Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren was beaming on Friday afternoon when she announced that the city was finalizing an agreement with new potential owners for the Rhinos.
"It is my great pleasure to announce that the Rochester Rhinos will remain in Rochester," Mayor Warren said. "This partnership will bring necessary upgrades to the stadium—including a new turf—more dynamic operation of this important community facility and ultimately, jobs for our residents."
The owners targeted by the city and the USL are Rochester natives David and Wendy Dworkin, who operate the local real estate development company LLD Enterprises. David Dworkin has served with the United Way of Greater Rochester in addition to the John F. Wegman Foundation and two community housing development ventures. The Dworkins were a minority partner in the group that purchased the Sacramento Kings of the NBA in 2013. That franchise was formerly the Rochester Royals and owned by a relative of the couple from 1947 to 1955.
Wendy Dworkin has an active role in the Rochester community as well. She sits on the Board of Trustees of the Rochester Museum and Science Center and has worked with the Jewish Community Center and in various capacities with several United Way projects around the city. Wendy told the Democrat and Chronicle in 2012, "I love taking an underutilized asset and making it better. I take great pride in seeing something my team has redeveloped." While she was referring to the work of LLD Enterprises, that same sentiment can apply to the couple's interest in purchasing and operating the Rhinos.
"We are excited to keep the Rhinos in Rochester," David Dworkin told media at the announcement. "This team has had great success and we plan on continuing that tradition going into the future. Our goal is to keep the Rhinos relevant and to contend for the playoffs year after year. I am committed to making this one of the premier outdoor entertainment venues in western New York and improving the fan experience at Sahlen’s Stadium."
In Friday's announcement, Mayor Warren promised to replace the playing surface ahead of the upcoming season as well as committing an additional $500,000 in maintenance over the course of the proposed 10-year lease agreement. The news about the playing surface comes as welcome news to the players who ply their trade on it. A Rochester player who suffered a serious injury in 2015 blamed his sprain directly on the condition of the turf.
The mayor's office has prepared the necessary proposal for the city council's next meeting on Tuesday, January 19. If the measure is approved and the purchase of the team is ratified by the USL, the new ownership could take over operation of Sahlen's Stadium as early as February 1.
The Rhinos traditionally begin preseason training in the last week of February.