NLL pays NBC for airtime

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:32 AM ET

NBC's live broadcast of the National Lacrosse League's all-star game next month at the Saddledome will be a huge boon for the growing sport, the Calgary Roughnecks president says.

Even if the league is paying the U.S. network for the airtime.

"It's great for the league," Brad Banister, also the team's majority owner, told the Sun yesterday. "It gives us some big exposure. It's something that the NHL doesn't even get much of, hardly. We're very excited about it, for sure."

While the NLL won't officially confirm the NBC deal yet, a league source verified the U.S. network will indeed carry the game, plus the championship game in May. A news conference is expected this week to announce the agreement.

Another source added the NLL paid NBC to air the two games, as many other sporting events do. The league hopes it could be the first step to securing a national TV deal in the U.S., the source said.

Banister wouldn't comment on the financial end of the NBC deal but said he'd "love to make a few bucks" from the all-star game.

"If it's anything like the championship game, I will," he said. "But that's not the biggest thing for me. I just want it to come together and be a big success."

The all-star game had been scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 27, but will be moved to Feb. 26 at noon to accommodate NBC.

Banister said his No. 1 priority will be to fill the Saddledome to the rafters, as it was during the Roughnecks' championship victory over the Buffalo Bandits last May when 19,289 were in attendance to watch the Riggers claim their first NLL title.

"We just want to make sure the Calgary people come out and support it and it looks good on TV," said Banister.

"That's my biggest concern. Make sure people are aware this game is going on here and how big a game it is."


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