After a COVID-19 pandemic-driven hiatus that affected the past two seasons, the Milwaukee Wave will return to action.
Team owner Mike Zimmerman announced Tuesday that the team has a new lease agreement with the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena for the 2021-22 season.
The Milwaukee Wave, who captured the Major Arena Soccer League’s championship in the 2018-19 campaign, had to forego last season due to pandemic-related restrictions. The team returns with the core of its championship squad intact, including Ian Bennett, Marcio Leite, Luan Olivera, Andre Hayne, Josh Lemos, Daniel Chamale, Angel Curiel and Stuart Grable.
The Wave was poised to defend their 2018-19 title before the 2019-20 season was cut short due to the emergence of COVID-19. The pandemic also forced the cancellation of the Wave’s 2020-21 season after the team was unable to reach an agreement with the Wisconsin Center District for the use of the Panther Arena. A main issue stemmed from arena capacity limits in place at the time that had been set by the Milwaukee Health Department in an effort to stem the spread of virus.
“Thanks to a new one-year lease agreement with Panther Arena, we can get back on the turf,” Zimmerman said. “I think our entire organization looks at this season as a chance to defend our championship after an unforeseen interruption.”
Founded in 1984, the Wave is the oldest continuously operating professional soccer team in the United States and has won seven championships.
The team has used the time off for a “tune up,” according to Zimmerman. The Wave now has a new home training center at the Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Hospital Performance Center located at the Rock Sports Complex in Franklin. The team will work with EXOS Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine and the Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Hospital as its training partners.
“This was a long time in the making, and the pieces are all coming together,” Zimmerman said.
The Wave is managed by Franklin-based ROC Ventures, which operates several sports, entertainment, and real estate entities that include the Milwaukee Milkmen, an independent professional baseball team that won the 2020 American Association championship; The Rock Sports Complex; a summer college baseball franchise; and the mixed-use Ballpark Commons development featuring a new baseball stadium and Luxe Golf Bays.
The Wave’s home opener is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. on Dec. 18 versus the Baltimore Blast. The New Year’s Eve game, a traditional fan favorite, will start at 3:05 p.m., also on the Panther Arena turf.
“Our coaching staff and players are very excited to be back playing at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena in front of the best fans in the MASL,” Wave head coach Giuliano Oliviero said.
MASL’s regular-season schedule will feature 12 teams playing a total of 144 games. The league will consist of three divisions with each team playing a 24-game schedule, with 12 games at home and 12 on the road.
The Wave will compete in the Central Division with the Dallas Sidekicks, Kansas City Comets and St. Louis Ambush.
The league will be announcing its playoff format in the coming days, along with a new standings format that will be a points-based system, similar to other indoor sports leagues. The entire Wave schedule can be found at milwaukeewave.com.