books and ended with City upsetting Maryland in the final minutes of the game. This is the game the catapulted City to another level. The second moment was in the Winter of 2017/18. City was playing rival ABK from Grand Rapids at home at the same Aim High sports complex. This time there was not one seat empty. It was standing room only. The anticipation in the complex was almost tangible. The simple fact that a futsal game was garnishing this kind of grass roots attention was unheard of.
The game ended with City winning and closing out the 'opening act' act of futsal in Lansing. Futsal was here to stay.
The following summer (Summer of 2018) City kicked off a new season in a new facility. The Summit Sports Complex partnered with Lansing City to provide a one of a kind playing environment that resonated across the league. Huge banners hung from the ceiling surrounding the massive black and blue international sized futsal court. City would travel all across the east coast, playing in Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore as well as Toronto and Columbus. They also hosted 6 home games, playing against teams from all over the country. It was a season not only to remember but to cherish. Players flying to play away games and then returning home to their very own court to train and play home games. It was the first taste of having a home.
the little club that could
As the summer season was winding down, the members of the front office of Lansing City began to act extra happy. It was like it was Christmas in July. The smile on coach Derby's face could be seen for miles. The deal that City had been working on for over a year was finally sealed, and nobody knew. Not a fan or academy member knew what had been planned from the inception. It was the "secret deal" that would launch City to the front page and bring futsal to a truly exceptional level with a unlimited future. There was much discussion of how to release the big news. A ribbon cutting? A press conference? A news paper story? The answer was no. Just a story. A true and genuine story of how this came to be. How a little club through grit and determination could grow to be able to showcase this beautiful game of futsal at a truly professional level.
Welcome to Lansing City. Welcome to Lansing City Arena.