Driving across upstate New York in the summer, one experiences typical rural sights and smells - cow pastures and freshly mown grass. Upon reaching Rochester, the ambient scent becomes that of an old darkroom or a one-hour photo lab.
The sweet odor, something close to orange juice, seems to originate from the Kodak building across the street from Frontier Field, home of the Rochester Red Wings. While Kodak has been struggling with an accelerating decline in film sales, Rochester is experiencing a boom in minor-league sports. [Editor's note: The original article mistakenly placed the source of the odor at the Kodak building.]
The city has just been named "best minor-league sports market" by Street and Smith's Sports Business Journal. That puts it at the top of 230 markets in the United States. Besides the triple-A Red Wings, the Flower City boasts the Rochester Americans (American Hockey League), the Raging Rhinos (United Soccer League First Division), the Rochester Knighthawks (National Lacrosse League), and the Rochester Rattlers (Major League Lacrosse).
Since opening in 1997, Frontier Field has had more than 4.2 million fans walk through its gates. Families have been going to Red Wings games for generations. The franchise began in 1929, though pro baseball here dates back to 1877. [Editor's note: The original article understated the attendance at the ballpark.]
"I could still name the starting lineup of my first Red Wings game," says Terry Pyles of Delaware Water Gap, Pa. "I was only a 15-year-old kid back then." Mr. Pyles, on vacation with his family, was looking at the Red Wings Hall of Fame. Pyles grew up in Rochester, attending many Wings games.
As the popularity of sports has increased in Rochester, the need for larger and better sports arenas has grown.
The Red Wings and the Raging Rhinos used to share a playing field. But next summer, the Rhinos will be opening PAETEC Park, a $15 million stadium paid for by the state of New York, with naming rights bought by a local telecommunications company.
The new stadium will seat 17,000 fans - and could be expanded to seat an additional 20,000. It will host not only Rhino soccer games, but both lacrosse teams and local college sporting events.
And so the smell of photo chemicals in Rochester may slowly give way to the even sweeter aroma of hot dogs, popcorn, and nachos.