With the recent announcement of the Cleveland Crunch’s return to professional indoor soccer (see our article covering the announcement), fans in Northeast Ohio have clamored for more information regarding the Crunch’s return for the 2021-22 season. Recently, I had the opportunity to submit interview questions to Crunch VP Luciano Ruscitto via email. He was gracious enough to return the answers found below.
Q: Before discussing the Crunch, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
A: I am 27 years old. I grew up in Wickliffe, OH, attended Wickliffe High School, Lake Erie College and Kent State University. I graduated from Kent State University with a Master of Education Degree in 2017. Currently, I am a special education teacher for Mentor City Schools.
Q: What has been your involvement with soccer? Were you a Crunch fan as a child?
A: I started playing soccer at the age of four. I immediately fell in love with the game and it has been a huge part of my life ever since. Growing up, I was a huge fan of the Crunch. I have so many great memories of meeting players, going to games at the Wolstein Center and attending summer youth camps. Currently, I am an assistant coach for the boys soccer team at Mentor High School. Prior to my coaching days, I played for Wickliffe High School and continued my academic and playing career at Lake Erie College, a DII school located in Painesville, OH.
Q: How did the idea to bring back the Crunch get started?
A: The idea to bring back the Crunch originated with our team president, Eric Davis. Eric and I met at Lake Erie College back in 2012 when we were teammates on the soccer team and we have been close friends ever since. Back in April, I noticed him posting about the glory days of the Crunch on Instagram and our conversation led us to question the fact about why indoor soccer left Cleveland in the first place. So we did some research and discovered that the trademark has been dead since 2001 and that there was an opportunity to purchase the naming rights and brand a new logo.
Additionally, Eric reached out to the league by submitting an application for an expansion team. This allowed us to make contact with the MASL front office officials, who essentially gave us the green light to get the application process going.
Q: Now that you are the Vice President of Operations for the Crunch, what are your day-to-day responsibilities for the club?
A: As Vice President of Operations for the Cleveland Crunch, my primary role is to assist in overseeing strategic day-to-day operations across all segments of the business and implement executive level-decision making that reflects the best interest of the organization.
Q: I read that the biggest factor for the club is finding an appropriate venue in downtown Cleveland and that you are in ongoing conversations with a couple of sites. How are talks progressing? Are you looking for a smaller venue with the thought of moving to a larger site as the fan base grows or a larger building where the club can grow?
A: We have a few venues of interest in the downtown area that we have been in active conversations with, however, there is no official timeline as to when these conversations will be finalized and an official arena venue will be announced.
Q: On the revenue side of things, has the club entered into any sponsorship deals?
A: We are actively looking for sponsorship deals. So far we have secured several sponsorships including UN1TUS, Primo Sealing, Baenum Hop Farm and The Jolly Scholar Brewing Company.
Q: I believe that the Major Arena Soccer League streams their games on YouTube. Will the Crunch receive a share of whatever revenue that generates? Are there plans to show the Crunch on local TV?
A: Yes, all MASL games will be shown live via MASLtv on YouTube. The Cleveland Crunch plans to show a live stream of every game on our official YouTube channel, “Kickin it with the Crunch.” We are in active talks with local TV stations and plan to broadcast a select amount of games on local TV and radio throughout the season.
Q: How close are you to opening an online team shop? Will your merchandise be in stores outside of the onsite team shop?
A: Our online team shop is set to launch before the end of October. Although we do have future plans to sell our merchandise in stores outside of the onsite team shop, our merchandise will only be available for purchase online in the short-term.
Check back later in the week for part two.