ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC-TV) - The Rochester Rhinos are calling on the community to help raise $1.3 million by the end of the month to keep the franchise going.
The team says they have had ongoing challenges with non-existent hotel tax revenue sharing, lagging sponsorships and season ticket sales. Because of these challenges, they are asking the community to help guarantee the future of professional soccer in Rochester.
The decision on whether the 2018 season will be played must be reached by November 30.
"It’s only going to happen if people start asking the questions to the right people," said co-owner David Dworkin. "If you work for a company, why isn’t your company supporting? If you’re a soccer person or if you just care about Rochester, why aren’t you supporting your sports team?
The Rhinos say it is not only the franchise at stake, but 400 jobs and a number of philanthropic and youth sports programs affiliated with the team.
Spokesman Jesse Sleezer released the following statement on behalf of Monroe County:
Monroe County has an obligation to support the Rochester Red Wings and does so through Hotel-Motel Tax sharing because the County owns and operates Frontier Field. Capelli Stadium is not owned and operated by Monroe County. Monroe County is not prepared to divert taxpayer dollars to the Rhinos that would otherwise be invested in regional tourism assets, including local arts, museums, and parks.
The City of Rochester's Communication Director James Smith released the following statement following the Rhinos' announcement:
The City of Rochester remains supportive of our local professional soccer team and are hopeful the Rhinos organization will be successful in their community outreach campaign to solicit more support and sponsorships for the team. The City government has invested $1.59 million dollars in operating and capital expense at the soccer stadium over the past two years and is continuing that investment. Achieving higher attendance levels and greater community support will undoubtedly alleviate continued financial pressure from both the team and City government, so we are hopeful the Rhinos will be successful in achieving both as they have outlined today.
The Dworkins say they haven't looked at any other city the team could go to. They say they waited this long to announce the need for funding with just a two-week deadline, hoping not to disrupt the players during their season.
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