HAMILTON – In the month of May, one of the most well known National Lacrosse League (NLL) franchises reached a deal to relocate home games to Hamilton’s FirstOntario Centre beginning with the 2021-22 season, according to the team’s operators.
The agreement – for five years – includes an option for a multi-year extension.
It’s expected the Rock will keep their current name and logo. In 2019, Six Nations Lacrosse Star Johnny Powless signed a one year contract with the franchise.
Originally founded in 1998, the Rock started at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton when they were known as the Ontario Raiders.
They moved to then-Maple Leaf Gardens after their inaugural season and rebranded as the Toronto Rock in 1999.
At a press conference on Tuesday, owner, president and General Manager Jamie Dawick said “a strong business case” was the reason for the relocation, including a significant reduction in game operations costs and opportunities to better connect with a fan base.
The deal with FirstOntario gives the franchise more flexibility with its schedule, allowing for the majority of home games in the 2021-22 season to be played on Saturday nights.
Saturday night home games are expected to give the opportunity for more accessibility to home town fan bases, and allow visitors to enjoy the city before and after the game, as speculated by the general manager.
The Rock have won six NLL titles – four when they played at their previous home, the Scotiabank Arena.
The NLL will start its 2021-22 season in the fall after cancelling plans for an abbreviated spring season.
In February, league commissioner Nick Sakiewicz said uncertainties from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic led to the decision.