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Sahlen's Stadium


The Rhinos are in a big funk. The Flash are not filling the seats, even with Abby.

How did we go from Soccer Town USA to Soccer Town Sometimes?

The Flash are not even drawing 3,000 per game. That means nearly one out of five seats are occupied. Attendance is below the league average. The Rhinos are not doing much better.

The Democrat and Chronicle’s Jeff DiVeronica (check out his blog for all things soccer) and I chatted about attendance a couple nights ago. He speculates marketing and ticket prices are factors. (The Rhinos charge $10. Flash charge $13.) For the Rhinos, the product is also an issue.

DiVeronica and I reluctantly had to admit something else that is playing a role in soccer’s decline in Rochester. The new stadium never captured the hearts of the public. DiVeronica and I agree that there are things the city can do to better connect the stadium to Frontier Field.

What can Rochester do to get back its title of Soccer Town USA?

(By the way, it’s Wambach’s 33rd birthday. Happy Birthday, Abby! Read why Canadians don’t like her.)

Links of the Day:

– It’s frustrating this article on the success of a Rochester charter school does not mention it has no children who speak English as a second language and far fewer students with disabilities than the Rochester City School District. Furthermore, charter schools have the ability to kick out students who don’t meet their standards.

What would make Wegmans open a store in Batavia? (Very hypocritical of CEO to say he doesn’t support retail tax breaks when he’s a beneficiary.)

– A former Colgan Air executive talks about serious safety concerns before the 2009 crash in Clarence.

– The average New Yorker eats 13 pounds of yogurt a year compared to 60 pounds for the average European.

– Albert Paley’s Rochester studio is preparing for a major art installation on New York City’s Park Avenue.

33 years of CNN – a video for each year.

11 Responses to Soccer Town Sometimes

  1. June 2, 2013 at 1:15 pm Patrick Chefalo responds:

    Rachel means: about one out of four seats is occupied.

    9-1-12 vs Costa Rica – Sahlen’s Stadium, Rochester, New York 13,208


  2. Regarding the article about the success of charter schools….why be frustrated about SUCCESS. That should always be the goal, to be successful. Being able to remove obstacles is the key to being successful. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that unruly students, students who don’t speak English, and students with certain disabilities will need special attention and that diverting attention to these students HURT the students who really are capable and want to learn. I believe the social experiment of mainstreaming all students has proven to be a failure. Something needs to be done. I like hearing positive stories. I am not frustrated at all by how they do it. Just my thoughts.

  3. June 2, 2013 at 7:07 pm Animule responds:

    The entire rationale for the soccer stadium was built on pumped up and trumped up attendance numbers. It wasn’t revealed until well after the tinny, cheap-feeling stadium was built that much of the soccer attendance at Frontier Field was based on huge givewaways of free tickets. So many comparisons are built on a situation that was gamed from the get-go.

    That issue aside, the product is watered down from past years. And the novelty of both the stadium and players like Abby Wambach are not what they used to be. The soccer stadium just doesn’t have the same “buzz” that Frontier Field has. Part of that is the cheap feel of the place, and part of it may also be its location in a lousy neighborhood that does not feel safe – from its weird traffic pattern to its chopped up parking. The novelty of the stadium trumped these issues for a while, but that novelty is gone now.

  4. I think the largest problem is the product. American soccer leagues are boring, the international expo game filled the stadium because it was two quality teams playing. The rhinos sub-MLS league, the flash’s league, and even MLS teams just don’t compare to the quality and fun of a premiership game.

    On charters a lot is left out of the discussion. A year or more ago now when one charter was getting slammed for being “too white” essentially, no one realized it was actually the most diverse school in the county and actually reflected countywide demographics. ESL kids and disabled kids are resource intensive students and at the present time are concentrated on the shoulders of RCSD. Why is no one slamming RCSD parents who move to suburban schools, put their kids in private schools, or the minority only parents that participate in urban/suburban? They are doing the exact same thing charter schools are doing, but its socially acceptable for them. All of these are parents trying to get an education for their children by avoiding students that are resource intensive

  5. Good article, Rachel. I think you meant to write “4 out of 5 seats are empty”, rather than “one out of 5 seats are empty”?

    No matter, again, good article.

    -Chris Wilmot, Pittsford, NY

  6. No, my bad. You did state it correctly. Sorry!

    -Chris Wilmot

    • June 3, 2013 at 9:57 am Rachel Barnhart responds:

      It was wrong at first, so it was wrong in the version that was emailed. But since corrected! Thank you 🙂

  7. There are many reasons why the popularity of the Rhinos and soccer in general has diminished in recent years.

    These are in no order.

    The stadium’s location: Although the argument about the location has not been as high recently. It was a major turn-off at the time the stadium was being built.

    The cheapness of the stadium: As mentioned earlier the cheap feel of the stadium hurts. It felt very incomplete. Lack of lockerrooms, lack of suites, press box issues. It felt like the stadium was rushed and done cheap and therefore has no character.

    NO MLS Rhinos: The entire point of building the stadium was getting Rochester an MLS team. Not only did that NOT happen, it will NEVER happen. The model that MLS has followed is working for them and Rochester and the Rhinos do not fit that model.

    Too many minor league sports teams: When the Rhinos started in 1995 they were only the 4th team in the city with the Red Wings, Amerks and Knighthawks. Since then we have had many teams come and go. We had indoor football twice with the Brigade and the Raiders. The Roc City Thunder are now the third try at that sport. The Rattlers have come and gone and came back again. The Razorsharks are here with low minor league basketball, the Lancers have brought indoor soccer to the area and there are the women’s league Flash.

    The Amerks and Red Wings will always be the toasts of this town (As they should be) for being the closest thing to legitimate professional sports in this town. We have too many fringe, minor league sports here that it has saturated the market.

    I’m a 30 year old die-hard sports fan but I need something to sink my teeth into and to be honest for me its really just the Amerks because of their direct pipeline to the Sabres. I still go to Red Wings games cause its a nice night at the ballpark but truthfully we have too many low level options. The Rhinos need to try and move heaven and earth to get into MLS to become relevant again otherwise this whatever league they are in is not going to bring in the dollars that they need.

  8. June 4, 2013 at 5:41 pm Kevin Yost responds:

    First, moving out of Frontier Field and not retrofitting that was a mistake from the get-go and the idea of the Rhinos moving up to the MLS was likewise.

    I feel that there should be a new and better Sahlen’s Stadium on either part of the site of Midtown Plaza or part of the Medley Center, with a new, re-formed Nat’l Soccer Hall of Fame by U.S. Soccer, side-by-side with a re-formed Int’l Women’s Sports Center and Hall of Fame of the Women’s Sports Foundation, either located downtown, connected with a new stadium at Midtown, or on the Medley site connected with a new stadium there, and these should be built with little or no taxpayer dollars.

    Even if we do lose one or both of our outdoor pro soccer teams, we can rally to support and spectate our men’s and women’s soccer teams of the Rochester District Soccer League and our intercollegiate men’s and women’s soccer teams, all of who’s games are free to park and spectate in these hard economic times.

  9. Charter schools work. That’s a fact.
    There are charter schools in Rochester that DO have students where English is not their first language. These schools also are high performers.

    The article states that charter schools take students and funding from public schools. The fact behind the statement is that charter schools get the same amount of aid per student as public schools. If the 1,000 were back in the public school system then their costs would go up (more books, more teachers, etc). The aid charter schools receives is equitable to the aid public schools receive per student. The author seems to lose track of that fact.

    You state that charter schools can “kick out students who do not meet their standards”. You forgot to include the fact they can also “kick out” teachers who do not meet their standards. The teachers DO NOT HAVE TENURE. Perhaps the inability of public schools to remove obstacles is the problem.

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