In a Different Country No.4 USA. Part 2 - Rochester.

Discussion in 'The Beautiful Game' started by RichardL, Apr 2, 2007.

  1. RichardL

    RichardL BigSoccer Supporter

    May 2, 2001
    Berkshire
    Club:
    Reading FC
    Nat'l Team:
    England
    The following week I found myself in Rochester. Not a town on the usual tourist trail, and indeed it was a detour so absurdly expensive that it clearly overstepped the boundary of foolhardy, and all to see what amounted to a non-league match. Of course the local team usually drew around 11,000 so it wasn’t like going miles out of my way to watch Farnborough play Northwich Victoria, but it was non-league all the same.

    Rochester is regarded as a small town team by those with clubs in MLS. Naturally, America has a rather different idea about small, with this small-market town having an urban population twice the size of the city of Liverpool, and a city centre boasting buildings which offered a skyline rather different to the one offered by Farnborough’s Kingsmead shopping centre.

    After checking in to my hotel just beyond the eastern edge of the centre, I made my way to an “English pub” just a few hundred metres away. To be fair, as recreating an English ambience went, they’d done a fair better job than the majority, who appeared to have used watching Three Men and a Little Lady while under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs as a reference (where the makers of that film got their ideas from, I’ve no idea – I think they just went with the drugs) as it did actually look like an English pub. Unfortunately it looked exactly like the kind of awful sticky-carpeted pub where the landlord still clings to the belief that it’s 1973, with Cum on Feel the Noize and 20th Century Boy blaring out as drinkers supped pints of Worthington E.

    To be fair I can’t recall what I had to eat in there, just that it exactly replicated the English Pub meal experience, where quality can differ to an extent that makes Russian Roulette seem mundane in comparison. And all probably served by the sort of cook who tests the warmth of the food by sticking her thumb in it, before coming out to the bar to serve and flirt with the customers, seemingly unaware that she’s put on more pounds than an apartment in Notting Hill, and her cleavage has gone further south than Amundsen. My memories aren’t all that clear, so I could be doing the place a disservice, but the fact that I chose to spend the latter part of the evening in the kind of bar that played country music instead shows that I seriously didn’t want to go back.

    With a few hours to go until the match kicked off I decided to see what Rochester’s pulsating heart had to offer. And after about half an hour I was beginning to realise why Rochester’s crowds were so good. Perhaps Rochester’s other attractions are just incredibly well hidden. I’d readily admit to the fact that I wouldn’t be able to recommend a single attraction in Reading that it’d be worth getting off the train to see, but it was Saturday afternoon and I was struggling even to find a shop, let alone one that was open. I eventually found a shopping mall, whose utilitarian feel made you feel it was originally designed as a nuclear bunker, but it was nigh on empty. A few bored youths strolled around looking like they couldn’t wait until it was Monday morning again, and I emerged on the other side of the centre witnessing only shops offering the least tempting range of wares of any street since the time I cut through what was clearly the cheaper end of a certain district of Amsterdam.

    Roughly between the centre and Frontier Field, my venue for the evening, was the Historic High Falls Entertainment District. I’d have to say that as entertainment districts go, it was definitely a work in progress. A sign proclaimed “Historic High Falls. Enjoy!” but as much as I tried, as did a few others, the notice still felt more like a challenge than an invitation. I find abandoned factory buildings only offered so much joy potential, and I doubted I’d be able to eke out the experience until kick-off, around two hours away. There was the High Falls waterfall itself, which was potentially impressive if you overlooked the obtrusive bridge over it and the derelict building to the right. It was a decently sized waterfall too, and I could have been impressed by it, if only I hadn’t spent the morning up the road at Niagara, which made it look but a trickle from an overflow pipe.

    But then I turned the corner and saw a bar, which looked to be if not full, at least liberally sprinkled with the first people I’d seen all day who looked to be enjoying themselves. It would have been perfect for a pre-match drink, if only I hadn’t realised at that exact point that I’d left my match tickets in my suitcase on the other side of the city. I thought of staying there and just paying again, but memories of the rather tortuous process of buying the ticket without an online system, and the glowing letter of gratitude I received from the club which almost made it sound like they were so thrilled to have me going that they greet me personally outside the stadium, made me feel that I had to go back. The free bus which stopped right outside my hotel helped too.

    If I’ve been unkind about the rest of Rochester, Frontier Field itself was pleasant enough. Whereas most new small stadiums in England look, from the outside at least, like they host shoppers of Furniture Warehouse or PC World on Saturdays, Frontier Field was tastefully adorned in brick and looked homely in the British sense, rather than the American one. It was, unfortunately, actually a baseball stadium, and as such only had two sides, although temporary seating had been installed down most of the opposite touchline. The remaining space was occupied by a scoreboard and a large number of advertising hoardings, which filled this gap far more than it really had a right to do.

    I was in the expensive seats and those around me looked if not affluent, at very least suburban. They all seemed keenly enthusiastic, if not exactly boisterous to any degree, and keenly anticipating the start. This was still strange to me, as I was still finding hearing Americans talking about soccer akin to hearing Victoria and David Beckham discussing Nietzsche, but at least it was a pleasant surprise, unlike how the Beckham's conversation would be, no doubt. A small band of more vocal fans opposite did their bit on the far side, even if Rochester isn’t a name that lends itself well to many songs. Singing the club’s whole name was all but impossible, but it did mean I was about to watch perhaps the best named match I’ve ever been to, with the Rochester Raging Rhinos taking on the Long Island Rough Riders. It had a big billing to live up to, and live up to it it did. It was everything the previous week’s MLS game wasn’t. It was fast, flowing, end to end stuff played by players who looked like they enjoyed playing rather than it just being a job. The standard certainly wasn’t non-league either. I was used to watching Reading in England’s third tier at the time, and Rochester didn’t look a step down. Long Island clearly weren’t as good, but they were game and played with the kind of spirit unmatched African teams used to show in the world cup in the 1980s, before they hired European coaches to teach them how to be defensive and grind out results.

    Exact details I’m not so sure about – it was 6 years ago – but Long Island missed a penalty at 1-0 down, and they kept up their spirit of being sportingly entertaining by applying a self inflicted coup de grâce in the final minute. 2-1 down and desperately hunting an equaliser, Long Island’s keeper decided to show just what he could do by dribbling down the field a good 45 yards out from goal, only to suffer a René Higuita moment, allowing a Rochester forward to score into an empty net from the centre circle. A fine way to end a fine game.

    The crowd filtered away and I considered following them, just to see where people went on a Saturday night in Rochester, but I left them to it. Besides, the free bus went right back to my hotel, while I found the sort of bar where an imported beer is one from outside the state. Drinking in a similar establishment previously I’d made the mistake of enquiring about foreign beers, resulting in a beer-based parody of monty python’s cheese shop sketch, so this time I bought an American beer and sat and read the programme. The following morning Boston awaited. No chance of any sport there sadly, but perhaps one or two more bars I’d imagine.
     
  2. Anthony

    Anthony Member+

    United States
    Aug 20, 1999
    Chicago
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I just hope you avoided Genesee Cream Ale.

    (Or worse, Utica Club -- think water with yeast mixed in)
     
  3. kanonier

    kanonier Member+

    Nov 7, 2005
    Bloomington, Ind.
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    One of my good buddies is from Rochester and is a die-hard Rhinos fan. He insists that once they get their new stadium built (which is apparently in the works, though how realistic it is, I don't know) they could meet the MLS stadium requirements and become an MLS team. It would certainly be a small market, but the fans are quite devoted.

    There are some other MLS teams who hardly average 11,000 fans a game. The Rapids are a good example (12,056 last year). With some other local urban centers to draw on (namely Buffalo, which also has a big soccer fan base because of the university), it's possible an MLS team could succeed there. It would be interesting to see.
     
  4. russ

    russ Member+

    Feb 26, 1999
    Canton,NY
    Club:
    Liverpool FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States

    Or Genny lite,which is like sex in a canoe-fecking close to water.
     
  5. Kaiser

    Kaiser New Member

    Nov 12, 2000
    dark side of the moo
    Gennesee Cream Ale is one of the best Cream Ales you can get. You may not like a cream ale which is meant to be served ice cold on a hot day. Or you just had one on the wrong kind of day. A cream ale is an ale which is fermented at lager temperatures. It creates a light refreshing beer that's highly carbonated which creates a stiff creamy head. GCA is the beer he should have tried.
     
  6. CherryBomb

    CherryBomb Red Card

    Oct 27, 2006
    La La Land
    Another good read. Keep 'em coming.
     
  7. kanonier

    kanonier Member+

    Nov 7, 2005
    Bloomington, Ind.
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    There are good beers in the region, too... like Ommegang.
     
  8. SCBozeman

    SCBozeman Member

    Jun 3, 2001
    St. Louis
    I thought you were a little too kind to Chicago, perhaps engratiating yourself to the American base here. This one was funny, accurate and biting. Very good.
     
  9. Kaiser

    Kaiser New Member

    Nov 12, 2000
    dark side of the moo
    I had a blind taste test in my store featuring Genny Light and Miller Lite. My customers preferred Genny Light 7 to 1. But they still buy Miller Lite at a ratio around 7 to 1 over the Genny. Go figure. Yuengling Premium Light is still my favorite of the light beers. Rock Green Light when I need to watch my carb intake. Now Coors Light is a canoe secks beer (Keystone Light is the same beer as CL). :eek:
     
  10. hoboken16

    hoboken16 Member

    Jan 16, 2003
    Jersey City, NJ USA
    Club:
    New York Red Bulls
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    from what I hear Rochester would be a fine addition to the MLS but they are probably several markets that would get a chance ahead of them
     
  11. Foousic

    Foousic New Member

    Dec 23, 2002
    Washington/Richmond
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Hate to break it to you, but Rochester has been in their new stadium for a season now... http://www.paetecpark.com/
     
  12. kanonier

    kanonier Member+

    Nov 7, 2005
    Bloomington, Ind.
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Ah. In reading above, I didn't realize his visit must have been a while ago, before the new stadium had opened. Thanks for the info.

    Good for Rochester getting a dedicated soccer stadium (well, soccer and lacrosse, but that works).
     
  13. gocaps

    gocaps Member

    Sep 23, 2000
    With the SEs in 134
    Saranac as well. Rochester is also home to the world's largest beer store, Beers of the World.

    Rochester is a nice little town to live in - I enjoyed my 4 years there. The people are friendly and there is just enough cultural life and neat places to shop, eat, and see that you won't get bored. But it ain't a tourist destination.
     
  14. GoRapids

    GoRapids Member

    Sep 1, 1999
    Boulder CO
    Knocking Genny Cream Ale AND Utica Club!!!

    I hope our paths never cross! ;)
     
  15. hogmesh

    hogmesh New Member

    May 13, 2006
    msp (formerly va)
    Club:
    DC United
    i was wondering when someone would mention that. very interesting read, but i wish it had a date on it bc it makes it seem like it was just yesterday, as opposed to a couple years ago.

    paetec park's quite nice, btw. great views of the field. wish they'd play a bit less (and less loud) music, but as far as a stadium goes, it's worth the visit.
     
  16. Anthony

    Anthony Member+

    United States
    Aug 20, 1999
    Chicago
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    My Evidence professor at Syracuse used to have a "Suds and Spuds Review" at the end of each semester where he would provide beer (Utica Club) and potato chips and answer any question anyone had on evidence for as long as people wanted to ask questions.
     
  17. nutella

    nutella Member

    Nov 11, 2006
    Plateau
    Club:
    FC Dallas
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Alas, the city is very much on the decline. Kodak, Xerox, and Baush and Lam are not what they used to be...
     
  18. seahawkdad

    seahawkdad Spoon!!!

    Jun 2, 2000
    Lincoln, VA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I hope others enjoyed this sentence as much as I did:

    As usual, Richard, well done.
     
  19. barthez4

    barthez4 Member

    Apr 1, 2005
    A great read about my city. Had I known, I would have offered up some suggestions on how to spend the day before and after the match, but oh well.

    And as a few others pointed out, the Rhinos are in Paetec Park now, which is a nice facility that is football-specific. Unfortunately, I only made it to a few matches there, but I have had seats at various places in the stadium and the view is refreshing after so many years stuck at Frontier Field. In one corner, the "crazies" as they are labeled by most casual and somewhat uninterested fans, keep noise going for most of the match. At Frontier, if things haven't changed, the crazies would have been in the bleacher area along the length of the pitch.

    Once my semester is over with, I plan to attend many of their games, because it is nice to see American ball played by people who, as you said, look like they are enjoying themselves.
     
  20. patrickm

    patrickm New Member

    May 3, 2003
    usa
    rochester is albany without the central location. its albany with much more snow. its albany without saratoga. its albany without the adirondacks, the berkshires or the hudson valley. its albany without new england 30 minutes away. its albany without new york and boston 2 1/2 hours away. its albany without the political power.
     
  21. nutella

    nutella Member

    Nov 11, 2006
    Plateau
    Club:
    FC Dallas
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Rochester is Albany without the crime :p
     
  22. Skeurto

    Skeurto New Member

    May 15, 2005
    Rochester, NY
    Paetec Park is a beautiful place to watch a match, but the surrounding area of the city seems to have scared away some of the suburbanites mentioned in the OP. Attendance in its first year was up only slightly from the previous year, and quite a bit lower than the all time high. This was for a team that was solid, if maybe a bit boring offensively, and which made it to the league championship. I blame it on a suburban aversion to parallel parking.

    As for MLS, it is too late; the management is MLS quality or better, but the stadium currently seats ~13,000 (expandable to ~18,000), and the owners don't have the money that MLS wants. Obviously the demographics of a small and shrinking area are a big negative too.
     
  23. drew_VT_6

    drew_VT_6 Member

    Feb 22, 2000
    Orange County, CA
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Good read Richard. Like people have said, Rochester is NOT a tourist destination.

    PaeTec Park MIGHT happen one of these days:
    [​IMG]

    As for MLS viability, Rochester is squished into a funny little TV market that has less influence because of Buffalo's NFL and NHL teams and because of Syrauce's D1 Basketball and Football. That's the main reason Rochester can't work in MLS now that MLS has a TV deal.

    The funny thing in Rochester is the city and downtown have been shrivling up and dying for a long time, but the surrounding suburbs have some of the biggest growth upstate.
     
  24. DoctorK

    DoctorK New Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    NorthBank, Riverbend
    Blasphemy! :mad:
     
  25. Uberwill

    Uberwill New Member

    Jan 3, 2007
    Fun Fact: the Rhinos are the last non-MLS team to beat an MLS team in US Open Cup play.

    Also, most of the English Pubs in the city are actually run by ex-pat Englishmen, strangly enough. The most popular, at least among the rugby teams I play with, is the Old Toad. Its a pretty good bar, but I much prefer the terrible little dives with poker games going on in the basement and mafioso types hanging around the back. Which is about half the bars in the ROC.
     

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