May 07, 2019 11:23 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The expression is "the elephant in the room."
In this case, that elephant is huge, green, and cost some $30 million to build. The room is the City of Rochester which is responsible for running, booking, and maintaining what is now Marina Auto Stadium.
It is the former home of the Rochester Rhinos. The pro soccer team was the stadium's main tenant until the struggling franchise moved out last year due to money woes.
The owners have no plans of coming back. So, what now?
"The idea is to really maximize the facility,” City Commissioner of Rec and Youth Services Daniele Lyman-Torres said.
The city has been working on a "different concept" for the stadium going forward. For now, that just includes camps, practices, and games for local schools.
“There are some kids who are training for track in hallways of high schools so we really don’t have a lot of facilities that are available outside of a few of the stadiums that have been built by the school district,” Lyman-Torres added.
While the calendar is still being booked, right now there are no major moneymakers are planned for the stadium in 2019. Section V no longer hosts playoffs there and the city also has not heard from another franchise looking for a new home.
"Last year at this time we had hoped that there would be some interest from private developers,” City Councilmember Molly Clifford said. “There were some ideas floated around but unfortunately none of those have really panned out."
The stadium sits in Clifford’s district. Looking ahead to budget talks, she says a big focus will be on the cost. Records show it is about $500,000 to $600,000 per year. A bulk of that is spent mostly on utilities.
The expectations are the city will not have to spend as much on the stadium since it will not be used as much. There is still private security on site during the overnight hours.
Clifford says a stadium without a team is not great, but they will need to find a balance.
"You know, honestly, cost savings for the taxpayer are very important but also for that neighborhood who has had to deal with the last five years of uncertainty at the stadium," Clifford said. "We really didn’t want to leave it sitting vacant. They get that’s really not a good sign."
Despite the uncertain future, city leaders do not appear to be eager to move bigger events to the stadium. The Rochester Summer Soul Music Festival is still set for August at the Red Wings’ and Monroe County-owned Frontier Field.
News10NBC asked the city about that and if there are plans to move the event to a stadium Rochester owns.
Here is the response from Justin Roj, Director for the Bureau of Communications and Special Events:
"The City’s vision is for the Rochester Community and Youth Sports Complex to serve as a venue for our children and athletes to use for sporting events, games and training. We will invest in the complex to ensure it is a first class venue for these activities. Going forward, the City has a variety of other venues, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park and Parcel 5, well suited to accommodate its successful concerts and events, like Party in the Park, the Rochester International Jazz Festival, the Fringe Festival, ROC Holiday Village, among others."
For what it is worth, the promoter for the Rochester Summer Soul Music Festival tells News10NBC he is willing to consider moving it to the soccer stadium in 2020.
Updated: May 07, 2019 11:23 PM
Created: May 07, 2019 10:22 AM
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