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Slow start for Rhinos and Flash

Posted at: 05/06/2013 5:57 PM
By: Robin De Wind

Soccer is back at Sahlen's Stadium with the Rhinos and the Western New York Flash in action. But fans have been slow to respond.

The Rochester Rhinos are off to a rough start. The team is still looking for their first win and the Western New York Flash, led by Pittsford's Abby Wambach, attracted smaller crowds in their first two home games.

The Flash drew a small crowd for the team's home opener, just over 4,000. Wambach was still recovering from a concussion and didn't play. In her first appearance on Wednesday, the crowd was even smaller. Not a surprise since it was a school night and the Flash attracts young girls and their families.

Sahlen's Stadium General Manager Pat Ercoli says the home season for both teams has been slow, but he adds stadium suits have all been sold and ticket sales over the past three years for both the Rhinos and Flash have jumped.

Five thousand was the average attendance expected for Flash games. With Wambach as the draw, Ercoli says markets like Portland and Seattle are drawing larger crowds, but he expects that to even out as the season goes on.

League attendance for all eight teams is close to 3,500. Portland, who is led by Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair, both former Flash players, had 16,000 at their home opener. Portland also has an MLS team, which Ercoli says helps. Hopefully, the excitement over pro-soccer will filter to all of the locations including Rochester.