Jeff Teat at Nassau Coliseum for the New York Riptide.

Jeff Teat at Nassau Coliseum for the New York Riptide. Credit: New York Riptide

The New York Riptide will vacate Nassau Coliseum, leave Long Island and become the Ottawa Black Bears after the current National Lacrosse League season concludes, the franchise announced on Wednesday.

“We chose Ottawa for many reasons,” said Erik Baker of GF Sports and Entertainment, which owns the team, in a statement announcing the franchise's relocation. “Including the strength of the Senators Sports & Entertainment brand, the demand and rapid growth of box lacrosse in the region, and the fantastic arena.”

The franchise will partner with the NHL’s Ottawa Senators and play at Canadian Tire Centre in suburban Kanata, Ontario, though the Senators hope to build a new arena in downtown Ottawa.

The Riptide are in their fourth season at the Coliseum since being founded in 2018, with the NLL's 2021 season being canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are 5-5 this season and have three regular-season games remaining at the Coliseum.

“On behalf of the entire organization, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to the Long Island community,” the organization said in a letter sent first to season-ticket holders. “For the past five years, we have had the honor of calling Long Island our home and the privilege of playing at the iconic Nassau Coliseum.

“We are sincerely appreciative of every fan who has attended, or watched, a game and supported our organization in any manner. The New York Riptide are eternally grateful for the loyalty shown from the local lacrosse faithful who were with us from our inception and remained by our side to watch us grow.”

An NLL source said the Riptide did speak to officials at UBS Arena about playing games there but the cost was prohibitive. The Riptide are averaging approximately 4,800 fans per game this season at the Coliseum — including comped tickets — which is about half what the franchise said was needed to remain financially viable on Long Island.

The NLL approved the move in a league vote on Tuesday.

The Riptide’s move will give the 15-team NLL six franchises in Canada. Approximately 75% of the league’s players are Canadians and all but four players on the Riptide’s roster live in the Toronto area.

The Riptide, in the letter sent to season-ticket holders, said it would continue to contribute to youth lacrosse programs on Long Island after relocating.

The Riptide are the NLL’s third franchise in New York. The Saints played at the Coliseum from 1989-2003 and the Titans played a handful of home games at the Coliseum during their existence from 2006-09.

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