New arrival

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:14 AM ET

It's finally official. At least, it will be this morning at 10:45 a.m. when the National Lacrosse League announces a new team in Edmonton for next season at a news conference in the provincial capital.

Calgary businessman Bruce Urban's bid to buy the dormant Ottawa Rebel franchise and move it to Edmonton was approved by the league's board of governors yesterday, creating a new chapter in the Battle of Alberta with the Calgary Roughnecks.

Urban, president of Western RV Country, said while his bid faced a few obstacles along the way he never doubted it would be successful.

"Anytime I start a business venture -- and I'm committed to it -- I never question whether it'll happen, just when it'll happen," said Urban.

"That's the way I get. Once I'm on a quest, I expect to succeed."

NLL commissioner Jim Jennings said last night the addition of a club in Edmonton will be good for the entire league and the Roughnecks, who were eliminated from the playoffs last weekend.

"I'm pleased we're able to get a deal done in Edmonton," said Jennings by cellphone on a layover in Minneapolis on the way to Edmonton.

"It's something I've been working on for the last four years and I think it will be a big benefit to the league, to Alberta and to the Calgary Roughnecks."

Roughnecks majority owner Brad Banister said the addition will save his club in the neighbourhood of $100,000 on travel each season.

"Everyone loves the Battle of Alberta and now we have another one to add to it," said Banister, whose club will play the Edmonton team four times next season, twice at home and twice away, confirmed Jennings.

The yet-to-be-named Edmonton club, which will play out of Rexall Place, reverses a disturbing trend in the NLL.

Since the Roughnecks joined the league in 2001, three Canadian clubs -- the Rebel, Montreal Express and Vancouver Ravens -- have closed their doors, leaving only the Roughnecks and Toronto Rock north of the U.S. border.

Jennings has said in the past, given the fact more than 70% of the league's players come from Canada, he'd like to see more teams back here.

"Part of the problem was having Ottawa and Montreal and Toronto owned by the same owner," said Jennings.

"We no longer do that. We think we'll be able to build the Canadian franchises back up under this model."

Urban said his first order of business is to get his "lacrosse people" in place by the end of May.

He said he's already received five applications from experienced people for the club's head coaching spot.

"There seems to be some selection out there right now which is a good thing for us," said Urban.

"I want to make sure I get quality people right from the top down and we need a real good lacrosse man to guide this franchise."

After that, the team will have to start signing free agents and preparing for the league's expansion and entry drafts in November.

Having a solid local flavour is a priority, said Urban.

"We're going to go after a good nucleus of Edmonton players so we can get them out in the community promoting the team," said Urban.

"To be ambassadors for the sport and the team in Edmonton."


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