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Last year, Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal named Rochester the number one minor-league sports market in the country. The city boasts pro sports franchises that are both storied and cutting-edge, some steeped in tradition, others still growing out of their infancy.

The granddaddy of them all is the Rochester Red Wings, a Triple-A baseball club that dates back to 1885 and has in the past featured future baseball greats like Stan Musial, Cal Ripken Jr., Don Baylor, and Curt Schilling. The team is the AAA affiliate of the Minnesota Twins and plays in the International League every April through September at Frontier Field in downtown Rochester. ($6-$10 per game, $295 to $390 per season; 423-WING, www.redwingsbaseball.com.)

A slightly cheaper baseball option is the Class A Muckdogsof Batavia, located about 30 minutes west of Rochester. The Muckdogs play in the NY-Penn League and are affiliated with the Philadelphia Phillies. ($3-$5 per game, $90 for season; 343-5454, www.muckdogs.com.)

Next in seniority are the Rochester Americans, one of the most storied franchises in the American Hockey League. Known colloquially as the Amerks, the team just celebrated its 50th season. During that half-century, the franchise won a slew of AHL championships and became the second-oldest team in the league. The AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres, the Amerks play from October through April at Blue Cross Arena in downtown Rochester. ($11-$20 per game, $170 for season; 454-5335, www.amerks.com.)

The Amerks' roommates at Blue Cross Arena are the RochesterKnighthawks, an indoor lacrosse team that routinely finds success in the National Lacrosse League. From January until April, the K-hawks play their bruising, fast-paced brand of lacrosse. ($13.75-$25.75 per game; $65-$170 per season; 454-5335, www.knighthawks.net)

The group of investors that owns the Knighthawks and the Amerks also owns the Rochester Raging Rhinos, one of the most successful franchises in the United Soccer League's First Division. The Rhinos play from May to September, and in June, they'll christen the city's brand-new soccer-specific stadium, PAETECPark, located just a few blocks from Frontier Field, where the team has played in the past. ($9-$25 per game, $99-$250 per season, 454-KICK, www.rhinossoccer.com.)

The Rhinos will be sharing PAETECPark with the city's youngest franchise, the Rochester Rattlers outdoor lacrosse team. As members of the Major League Lacrosse organization, the Rattlers play the traditional game of field lacrosse, a more wide-open, spread-out version than the Knighthawks' indoor game. The MLL season runs from May through August ($10-$18 per game, $49-$84 for season; 454-5425, www.rochesterrattlers.com.)

Finally, making their debut this year are the Rochester Raiders, new members of the Great Lakes Indoor Football League, an organization that offers a brand of game similar to arena football. The team will play at the ESL Sports Centre in Henrietta starting in April. ($9.95-$19.95 per game, $53-$110 for season; 217-8731, www.rochesterraiders.com)

The city's newest --- and arguably, at least in 2006, the most successful --- pro franchise is the American Basketball Association's RochesterRazorSharks. The RazorSharks launched in 2005 as a member of the second-generation ABA, a league that openly tries to evoke memories of the ABA that rivaled the NBA in the '60s and '70s. While the level of play certainly won't rival the heydays of Dr. J. and the Iceman, the ABA represents a low-cost, freewheeling alternative to pricey NBA games. The Sharks play at Blue Cross Arena from fall to early spring. ($8-$25 per game; 232-9190, www.rochesterrazorsharks.com)

In This Guide...

    Take a closer look

    You could easily spend your life in Greater Rochester driving between work, home, and Wegmans. Many people do.

    Where's the party?

    Festivals
    Lakeside Winter Celebration Date: February

    Sculptures, butterflies, and giants,oh my!

    Daytrips
    Anyone who complains about the traffic in Rochester has never driven in Boston or New York or Cleveland or Pittsburgh. Granted, more traffic means more population and more opportunities for diversion within those metropolises.

    A town in the know

    Universities
    One of Rochester's most important assets is its academic community. There are over a dozen centers devoted to advanced education within the Rochester-Finger Lakes-Genesee Valley Region, and they add vibrancy to the area's employment, culture, and quality of life.

    Park it

    Parks
    From the beautiful Seneca and Highland Parks, both designed by 19th-century landscape genius Frederick Law Olmsted, to Durand-Eastman Park, where you can feel the immensity of that Great Lake, here is just a partial list of some of our favorite parks in the Monroe County (256-4950, www.monroecounty.gov) and City of Rochester (428-6767 or 428-6755, www.cityofrochester.gov) systems. Cobbs Hill Park Culver Road and Norris Drive

    Not above name dropping

    Legends
    Rochester can boast a fair number of interesting citizens who continue to walk among us, but many that have shuffled off this mortal coil remain the subject of endless fascination. These former Rochesterians may not be as well known as groundbreaking giants like abolitionist Frederick Douglass, activist Susan B. Anthony, and inventor George Eastman, but their place in history is nonetheless guaranteed.

    From getting lost to finding your Irish

    Recreation
    Wanna work off a few pounds? Gotta burn off some work-related frustration?

    The way the political land lays

    Politics
    Just like anyplace else, politics in Rochester are a complicated affair that, when you get right down to it, aren't really all that complicated after all. Take a bunch of ambitious, outgoing men and women, add the lust for power, sprinkle generously with cash, and voila... you've got a crazy, quirky kind of world only an American-style democracy could produce.

    Eight days a week

    Nightlife
    You've only got seven, but there's something to do eight days a week. Monday.

    Live and active culture

    Arts
    They say you shouldn't talk religion or politics at the dinner table. Sound advice.

    Are you there yet?

    Families
    Got kids? You've come to the right place!

    As American as pasta e fagiole

    Food
    You can eat apple pie and hamburgers for only so long. If you're seeking ingredients to build meals in honor of your (or someone else's) culture, here's a list of some independent ethnic grocery stores.

    Welcome to the 'burbs

    Suburbs
    Rochester owes much of its development and prosperity to the GeneseeRiver, which cuts a path right down the center of the city. In the early days, many of the neighborhoods in the city, as well as suburban villages, began as small settlements that depended on the river to receive and sell goods.

    The best parts are often hidden

    City neighborhoods
    "Cool" in Rochester is the youth-oriented Park Avenuearea, or the East End-Alexander area on a summer night, with crowds from clubs and bars spilling out onto the sidewalks. But there's lots to experience in the city.

    Your Rochester to-do list

    Try to see what's on TV on the ceiling of the Bug Jar. Board the Mary Jemison or the Sam Patch from Corn Hill Landing.

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