USL: Defending champions Rochester Rhinos land new, local owners

Rochester Rhinos celebrate their 2015 USL championship

The Rochester Rhinos are officially under new ownership, as the USL announced on Thursday that local real estate developers David and Wendy Dworkin have purchased the team.

The Dworkins have also secured a 10-year lease agreement for city-owned Rhinos Stadium, with more than $1 million of renovations to the venue already being put into place ahead of the 2016 season.

USL announced in January that the Dworkins were in the process of purchasing the Rhinos, who won the USL title in 2015. The league terminated the Adirondack Sports Club’s ownership of the Rhinos early in January for failing to meet USL standards.

“We are delighted to welcome David and Wendy Dworkin as owners of the Rochester Rhinos, one of the most historic clubs in USL,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said in a statement released by the league. “Their strong ties to the local community make them the perfect people to lead the Rhinos forward, and we are excited to see them take the club to new heights in 2016 and beyond.”

The Dworkins are minority owners of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings and the principal owners of Rochester-based property development, management and brokerage company LLD Enterprises.

The Rhinos defeated LA Galaxy II 2-1 after extra time in the USL championship game last October after finishing with the league’s best regular-season record. Long known as one of US soccer’s top lower-division markets, Rochester won the old A-League three times and are the only non-MLS team in the MLS-era to win the US Open Cup, claiming the trophy in 1999.

Rochester, who began installing new turf at Rhinos Stadium on Thursday, will kick off their season on April 2 at the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. The USL campaign is set to begin on March 25.

“The league has been extraordinary,” said David Dworkin said in the USL statement. “The USL’s leadership has been accessible around the clock as we moved toward this agreement, and we are delighted to take ownership of one of the great clubs in the modern history of soccer in the United States. Rochester has been a wonderful city for Wendy and I, and we are looking forward to great success on and off the field for the Rhinos in the future.”