The National Lacrosse League is coming to Halifax.
The NLL announced on Thursday morning that the Rochester Knighthawks will be relocating to Halifax, becoming the league’s fifth Canadian franchise.
Curt Styres, the NLL’s 2017-18 general manager of the year and owner of the Knighthawks, applied to relocate his team and received approval from the league’s board of governors.
“Known as a great events city with a passionate, loyal, and hungry fan base for major league sports, Halifax proved to be an ideal location for our league’s expansion in Canada,” said NLL commissioner Nick Sakiewicz. “Curt Styres is one of our longest standing and most passionate owners and I am sure he will bring his knack for winning to this great city just as he has in Rochester. This marks yet another exciting step towards the execution of our five-year plan.”
The Knighthawks are one of the charter franchises of the NLL. Pegula Sports and Entertainment had a news conference with NLL chief operating officer Dave Rowan scheduled outside Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y., later Thursday afternoon.
It had been reported by several media outlets that Pegula, which owns the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, and the NLL’s Buffalo Bandits, would buy the Knighthawks and Styres would open a new franchise in Halifax. It seems, however, that the Pegula corporation will instead be forming a new team in Rochester.
The Knighthawks were crowned East Division champions last season and advanced to the franchise’s first NLL final since 2014. They lost to the Saskatchewan Rush in three games.
Halifax’s team will begin play during the 2019-20 season at Scotiabank Centre, with many of the players on the current Knighthawks’ roster.
The season will include nine regular-season home games, plus pre-season and playoff games.
The NLL has 11 franchises playing in the 2018-19 season including four Canadian teams in Toronto, Saskatoon, Edmonton and Vancouver. The San Diego Seals and Philadelphia Wings will play their inaugural season this December.