THE Winnipeg Alliance FC soccer team of the Canadian Major Indoor Soccer League (CMISL) has suspended operations.
Team owner Tony Pesce said he cannot afford to field a team due to exorbitant travel costs. The closest Canadian opponent for the Alliance last season were the Edmonton Drillers and Calgary United. The team had to fly to road games in the U.S. in an interlocking schedule with the Professional Arena Soccer League.
Pesce, who had taken over from Keith Gibson as Alliance owner four games into the 2010 season, said the amount of time and money spent on travel was the Alliance's "biggest and only obstacle."
"I have come to the harsh decision that I cannot look at the operation of the team one season at a time, but as to the long-term viability of the team," Pesce said, in an email statement to the Free Press.
"The Alliance is not dead, but only put on the shelf until hopefully more (CMISL) teams come on board that are a little closer to Winnipeg. It saddens me that we cannot continue, however, we leave on a high note with all our relationships."
The indoor game is out of action in the Prairie provinces at this time. Calgary and Edmonton are not playing in the CMISL or the PASL.
CMISL president Mel Kowalchuk did not return a call from the Free Press.
The Alliance's short history in Winnipeg's soccer community has included three owners and three seasons. It began with a showcase game on April 1, 2007 at the MTS Centre in front of 7,727 fans. However the first owner, Denver businessman Bill Stewart, failed to secure any home dates in 2008 so the Alliance played all 10 of its games on the road in relative obscurity.
After Stewart bought a hockey team, operations of the Alliance were suspended for 2009. Gibson and a group of owners started things up again in 2010 before Pesce came on board.
In 2010, the Alliance had a 3-9 season playing out of the Seven Oaks Soccer Complex.
Last season, the Alliance had a 5-7 record and played its home games at the Gateway Recreation Centre where it averaged 241 fans.