Lacrosse league seeks Montreal franchise
Published Wednesday, October 10, 2012 9:06PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 11, 2012 11:39AM EDT
Canada’s oldest sport is hoping to make a comeback in Montreal.
The National Lacrosse League has nine teams in the league, including three in Canada – but the sport hasn’t been in Montreal for a decade.
NLL commissioner George Daniel is hoping to change that, with a game featuring the Toronto Rock and the Rochester Nighthawks Dec. 15 at the Bell Centre.
“It would be huge,” said Daniel. “It's absolutely critical for us in the long run. I think for us to have the appropriate the national Canadian presences, we need to have Montreal and Vancouver in addition to the three cities that we have now.”
The league isn’t new; it has been growing for 26 years. Despite its success, it still hasn’t won over Montreal.
Being here sounds like a must for the NLL, said Rock owner Jamie Dawick.
“We want to play in the big markets. An arena deal is key,” explained Dawick, whose team is one of the most successful in the league.
With six league championships, The Rock averages 11,000 fans per game at the Air Canada Centre.
“If the Canadiens were involved as a work-together partner, absolutely it can be profitable,” he said.
The league's star player, Garrett Billings of the Rock, said players like him are part of an entertaining product.
“They've done a good job, like the NHL, of cleaning up the clutching and grabbing. You get to watch the talented players play. They've done a good job the last few years. The focus of watching the players play is how talented everyone is in this league – how hard everybody plays,” he said.
The league believes investors will see an entertaining product on Dec. 15 and consider a franchise purchase of $3 million.
CORRECTION: The article originally stated that professional lacrosse had not been played in Montreal for 40 years. The Montreal Express played one season in the NLL in 2002.