Edmonton team gets named on Saturday

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:05 AM ET

The bandwagon, maybe in this case make that the motorhome, is starting to fill up.

Just a week into setting up shop in the National Lacrosse League, the soon-to-be-named Edmonton expansion franchise has attracted enough interest from supporters that owner Bruce Urban is beaming with excitement.

About 250 of the $25 deposits for season tickets have been scooped up, equalling more than 1,000 seats spoken for at Rexall Place. The team makes its NLL debut next January.

"These first couple of days have been great," said Urban from the Calgary office of his Western RV empire.

"This sort of came about fast and furious. We didn't do a lot of buildup and everything was kept relatively quiet. But we did our research and we knew that Edmonton would support it.

"Edmonton is the type of city that thinks outside the box. People here are willing to try anything once. We're very pleased with the start we've had with season tickets."

Urban will make the formal announcement of a team nickname during Saturday's TV broadcast of the NLL Champions Cup final between Toronto and Arizona (the Score, NBC, 1:30 p.m.).

Over 150 names have been submitted via the team's website (www.edmontonprolacrosse.com).

One candidate that seems to have garnered plenty of attention is the Rig Pigs - which would certainly enhance an oil-themed rivalry with the Calgary Roughnecks.

"It's certainly different. There's never been another team named that," laughed Urban.

"We don't want to go with anything that's normal like the Gladiators or Blazers. And we want to have a good mascot that suits the name."

The Edmonton team will have company on the expansion scene as Portland made its entry official yesterday. A Dallas franchise, under the ownership of Mark Cuban, is another rumoured entry along with New York, Boston and Kansas City. With more teams on the horizon, it's unlikely the NLL will hold its expansion draft until at least early June, but the list of potential players for the Edmonton club continues to grow.

Ben Prepchuk, a former third overall pick in the NLL amateur draft, is a restricted free agent after sitting out the 2005 season to attend school, and although his playing rights still belong to the Colorado Mammoth, the vibe is out there to suit up for a hometown team.

"Right now things are up in the air, but if something happens, it would be an honour to play here," said Prepchuk.

Prepchuk was selected by the New York Saints in the 2000 draft and then traded to Calgary in 2001, where he notched 80 points.

On a high-powered Colorado club, the Sherwood Park native scored 40 points the next two years. For Edmonton to latch onto him, Prepchuk would either need to be left unprotected by the Mammoth for the expansion draft, traded to Edmonton or agree to a free-agent offer from Edmonton that Colorado chose not to match.

Along with potential players, Urban will gradually set about selecting a coaching staff.

Already in the mix is Edmonton Miners boss A.J. Jomha, an adviser to Urban who will take on a player personnel/development role.

"There's been a lot of interest. I'm amazed and excited by the number of high-end, high-quality coaches who have applied," said Urban. "We're in the process of crossing paths to do some interviews. I want a coach and GM who will promote the team and players and be proactive - someone who will do things that are exciting and different."

One name expected to be on the list is Walt Christianson, currently the Colorado assistant who was set to take over the Vancouver Ravens in 2005 before the club folded.


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