February 7, 2008
By now, you probably know that the Dan Williams deal is in a holding pattern after a 4 hour meeting with the bank that has loaned the Rhinos close to $11 million didn't end with both sides agreeing to a number.
Dan Williams has said that he isn't walking away from the deal at this point. But, in the event that he has, there is now an "In Case of Emergency" Plan that has started to take shape.
As you could probably guess, Soccer Sam has people talking to him non-stop about the state of the Rhinos. Well, this could turn out to be a very good thing in the event that the Dan Williams deal doesn't happen.
For months now, Sam has been assured that the Dan Williams deal would happen. Then late last week, he was told that there were some glitches.
That's when Sam had a visit from the Ghosts of Soccer Past. Memories of two time NASL MVP Carlos Metidieri, Pancho Escos, Charlie Mitchell, Frank Odoi, Pat Ercoli, Charlie Schiano, Pat Dinolfo, and all the Lancer greats flooded back in Sam's memory. But, then they were replaced by the emptiness Sam felt when the Lancers folded and nobody stepped up to keep professional soccer alive in Rochester.
This time, Sam didn't want to sit on the sidelines and watch pro soccer go dark for who knows how long.
So, Sam emailed Frank DuRoss and Steve Donner and said that he wanted to be their Plan B on Friday. At a Super Bowl party, he mentioned to some friends what his idea was. And even though one of the greatest Super Bowls ever was unfolding, people wanted to talk to Sam about saving futbol in Rochester.
So, early Monday morning, Sam met with some of the soccer guys that wanted to help him keep pro soccer in Rochester alive. That led to a meeting with Steve Donner.
And so today, Sam has a plan to try and do everything that he can to save soccer in Rochester. But, only if it is an absolute emergency. Sam's group's real dream is that the Dan Williams deal goes through after the bank and the City realize that Dan Williams will give everyone involved the best deal.
But, if the bank or the City scare Dan Williams away either because of a fight between the two over who owns the stadium with the Rhinos defaulting on the loans or because the bank wants a payment that doesn't make business sense for Williams, then Sam's team will step in and try and keep the Rhinos alive.
Sam's biggest concern is that if Dan Williams walks away, the bank and the City would be fighting over control of PAETEC Park. Sam has already put out feelers to other venues in the Rochester area that could potentially house a USL 1st Division team. If the Red Wings and the County are OK with it, one option could be a return to Frontier Field while the tug of war over PAETEC Park happens.
And before people dream big, Sam's group doesn't have the financial backing that Dan Williams does. That's why Sam truly hopes that the Dan Williams deal goes through and he can channel his friend's enthusiam to save the Rhinos into increased advertising revenue for the club.
The financial constraints that Sam's group would have would mean that they wouldn't be able to pay the full amount owed by the Rhinos and they wouldn't have the financial strength to complete all the needed upgrades that PAETEC Park needs moving forward. What Sam would love to get would be a deal like the Red Wings have at Frontier Field where any mortgage payment shortfalls are covered by the City or County.
Sam also hopes to keep the Rhinos name intact. Although, who knows what would happen if the Rhinos go into bankruptcy. But, one thing going for Sam is that he has a good relationship with the USL and the league would love to see Rochester remain a part of the USL 1st Division.
Everyone is hoping it doesn't come to that. But, it is good to know that there is now a Plan B.
News & Notes (US-Mexico edition):
- US Soccer.com with a recap of the game.
- MLSNet.com with their recap of the game.
- Grant Wahl at SI.com with his takeaway points from last evening.
- Steven Goff with some US Soccer tidbits, including that the Poland friendly will happen on March 26th.
- And finally, SBI.net says that the Red Bulls almost lost Jozy Altidore to Reading. I wonder if he could have secured a UK work permit?
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, and not necessarily those of the Rochester Rhinos or SoccerSam.com. Feel free to send any comments or complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org. James promises to read (but not to respond) to all of them.