Steve Donner, one of the current owners of the troubled Rochester Rhinos, talked to News 8 Friday afternoon. Several potential buyers of the soccer club have emerged in the last week. Dan Williams, a New Jersey businessman, was the first, but a deal with the bank fell apart. A group led by Soccer Sam, the voice of the Rhinos, has been in talks with the United Soccer League and city officials. At the eleventh hour, Rob Clark, a bank executive from Utica came to PAETEC Park expressing his interest in buying the Rhinos.
In his first television interview in quite some time, Steve Donner spoke about the team's struggles and how much the Rhinos mean to him. He says part of the reason he kept quiet was because a confidentiality agreement with Dan Williams. He told me how he thinks his corporation got into this much debt. "The perception of the stadium not being finished and maybe the neighborhood and such wasn’t driving the revenues we needed over the first two years to be able to continue the mortgage," said Donner.
When Donner was asked what the Rhinos mean to him this is what he had to say. "Once you get past your belief in God and your family. It's part of your soul. It’s part of what we are. It’s part of the community. It’s family. That’s why survival of the team is more important than me personally, "said Donner.
Donner openly said fielding a team this season is not the issue, the issue is he’s behind on mortgage obligations in regards to the stadium. So will he and his ownership team pay their debts? “We'll go about it as any corporation would so it’s tough to say what those are and what they’ll be. But we’re living here. I’m living here. I'm not hiding from anybody," said Donner.
Donner remains hopeful there will be investor to save the team, and has been in talks with potential buyers. He says when it’s time to bow out he will. “I’ll be helpful anyway I can. I’ll be there opening night to support the team as a fan if I have to,” said Donner.