Looking Back: Rochester was host of the 1999 & 2004 World Tug of War Championships!

Talk to the local sports folks and they will bring up the two times Rochester “brought the World” to our city in quest of the World Tug of War Championship. A big deal? To the elite tug of war people across the globe it is. See, there is no Tug of War in the Olympics. It had been – it was held in each Olympics from 1900-1920. Since then the leadership organization (TWIF – Tug of War International Federation) has held European Championships and the World Championships on rotating years. 

Held at the Olmsted County Fairgrounds numerous teams from fifteen different countries came together to complete. Those who watched marveled at the strength, teamwork and physical mechanics these athletes utilized to defeat their opponents. Grass areas where they competed looked as if garden tillers had gone through upon the competition of each match. A large scoreboard was erected to track results, team tents, (sponsored by Rochester area businesses), were given to each country as a temporary home during the events and a large tent was erected to create a “beer hall” – and could they drink!

The event brought 1500 competitors to Rochester for a week. All meals and hotels were purchased by each team as a package. Ask Joe Powers – he provided three meals a day for a week and loved dealing with these wonderful people from all across the World. We had hundreds of volunteers who also enjoyed the festive, but competitive, nature of the event. It was a great time had by all!!!


Rochester Mustangs (old USHL team)

The Rochester Mustangs were a Junior A hockey team formed in 1961 that played its home games in the Mayo Civic Auditorium (yes, the Auditorium – not the Arena). The USHL league in 1968 consisted of five teams – Waterloo, Marquette, Minnesota Nationals, Green Bay and Rochester. The Rochester team had several star players such as Herb Brooks, Lou Nanne and Ken Johannson to mention a few of the more well-known team members. The team folded operations following the 1969-70 season. Many of these players stayed in Rochester and were key in the development of the Rochester Youth Hockey Association. 

Another brand of the Mustangs was formed in 1978 when the former Austin Mavericks moved to Rochester. That version of the Mustangs won three championships (1987, 1988 and 1998) and made Rochester the Rochester Rec Center their home until 2002.

Take a look back to the early days of Rochester hockey by looking through the game program from January 27-28th 1968!

Rochester Mustangs Hockey Jan 27-28th, 1968 – click here to see Mustang’s 1968 Program

National Volleyball Center

The National Volleyball Center is an Olympic-quality facility specialized for volleyball, but it can readily be modified to accommodate sporting activities such as basketball and events like gymnastics. The facility connects with Century High School, providing 14 volleyball courts total with 11 in the Center and 3 in Century. The Century Center Court has seating for 2000 fans, and each of the Volleyball Center’s courts has mezzanine and traditional bleacher seating.

Construction was completed on the National Volleyball Center in 1998. The facility experienced great success, which brought further funding and expansion that completed work in 2012. Conceived as a facility fit for Olympic-level training and play, the world-class National Volleyball Center presents a premier opportunity for top-tier volleyball!

The Regional Sports Center

With 44,000 sq. feet of competition floor space, multi-use courts, and 1500+ seating capacity for each, the Regional Sports Center fulfills a great multi-purpose role for many sports in southern Minnesota.

Built on land contributed by Rochester Community and Technical College with funds from the City of Rochester and the State of Minnesota and the drive from local community members, the Regional Sports Center demonstrates the greatness our overlapping communities can accomplish in collaboration. Funding was secured in 1998 and construction completed in 2001. The Regional Sports Center has since hosted countless successful events and supported the great success of the RCTC athletics program.

Regional Stadium/ Sports Bubble

The Rochester Regional Stadium provides a full-sized turf for football, soccer, lacrosse, or other events. During the winter months, the stadium is covered with a dome, making this facility popular year-round! Its seating capacity of 5000 makes the Rochester Regional Stadium the second largest of its kind in the state.

Funded by the City of Rochester and Rochester Community and Technical College, the Regional Stadium has met great success since its first-phase completion in 2008 and bubble expansion in 2009. Its year-round availability has fulfilled a high demand for use in the community. The facility has comfortably been able to remain in the black, even investing in more maintenance to weather the high usage.

Mayo Field

Built on land granted to the City of Rochester by the Mayo brothers, Mayo Field has been a staple of Rochester baseball since 1951. It’s now home to the Rochester Honkers, our amateur baseball team. Mayo Field is located next to the south fork of the Zumbro River, downtown Rochester, and a confluence of parks and trails, making it the perfect spot to enjoy a ball game, hot dog, and ice-cold beverage on a balmy, summertime Minnesota evening!

Focus on Four

In 1988, under Mayor Chuck Hazama, the Board of Park Commissioners began discussing future facility needs as it relates to Rochester’s sudden building expansion, potential population increase, new job opportunities, and the rapidly expanding elementary school enrollment. Critical shortages were evident in some respects and temporary steps are being taken to eliminate current problem situations.

During these discussions, it was felt that a comprehensive plan was needed in order to focus in on long range facility needs. Priorities were established and the Park Board instructed us to submit details for their consideration. The plan has become know as “Focus on Four.”

The three documents below outline our findings and recommendations.


2010 Sales Tax Projects

The City of Rochester sales tax has been a funding option for several sports facilities over the years. Sales tax funds were used to build the RCTC Field House, RCTC Sports Stadium, Sports Bubble, improvements/expansion of the Rochester Rec Center and most recently the Rochester Fastpitch Complex.
Below is the 2010 sports facility needs presented to the Sales Committee by the Rochester Amateur Sports Commission (now Rochester Sports).