In the club’s second season under the ownership of David and Wendy Dworkin, the Rochester Rhinos are hoping to receive more support from the community.
The Dworkins first season of ownership was last year, as they completed their purchase of the team in early 2016. According to figures they have reported, the Rhinos lost $1.7 million and their attendance dropped to a per-game average of 3,655 fans, the lowest such figure in franchise history.
The Dworkins were not formally introduced by the USL until March of last year. Since then, a major change has taken place in Rochester’s soccer landscape, as the NWSL’s Western New York Flash–which formerly shared Capelli Sport Stadium with the Rhinos–relocated to Cary, NC prior to the 2017 season.
Given the financial losses and declining attendance, the Dworkins have some concerns about the future of the Rhinos. However, they intend to bolster community support going forward, and are looking to make adjustments to their operations for 2017. More from The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle:
Off the field, the front office has been beefed to 10 people with two specifically designated to drum up business. Penfield native Mark Washo is in his second second as Chief Business Officer and Scott Miller has been added to the staff. Both have former Major League Soccer experience. Miller is dedicated specifically to finding corporate support.
“It’s not always easy getting people to try something new,” Wendy Dworkin said.
Adding Dinosaur Bar-B-Que to the stadium food lineup is among the enhancements this season that the owners hope attracts fans.
The Dworkins bought the Rhinos after city officials terminated the city’s agreement with former owner Rob Clark’s Adirondack Sports Group, which owned the team from 2008-15. Unhappy with Clark’s management, the USL worked with the city and took over the Rhinos for several weeks. The Dworkins were formally introduced in early March. Despite the optimism of new ownership and coming off a USL championship in 2015, attendance dipped to 3,655 per match last year — ninth in the USL — and the lowest in team history.
“I think David and Wendy have put their heart and soul in this venture and they put their checkbook in it, too,” said Tim Curtin, Corporate Council for the city of Rochester, the stadium owner. “They’re doing everything they possibly can. I think they’re struggling with attendance, but they’re working on improvements. I can’t think of a thing they’re not trying.”
Efforts to attract more sponsors are continuing, with a corporate partner for the club’s jerseys being one possibility. The Rhinos did secure a new stadium naming rights partner over the offseason, as an agreement with Capelli Sport was announced in January. The club will play its home opener on Saturday.
Image courtesy Rochester Rhinos.