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National Lacrosse League announces launch of Ottawa Black Bears franchise

New York Riptide to relocate to Ottawa and begin play at Canadian Tire Centre for the 2024-25 season; GF Sports and Entertainment to partner commercially with Senators Sports & Entertainment

The National Lacrosse League (NLL) in partnership with GF Sports and Entertainment and Senators Sports & Entertainment, today announced the launch of Ottawa-Gatineau’s newest professional sports franchise, the Ottawa Black Bears. The Black Bears will begin play at the start of the 2024-25 NLL season, with all home games to be played at Canadian Tire Centre, the home of the National Hockey League’s Ottawa Senators.

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

GF Sports & Entertainment will maintain ownership and operation of the franchise, who will play all nine regular season home games of the NLL season at Canadian Tire Centre. The franchise will maintain a strong working relationship with Senators Sports & Entertainment to help drive the team’s success in the Ottawa-Gatineau market.

The Ottawa Black Bears will continue to operate as the New York Riptide through the conclusion of the 2023-24 NLL season, both on the turf and in the community. The franchise’s inaugural regular season home game at Canadian Tire Centre is anticipated to take place in December 2024.

After a very competitive and extensive screening process, we are thrilled to be bring our franchise, the Ottawa Black Bears, to the Nation’s Capital,” said Erik Baker of GF Sports and Entertainment. “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.”

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. 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 Black Bears are a young and talented team headlined by league scoring leader and 2020 NLL first overall pick Jeff Teat. The team runs under the impressive leadership of head coach Dan Ladouceur, a five-time NLL champion.

Senators Sports & Entertainment continues to look for ways to grow and strengthen our relationship with the Ottawa-Gatineau community,” said Erin Crowe, COO and CFO of Senators Sports & Entertainment. “Box Lacrosse is a fast, physical and fan-friendly game. 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. 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.”

Starting play in Ottawa in December of 2024, the Black Bears will become the NLL’s sixth Canadian franchise, joining the Calgary Roughnecks, Halifax Thunderbirds, Saskatchewan Rush, Toronto Rock and Vancouver Warriors.

For fans interested in signing up for tickets and learning more about both the Black Bears and the NLL, they are asked to visit www.ottawablackbears.ca.

NLL