National Lacrosse League’s New York franchise relocating to Ottawa

Ottawa Black Bears

Professional lacrosse is returning to the nation’s capital after a two-decade hiatus.

The National Lacrosse League announced Wednesday that its New York franchise will relocate to Ottawa and play at the Canadian Tire Centre starting in the 2024-25 season.

The team, now known as the Riptide, will be renamed the Ottawa Black Bears. It will be the second NLL franchise to call the National Capital Region home after the Ottawa Rebel, which competed in the league for three seasons from 2000-03 before moving to Edmonton.

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New York-based GF Sports and Entertainment will continue to own and operate the franchise, which will play nine home games per season at the Canadian Tire Centre. The Riptide will finish this season in New York, with the Black Bears’ first game expected to take place in Kanata in December.

In a news release, the team said it will “maintain a strong working relationship with Senators Sports & Entertainment to help drive the team’s success in the Ottawa-Gatineau market.”

NLL commissioner Brett Frood called Ottawa an “incredible market” with an established fan base. 

“This is an immense opportunity for our league to fortify our roots in the National Capital Region and to partner with a sophisticated front office in the Senators,” Frood said in a statement. “We feel this relationship will be a terrific success and are excited and confident in the short- and long-term positioning of the Ottawa Black Bears.”

GF Sports and Entertainment board member Erik Baker said the organization opted to relocate the franchise to Ottawa following an “extensive” screening process. 

“We chose Ottawa for many reasons, including the strength of the Senators Sports & Entertainment brand, the demand and rapid growth of box lacrosse in the region, and the fantastic arena,” Baker said.

The Black Bears will become the NLL’s sixth Canadian franchise, joining the Calgary Roughnecks, Halifax Thunderbirds, Saskatchewan Rush, Toronto Rock and Vancouver Warriors.

Senators chief operating officer Erin Crowe said the new team will help “grow and strengthen” her organization’s ties to the community.

“With the NLL’s strength and rapid growth, a strong ownership group and the collective relationships with TSN, we believe the Ottawa Black Bears will be another great addition to the Ottawa sports landscape,” Crowe said in a statement. 

“This will be an entertaining and exciting product that our fans will love and embrace. We can’t wait for the Black Bears to hit the field and take their place in our community.”

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