It’s great news Abby Wambach is coming home to Rochester to play for the Western New York Flash. It’s great for Wambach, the team, the league, fans and the city.
The news should also be good for Saheln’s Stadium. The city-owned facility, managed by the Rochester Rhinos, has struggled to be profitable. Wambach is a proven draw when she plays there, attracting sell-out crowds.
Will it be great for the neighborhood surrounding the stadium to have the world’s best female soccer player in its midst? The stadium continues to be criticized for its location in a poor neighborhood peppered with vacant lots and industry. The area has never seen the kind of outside investment once predicted. Although the Flash will likely play fewer than 10 home games a year at Sahlen’s, could that be enough to get the ball rolling on improvements?
I’ve long felt the city should create a stadium district. I wrote this back in September as part of a post predicting soccer fever would die when Abby left town:
The city should connect the stadiums with pathways, parks, shops, parking and other attractions to make it feel like one neighborhood. The Buffalo Sabres are building a massive hotel and ice rink complex right next to First Niagara arena. I’m not suggesting anything on that scale, but creative minds can surely come up with a way to link Rochester’s stadiums on the landscape.
Neither stadium has done much for its immediate surroundings. Frontier Field is surrounded by parking lots. Sahlen’s is surrounded by poverty and blight. Strategically thinking about how to maximize both assets could benefit sports, sports fans and the city.
Now that she’ll be sticking around, maybe it’s time to reclaim our title of Soccer Town USA and prove we deserve it.
Links of the Day:
– People in Syracuse are starting to recognize giant subsidies for malls hurt the little guy.
– Must be nice to work for the Assembly. Staffers got aggregate raises of 10 percent.
– A study suggest pay-TV, such as cable and satellite, peaked in 2011.
– A grandfather writes an open letter to the newspaper to person who thought he was a pedophile at the park. It’s the third letter down.