$1.3 million in two weeks. That's what the Rochester Rhinos say they need to raise in order to secure a 2018 season.
Owners Wendy and David Dworkin passionately asked the community to engage and support the beloved team in order to keep them around. An emotional speech came from Chief Soccer Officer and former head coach Pat Ercoli as well.
"Professional sports teams bring a great deal to the quality of life of a city that traveling art exhibits and Broadway shows just can't. A sports team generates loyalty, a fan base, a passion they can build through a season, and provides a community connection."
Game attendance and corporate sponsorships are both lacking, which makes for low team morale Ercoli says.
"You know when they go on to other cities and you find 7 or 8,000 people at events, and they're watching other teams do well, I know coach and I used to talk about it quite often."
Ercoli says the Rhinos have become a team that develops players, who then leave and go on to teams with better sponsorships and salaries.
The deadline to re-sign players is at the end of the month. David Dworkin says support could be funded through jersey sponsorships, other corporate sponsorships and season ticket sales.
He says for the last two years the Rhinos have been the only team in their league without corporate sponsorship on their jerseys.
Dworkin also says a cut of the Monroe County's hotel tax would help, which they have never received funds from.
But a spokesperson from the County says since Capelli Stadium is not owned and operated by Monroe County, it is not prepared to divert taxpayer dollars to the Rhinos.