Ottawa

Ottawa Black Bears to join National Lacrosse League next season

The National Lacrosse League announced Wednesday that the New York Riptide, to soon become Ottawa Black Bears, will be moving to the Canadian Tire Centre after the current season.

New York Riptide moving to Canadian Tire Centre after current season

A sport team owner smiles during a news conference.
GF Sports and Entertainment's Erik Baker smiles during an announcement on Feb. 21, 2024 the National Lacrosse League's New York Riptide will be moving north and becoming the Ottawa Black Bears. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Ottawa will have a professional lacrosse team again later this year.

The National Lacrosse League (NLL) — which plays indoor box lacrosse — announced Wednesday that the New York Riptide will be moving to the nation's capital after the current season.

The team will soon sport a new name and logo — the Ottawa Black Bears.

Ownership will remain with GF Sports and Entertainment, the league said in a news release, and the Black Bears will play out of the Canadian Tire Centre.

"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," said Erik Baker who's part of the ownership team, in the news release.

"The Ottawa Black Bears [name] … reflects not only the attributes of the region, but also the values of this community and our franchise. We will be a community-dedicated team that will be relentless, proud, passionate and gritty."

The Black Bears' first home game should be in December, the league said.

A new professional lacrosse team is coming to Ottawa. The New York Riptide are relocating and will be renamed the Ottawa Black Bears.

Ottawa had team decades ago

The Riptide debuted in the NLL during the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season in the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in New York, the former home of the New York Islanders.

After the next season was cancelled due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Riptide didn't make the playoffs in 2022 or 2023. The team has an even 5-5 record this season.

Owners GF Sports & Entertainment also run the Dallas Open and the Atlanta Open tennis tournaments.

A box lacrosse game, with green turf inside hockey boards.
Fans wave towels as the Buffalo Bandits take on the Colorado Mammoth during the first half of Game 2 of the National Lacrosse League Finals in June 2022 in Denver. (David Zalubowski/The Associated Press)

Ottawa briefly had a professional team in the early 2000s when the Ottawa Rebel played in the NLL out of the Canadian Tire Centre, until the franchise's suspension in 2003.

The NLL has 15 franchises including in Halifax, Toronto, Saskatoon, Calgary and Vancouver.

A lacrosse player stretches an arm out to try to block an opponent's shot.
Zed Williams of the Colorado Mammoth, left, shoots past Buffalo Bandit Bryce Sweeting during Game 2 of the National Lacrosse League Finals in May 2023. (RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post/The Associated Press)

Others nearby are in Albany, Buffalo and Rochester.

Those three places, like the land not far south of Ottawa, are Haudenosaunee territory. Lacrosse is an important part of their culture to the point the Haudenosaunee Nationals have a credible bid to compete as a separate nation in lacrosse at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

There's also a long Anishinaabe history with the game.

With files from Radio-Canada's Kim Vallière

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