116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - Jeff Jauch said this is the bottom line: the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders want to remain the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders and plan on being the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders for years.
'We want to be here for a long time. That's the whole idea,” the RoughRiders CEO said Wednesday afternoon.
Jauch was asked for an interview after it was revealed late last week that the owners of the Cedar Rapids Titans arena football team are bringing a professional indoor soccer team to town. It will play at the U.S. Cellular Center beginning in 2016, with a late-fall-to-early-spring season that coincides with that of the RoughRiders and United States Hockey League.
The city and VenuWorks - the company that runs the Cell Center, Cedar Rapids Ice Arena, Paramount Theatre and McGrath Ampitheatre for the city – want to fill as many dates as possible for the downtown arena, especially with a proposed arena 20 minutes down the road in Coralville. But you've got to wonder if every team can get enough support to make a go of it.
That's fan wise and advertising-dollar wise.
'We've got all kinds of competition,” Jauch said. 'You've got bars, you've got movie theatres, you've got the Kernels, you've got high-school football. You've got all that stuff. Throw a soccer team on the list now. Let them go at it, that's fine. It's not a big deal. If it's good for the city, and the quality of life here, I'm all for it.”
Jauch is part of a six-person ownership group that bought the RoughRiders in 2010. Newco Riders, LLC, also consists of Mark Carlson, the only coach and general manager the Riders have had since they moved from Mason City in 1999.
Newco Riders made $500,000 worth of improvements at the Ice Arena and generally has been considered the strongest and most well-liked of the four owners the club has had over the years. That fact made Jauch a bit disappointed that no one from the city or VenuWorks let the RoughRiders know a soccer team was coming.
They found out via last week's press conference at the U.S. Cellular Center.
'Call me up and let me know, even if it's just an hour before,” he said. 'If it was me, and I was doing something like that, I was going to put a soccer team here in this arena, and it'd be during the Kernels season or something, I'd call (CEO) Doug (Nelson) and say ‘Hey, just to let you know, this is what we're going to do.' … At least I'd sit down and talk to them. But not a word.”
Jauch said despite that, the relationship between the city, VenuWorks and RoughRiders is good and has improved markedly over the years. The RoughRiders have four years remaining on their current lease at the Ice Arena, and he said he's hopeful the sides will come to a new, longer agreement.
At the same time, he said he still can't help but feel his club is underappreciated by some in the community.
'It's kind of like you take the RoughRiders for granted,” he said. 'All the stuff that we do, the thousands of dollars we donate to charity. I'm not talking about fans. The fans certainly don't take us for granted. Our fans are great, the people in this town are wonderful. But there are some that, for whatever reason, take us for granted.”
Jauch said he is encouraged by plans being in the works to make improvements and updates at the Ice Arena. He noted how things like seats are the originals.
He wouldn't comment when asked if the club would ever consider moving to Coralville, saying that there were too many hypotheticals to give an answer. He reiterated that the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders want to continue being the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.
'We are committed, we want to stay here,” he said. 'We have never made any bones about that. We've just got to figure out how to make it work for both of us (them and the city). We're all in this.”
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