Rochester Rhinos announce one-year hiatus
Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - The Rochester Rhinos announced Thursday the team will be taking a one-year hiatus from USL play during the 2018 season.
Two weeks ago, Rochester Rhinos co-owners David and Wendy Dworkin pleaded with the Rochester community for $1.3 million to stay in business. While the team noted the community's rallying following this call, a statement released Thursday read, "Significant gaps remain, including Capelli Sport Stadium's exclusion from receiving a portion of the Hotel Occupancy Tax."
A rally held Tuesday evening at Capelli Sport Stadium had fans heartbroken over the potential of a suspended 2018 season. The team said anyone who had bought season tickets for the 2018 season would be reimbursed starting in December.
The club will reportedly remain in good standing with the USL in the 2018 season. The team also said, in the future, it, "will aim to build on recent momentum with local business leaders and fans to create stronger bonds."
A statement from team co-owner David Dworkin read:
We want to sincerely thank our fans, sponsors, players, coaches and staff for their unwavering enthusiasm, and their attempts to rally others. We will continue to work diligently with supporters, the regional business community and government leaders to solidify a foundation for sustained success, including placing Capelli Sport Stadium on equal footing with other facilities in Monroe County and the City of Rochester.
Capelli Sport Stadium will reportedly continue to hosty concerts, festivals and other events in the coming year.
A spokesperson for the City of Rochester issued the following statement in response to the update from the Rhinos:
The City of Rochester remains supportive of our professional soccer team. While understandable, the decision by the owners of the Rochester Rhinos to suspend play next year is, nonetheless, disappointing on many levels. Rochester has a long history of professional soccer and today’s announcement is clearly a disappointment for our region’s soccer community and fans. Obviously this decision also calls into question the future of the soccer stadium itself and how that will impact the neighborhoods that surround it. Since the City inherited this facility, it has been a budgetary challenge. Nonetheless, Rochester has invested significant funds into the ongoing maintenance, operation and capital needs of the facility – having spent nearly $1.6 million over the past two years alone. While it is disappointing that the Rhinos were not able to attract additional community support for their business model, it is not feasible or appropriate for City government to subsidize the team’s operation given the already large public investment being made in the facility. With the decision to suspend team operations next year, City officials will need to meet with the Rhinos management to discuss how their decision fits within the existing lease agreement.
13WHAM News will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.