Dispute Between Rochester Rhinos, City Going to Court

Rochester Rhinos

The Rochester Rhinos are seeking a court order to prevent the termination of their Capelli Sport Stadium lease, marking the latest turn in their dispute with the city. 

The City of Rochester and the Rhinos have been at odds over the organization’s status for 2018. Citing financial difficulties, the Rhinos announced last fall that they would not field a team for the 2018 USL season, but indicated that they would remain a member in good standing with the league. The city, which owns Capelli Sport Stadium, later claimed that the decision put the Rhinos in default of their lease as operator of the facility. However, Rhinos owners David and Wendy Dworkin disputed that notion, believing that they would still be able to meet the terms of their lease despite not fielding a team in 2018.

Negotiations to settle the dispute have been unfolding, but reportedly the two sides have been unable to agree to a settlement. On Monday, the Rhinos sought a court order that would effectively bar the city from terminating the lease and evicting the organization. The state supreme court is expected to consider the issue later this week. More from The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle:

“Unfortunately, we were not able to finalize a settlement, despite our good faith efforts in discussions with the city over many weeks,” Rhinos owners David and Wendy Dworkin said in a statement issued shortly before 5 p.m. Monday. “We were willing to continue negotiations, but the city refused to extend the agreed-upon deadline.”

That deadline was to expire at midnight Tuesday. City officials argue the Dworkins are in default of their lease as stadium operators because they will not field a team in the USL for the 2018 season.

“After half-a-dozen tentative agreements, the negotiation became one of ever-moving goal posts with no end or resolution in sight,” city spokesman James Smith said in a statement. “While the stadium operator felt it was okay to cease their soccer operations in order to save dollars, they are now seeking a court order to deny city taxpayers a similar opportunity, which seems patently unfair.”

The city sought additional reimbursement toward utilities, should the Rhinos remain in control of the stadium without generating the level of economic activity seen when the Rhinos were in action, officials said. The city subsidizes the stadium at a level of roughly $600,000 a year.

According to The Democrat & Chronicle, the Dworkins argue that they will be able to host enough events at Capelli Sport Stadium in 2018 to fulfill their lease requirements. In the absence of Rhinos’ matches, the stadium could still host professional soccer games, amateur leagues, and other events such as festivals.

Image courtesy Rochester Rhinos

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