Remember Rochester?


I wish someone would do a documentary on the rise & fall of the Rochester Rhinos. 7 or 8 years ago they were the darlings of the U.S. second division with a U.S. Open Cup title to their name, outdrawing a few MLS teams at the gate and getting a SSS at a time when few big-league clubs had one. It seemed like only a matter of time before they got the call to join the promised land of America's first division.

And then the dream got blowedthehellup. Ownership issues, a decline in attendance, the USL-NASL debacle and so much more leave the club in a place where joining MLS now sounds damn-near like crazytalk.

It's not the film that I want but this piece outlines the saga --including quotes from The Don and details of secret meetings with Uncle Lamar about moving the then-Wizards to town-- as well as I've seen. Great Sunday reading.


Jamie said...

Rochester is my hometown and I think this situation, rather than being unique and isolated, reflects a general decline in Rochester culture over the past decade or two. An obvious corollary is a similar decline in the music scene since the late '90s. As recently as ten years ago, I remember going to local clubs to see bands like B.R.M.C., Spiritualized, Raveonettes, Muse, etc. I think Deftones were here every third weekend. Big acts. Relevant acts. And people came out to the shows. The local metal scene was pretty active and the hardcore scene (don't hate) was particularly vibrant. I played in bands and we always had places to play and bands to play with -- people were supportive of touring acts and touring bands made sure Rochester was on their itinerary. I remember basement shows with band like Botch and Coalesce that were just electric.

But that's all dropped off pretty sharply. Rochester is no longer much more than a pit stop between New York and Toronto -- the bands don't play here anymore and people don't come to shows when they do. (It's the exact same thing up the road in Buffalo, where I recently went to see Class Actress, for instance, at a small club and was -- no exaggeration -- one of TWO people there. The other guy looked like he had just wandered into the club for a drink. The night before, they had played to 500 people in Toronto. It was awkward for all parties involved.)

At any rate, I think much of it owes to the decline of the staple industries in Western New York; Rochester used to be the home of Kodak, Xerox, and Bauch & Lomb, but each of those lost the plot in the mid-'90s and the city has never recovered from the consequent exodus. There have been isolated movements to revive specific neighborhoods and when I'm back in town visiting family, I try to make it out to a Rhinos game or a local club for a small show, but I don't see much happening to revitalize the town in any way, shape, or form. There are little flashes of activity and interest in music, sports, the arts, but just not enough anymore to sustain a vibrant scene or top-tier professional sports team.

Sorry for the ramble. It probably should have been aborted about two sentences in. But yeah, bottom line: if Kodak had gone digital instead of steering themselves headfirst into obsolescence, the Rhinos would be Reigning MLS champions and aspiring musicians would be moving from Portland to Rochester to make a name for themselves.

Anonymous said...

KC crushes dreams.

price per head services said...

you know what buddy? I also wish that someone would do that documentary on the rise and fall of the Rochester Rhinos, I think it would be a big hit, I would watch it for sure