Rochester Rhinos

There are changes ahead for the downtown soccer stadium in Rochester.

On Wednesday, David and Wendy Dworkin, who own the Rochester Rhinos, say that they have received approval from the United Soccer League to join USL Division III by the 2020 season. Division III is a new division in the soccer league, targeting communities ranging  from 150,000 to one million in population, and it set to get underway next year.

Randy Gorbman / WXXI News

The City of Rochester and the owners of the Rochester Rhinos soccer team say they've reached a lease agreement.

David and Wendy Dworkin say while the efforts the past two months diverted a significant amount of time from their primary goal of using a one-year hiatus to solidify a foundation for sustained success, they can now shift their focus back to keeping professional soccer in the region, as well as providing a wide array of events at Capelli Sport Stadium this season.  

What looked like possible progress in the lease negotiations involving the City of Rochester and the owners of the Rochester Rhinos apparently fell short.

David and Wendy Dworkin, who own the local soccer team, released this statement on Monday:

The Rochester Rhinos do not have to pack up their gear and leave Capelli Sport Stadium at this point, even though Monday had been a deadline originally set by the city to vacate that facility.

March 12th had been the revised deadline for the team’s owners, David and Wendy Dworkin, to move the team out of  the stadium after city officials originally  said the Dworkins’ defaulted on their lease when they announced they wouldn’t be fielding a team this year.

The initial eviction date was February 28th, and then that was extended by the city as negotiations continued.

It appears both sides are still talking in the dispute surrounding the lease for Capelli Sport Stadium in Rochester.

This Wednesday, February 28, had been the deadline set by City Hall for the owners of the Rochester Rhinos to vacate that stadium. City officials had said the previous announcement by team owners David and Wendy Dworkin that they would not field a team for the upcoming season means that they have defaulted on their lease.

But on Monday a spokeswoman for City Hall released a statement which said:

Alex Crichton / WXXI News

Even with the legal wrangling still going on over the future of Capelli Sport Stadium in Rochester this year, the Rochester Rhinos have announced four regular USL contests this year.

Rhinos owners David and Wendy Dworkin say that Toronto FC II will serve as hosts for the four games, including the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on May 5, Indy Eleven on June 16, Nashville SC on July 28 and Bethlehem Steel FC on August 16.

Alex Crichton / WXXI News

The owners of the Rochester Rhinos are being told they have to vacate Capelli Sport Stadium by the end of February.

A letter from the City of Rochester’s Corporation Counsel, Timothy Curtin, says that the recent announcement by team owners David and Wendy Dworkin that they will not field a team for the upcoming season means that they have defaulted on their lease.

The Dworkins had earlier said they would not field a team in the USL this year after they were unable to raise the $1.3 million they needed to make the operation financially viable this year.

Rochester Rhinos fans support team in rally

Nov 28, 2017
Tianna Mañón, WXXI News

The Rochester Rhinos are on the edge. The soccer team that went undefeated just two years ago may not be around for 2018 if financial support goals aren't met.

On Thursday night, local fans and supporters rallied for the team at Capelli Sport Stadium. Fans shared favorite memories, encouraged support and spoke directly with owners Wendy and David Dworkin.

From the Red Wings to the Flash to the Rhinos, Rochester was once considered a hub for minor league sports, but the landscape has changed in recent years -- especially in the last week. The owners of the Rochester Rhinos announced Thursday that they need help to keep the soccer team in Rochester. Declining ticket sales and a lack of corporate and fan support pushed owners David and Wendy Dworkin up against a deadline: if they don't raise $1.3 million by November 30, the team won't play in 2018.

The Dworkin's  announcement came just one day after the Rattlers announced their team will be moving to Dallas. So what's next?

This hour, we discuss what the future may hold for the Rhinos, for Capelli Sport Stadium and its surrounding neighborhood, and for minor league sports in Rochester.  Our guests:

  • David and Wendy Dworkin, owners of the Rochester Rhinos
  • Scott Pitoniak, longtime Rochester sports columnist and author
  • Jeff DiVeronica, sports writer for the Democrat & Chronicle

Rochester Rhinos

The Rochester Rhinos says the head coach of that soccer team is leaving to assume similar duties with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

Bob Lilley coached a total of 177 matches and compiled a record of 87-37-53, while serving as the Rochester Rhinos head coach during two stints: 2010 - 211 and 2014 - 2017. 

He had just led the team to the 2015 USL Championship four months before David and Wendy Dworkin took over as owners of the franchise in March of 2016.