NLL welcomes Chicago

RYAN WOLSTAT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

As first reported in the Toronto Sun last month, the National Lacrosse league will be expanding to Chicago for the 2006/07 season.

NLL commissioner Jim Jennings announced yesterday that Kevin Loughery Jr., the son of longtime NBA coach and player Kevin Loughery, will helm the Windy City franchise. The ownership group also includes Loughery Sr., investor Donald Sallee and Doug Schaer, a certified player agent with the Major League Baseball Players Association.

"This is the best thing I've done for Chicago since drafting Michael Jordan in 1984," Loughery Sr. said.

Said Jennings: "Chicago has been on our radar screen for some time now, but we wanted to get the right ownership (group) and the right arena."

The team will play out of the brand new Sears Centre, a 10,000-seat arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill., a Chicago suburb.

The NLL also plans to place an expansion team in New York for next season, but several details need to be worked out before that announcement officially can be made.

According to the league, average attendance this season is 11,000 per game, up from 10,089 last year. Chicago will be the NLL's 12th team.

Rock Notes

Rock president Brad Watters said yesterday 14,000 tickets have been sold for the NLL all-star game, to be held Feb. 25 at the Air Canada Centre. Fans wishing to honour former Rock coach Les Bartley and help fight cancer can purchase special Bartley's Bleachers tickets at www.ticketmaster.ca, by clicking on the Bartley's Bleacher's window and entering the code 4LES. The seats are in the front rows of the 300 level. The money will go equally to several local cancer research and support centres. Bartley passed away last May after battling colon cancer ... Rock content in the game will be high. Captain Jim Veltman, forward Blaine Manning and defender Phil Sanderson will join league scoring leaders Josh Sanderson and Colin Doyle on the East Division squad.


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