Rochester Rhinos will sit out 2018 USL season

Once the dominant team of the U.S. Division 2 landscape on and off the field, the Rochester Rhinos will sit out of the 2018 USL season.

The decision to take a one-year hiatus comes after the club failed to raise the support it said it needed from the community -- $1.3 million from season-ticket and sponsorship sales -- by the Nov. 30 deadline set in mid-November.

A key issue remains Capelli Sport Stadium’s exclusion from receiving a portion of the Hotel Occupancy Tax -- $8.1 million in revenues in 2017 -- that other Monroe County facilities receive.

Rochester Rhinos titles:
1998 USISL A-League
1999 U.S. Open Cup
2000 USL A-League
2001 USL A-League
2015 USL

The club will remain in good standing with the USL for 2018 when Capelli Sport Stadium will host several USL regular-season contests. Fans who ordered 2018 Rhinos season tickets will get refunds.

Said Rhinos co-owner David Dworkin, “We will continue to work diligently with supporters, the regional business community and government leaders to solidify a foundation for sustained success, including placing Capelli Sport Stadium on equal footing with other facilities in Monroe County and the City of Rochester.”

In 2017, the Rhinos averaged just 2,031 fans a game, the second lowest, above only Charlotte, among the USL's independent teams.

At the start of the 2017 season, Dworkin, who with his wife Wendy bought the Rhinos in 2016, said the club's current situation was an unsustainable business model. They lost a reported $1.7 million with an average attendance of 3,655 in 2016.

Before 2016, the Rhinos never averaged under 5,000 fans a game in their 20 seasons. They averaged a season-high of 11,628 in 1999 when they played in the USL A-League and won the Open Cup. They moved into their new soccer stadium in 2006.
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