By CHARLIE CORR – firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, December 28, 2015
Newly appointed Harrisburg City Islanders President Roy Mehl has been a fixture within the Harrisburg community for a number of years.
He has shared a connection with Islanders majority owner Eric Pettis both on the business and playing side, and transitioning to the club made strong sense for all parties when it was officially announced on Dec. 7 that Mehl would be joining the club.
“We’ve always talked, for many years on and off, and the timing was right,” Mehl said during the 2015 USL Winter Summit. “I am excited about the plans for the club, the footprint, getting more fans from the Lancaster area and the York area. I’m excited about the growth of the team, so we felt the time was right, to bring what I could to the organization and help grow the business from there.
“I was a consultant for basically the past 15 years or so, came back into the area, and through that whole time Eric and I played together in club ball and we’ve remained friends,” Mehl said. “I’m a big friend of the team, as well, so it just kind of worked out.”
While Mehl admits there have been some shortcomings in terms of the “fan experience” standpoint, he firmly believes that the dedicated support, combined with some necessary adjustments, will create an environment that will improve during his tenure.
“We have two venues that we’ll be playing in, which is much better than our current Skyline [Sports Complex],” Mehl said. “We had great success down in Lancaster at the Barnstormers’ stadium – great crowds there. It makes for a completely different experience for our fans.”
That total-package element of attending a game is something Mehl and the Islanders brass are truly honed in on moving forward.
“The amenities there are just not up to par,” Mehl said of Skyline. “Fans who go to the game, you have to absolutely just love soccer. I can see why we wouldn’t get returning visitors to our current stadium. There wasn’t really an opportunity to take people for a business outing and socialize. We just didn’t have that. But the new venues will have boxes. I think that’s the biggest growth that we’ll see.”
The Islanders certainly are looking to benefit from a team president that has had the pulse of the Harrisburg community since his youth playing days. Mehl grew up in Lancaster County, and following high school he played college ball at Lock Haven University. On the business side, Mehl has been a partner with Angelo’s Soccer Corner, and one tie-in he had during that stretch was working with the Harrisburg Heat, where current Islanders Head Coach Bill Becher had played.
Heading into his first season with the club, Mehl describes his approach as one that will strike a balance of being in the public light but also being a behind-the-scenes worker who can rely on a dedicated staff to handle their respective departments and expertise.
“I’m a little in between,” Mehl said. “I think it’s important for me to be out there. I’m selling our brand, just as much as anyone else is, and creating relationships and things like that. But at the same time, we’ve got a great staff that can do what they need to do with their particular roles. It’s the same approach as I have taken when I consult. It’s definitely geared toward relationship building and getting things done.”
Mehl recently took part in his first Winter Summit in Clearwater Beach, Fla. in early December and came away thoroughly absorbed by the direction of the USL and its growth.
“I’m really impressed with the league,” Mehl said. “I expected to see something that was strong, and I’m even more impressed coming down here just several days into the job. The growth that the USL has had and the backing of the league, I certainly feel more confident.”