Wendy and David Dworkin hope to have more solidified plans on the stadium in a few weeks. (Photo courtesy of the Rhinos)
By Michael Lewis
With the Rochester Rhinos ready to move down to Division III for the 2020 United Soccer League season, don’t expect their new stadium in Monroe County to be the size of their former home, Marina Auto Stadium, in Rochester, N.Y.
Team owners David and Wendy Dworkin want a cozier feeling to the soccer stadium and plan to have from 5,500 to 6,500 seats.
Rochester’s downtown soccer venue seats 13,768.
On Monday’s Soccer is a Kick in the Grass radio show, David Dworkin said the team stadium could expand to 10,000 if needed.
“The reason for 5,500 to 6,500 is that we need to get back to a facility where you’re rubbing up against your neighbor,” he said. “We can’t have four vacant seats and then you. And [that] seems like a good number for that and for our complex.”
The stadium is just an idea as a site has not yet been picked out.
The Dworkins hope to have their stadium plans competed “in a couple of weeks,” David Dworkin said.
“At that point I will know how much land I will know for our stadium and my soccer fields,” he added.
The couple have scheduled meetings with potential stakeholders this week and next.
“We have talked about actually looking at our field not only as soccer, but also as lacrosse,” David Dworkin said. “Probably within the next two weeks or so we’ll have a better sense of what our needs are land-wise. Then it comes time for us to look at our potential sites and start focusing on what it would take to put us in those places and start meeting with those folks in the communities, the politicians, potentially those involved in pro locating with those sites. We’re excited.”
By going to Division III, the Rhinos’ budget will be slashed due to smaller costs, particularly in transportation. More traveling is involved at the Division II level.
David Dworkin noted that Division II “has gotten significantly more expensive this season alone,” pointing out that the player salaries had increased, as did the ability to broadcast games.
“So, to operate in Division II is even more expensive than last year,” he said. “There’s more games and a bit more travel. The season has gotten longer this year and it will be similar next year. So, when you look at the division, I don’t know how long the season is going to be obviously, because that hasn’t been determined. But geographically, I won’t have to travel to potentially to some of those furthest places.
“Right now, we have you bus to Pittsburgh, you bus to Penn FC you bus to Toronto and you bus to Jersey. But you fly to Charleston, you fly to Tampa, you fly to Cincinnati, to Louisville. It’s a lot of fly and very, very expensive. On balance you’re going to have less of an operating budget.”
Asked if he heard any rumors of possible teams from New York joining Division III, Dworkin replied,
“Obviously I am not able to divulge on this radio show of what maybe is happening, but there are more announcements coming and there are more teams being announced both for 2019 and 2020. And based on what has been shared with me, the belief is that come 2020, we’ll have an easier transportation road ahead of us.”