Rochester, NY officials are considering long-term plans for the former Rochester Rhinos stadium, with the idea of eventually enclosing the facility floated in those discussions.
Once pitched as a future MLS venue, the former Marina Auto Stadium opened in 2006 for the Rhinos but is no longer the club’s home. As part of an announcement of the club’s planned shift from Division II USL (now USL Championship) to Division III USL (USL League One), Rhinos co-owners David and Wendy Dworkin revealed last August that they would vacate Marina Auto Stadium by the end of 2018 and seek a new home for the club in Monroe County.
In the absence of the Rhinos, Rochester officials are keeping the stadium operational for events such as clinics, camps, and games between local schools. Keeping the facility operational is expected to result in costly annual maintenance expenses–over $900,000 in a 2019-20 budget proposed by Rochester mayor Lovely Warren–but the longer-term goal is for the facility to become a hub for sporting events and training.
One scenario suggested as an “ideal” by Warren is to eventually enclose the facility. It seems that any plans to put a dome of some sort over the venue would be part of a longer-term strategy, but it would be part of a vision to make the venue active on a year-round basis. More from News10NBC:
“I did ask for quarterly updates from the commissioner so that we can have a sense of how popular this facility is going to be among the local sports teams who are out there and may want to use it,” Councilmember Molly Clifford said.
The stadium is in Clifford’s district. She questioned Warren over its future during a recent meeting which led to a surprising answer. Warren says they have a very lofty goal for the stadium — put a dome over it.
“We’re hopeful that with a partnership with the city school district we will be able to build this facility,” Warren added. “Ideal state would be able to enclose the arena and make it a year-round destination for youth sports.”
A cover for the stadium would cost even more money and could be years away.
As for the Rhinos, the organization has not fielded a team since going on hiatus for the 2018 season amidst financial issues. At the time of announcing their decision to vacate Marina Auto Stadium and begin planning for Division III play, the Dworkins said that “after assessing the totality of our last three years as a tenant of the City of Rochester, we have determined that it is time for the Rochester Rhinos to move on from this venue.” The club is slated to begin USL League One play in 2020, but facility plans have not been announced.