A Bear Market: Ottawa Gets National Lacrosse League Franchise

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 8: Player of the Philadelphia Wings chases after a ground ball behind players of the Boston Blazers on January 8, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Boston Blazers defeated the Philadelphia Wings 10-6. (Photo by Dave Evans/Sports Studio Photos/Getty Images)

The Ottawa pro sports landscape is growing once again.

Hot on the heels of the PWHL’s arrival, the city is now getting a National Lacrosse League franchise next season.

The New York Riptide is transferring operations to the Nation’s Capital, where they will be known as the Ottawa Black Bears. They’ll play their home games at Canadian Tire Centre, with a regular season that typically runs from early December to late April.

GF Sports and Entertainment will maintain ownership and operation of the franchise, with Senators Sports & Entertainment entering the mix as a partner.

Erin Crowe, Executive VP and CFO of the Senators; Erik Baker from GF Sports and Entertainment; and Brett Frood from the National Lacrosse League made the joint announcement at a news conference on Wednesday morning.

“Ottawa is an incredible market, with an established fan base, and a major-league arena,” NLL Commissioner Brett Frood said in a press release. “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. 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.

The Nation’s Capital briefly had a National Lacrosse League team called the Ottawa Rebel in the early 2000s. It was owned by former Ottawa CFL team owner Brad Watters, whose group also brought pro lacrosse to Toronto and Montreal.

The Rebel never quite got on track, posting a 9-37 record over three seasons. They suspended operations and eventually ended up in Edmonton as the Rush, and today they’re the Saskatchewan Rush.

“Today, we look to the future as the Ottawa Black Bears, a name that reflects not only the attributes of the region, but also the values of this community and our franchise,” Baker said. “We will be a community-dedicated team that will be relentless, proud, passionate and gritty. Ottawa fans will be proud to wear the Black Bears logo.” 

The Riptide will finish out the season where they are. At the moment, they’re a middle of the pack team (5-5) in the NLL standings and currently have the game’s best player in Jeff Teat, who has a league leading 33 goals and 68 points in 10 games.

The Black Bears will be the sixth Canadian team in the league, joining Toronto, Vancouver, Halifax, Saskatchewan and Calgary.

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