Indoor Football Returns to Rochester
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Professional indoor football returned to Rochester with a new team sporting a new name.
The ROC City Thunder made its debut before a nice crowd at the Gordon Field House on the RIT Campus Saturday.
The new indoor football team believes a new place to play is the key to its success. Unlike two others before, the ROC CityThunder has vacated downtown Rochester for what it calls a new, fan-friendly atmosphere on the RIT campus.
"We're trying to really capitalize on the RIT element of not having a football team," said Ryan Raftery, Thunder Team Owner. "As you can see we have the pep band as part of our crew and we really cater to the RIT students and from all indications they're looking for something to grab on to in the football world and we're trying to make that connection to RIT as well."
This is Rochester's third attempt at professional indoor football. The owners of the Thunder believe they have the formula to ensure this team is here for the long haul.
The Brigade was Rochester's first indoor football team. It debuted in 2001, but lasted just three seasons before closing up shop. The Raiders followed in 2006 and had a longer run playing in four different leagues. The team won the 2007 Continental Indoor Football League Championship. The Raiders ceased operation in 2010. Now it's the Thunder's turn to try to maintain staying power in an already crowded sports market.
"It's a very difficult sports market in Rochester with so many teams. But we believe that the element that RIT has helped us create and the differences we're trying to bring with a kid friendly environment should put us in a good position to have a long run," said Raftery
The team is comprised entirely of former Section V high school players. Fans attending the opener say that's a reason to keep coming back.
"It's good to know that you know guys from your neighborhood, my neighborhood can enjoy a sport they love their whole lives," said Mike Cody of Gates.
Some where there to watch their sons and grandsons play, including family members supporting back-up quarterback Jesse Higgins-Tisdale, a former standout at East High.
"Oh, it's just wonderful seeing him out here playing," said Lucy Nibblins of Rochester.
With the RIT pep band and a college atmosphere, the ROC City Thunder's different approach might be just the ticket to keep fans coming back for indoor football in the Rochester area.