New boss for Rush

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:25 AM ET

Duane Vienneau did his best to sell professional lacrosse to the city.

The former president of the Edmonton Rush brought in music acts, models, cheerleaders and even former NBA troublemaker Denis Rodman enticing fans to come see his team play.

Yet in his four years at the helm, Vienneau was unable to overcome the product on the floor, and yesterday stepped aside, replaced by former Sun Media advertising executive Gord Sawyer.

"It was just a time where you feel personally, and for the organization, that maybe it was time to take it to the next level," Vienneau said. "I'm very happy with where we are today. We have a strong foundation in the market and I ultimately decided it was time for someone else to take the reins, take it to the next level and hopefully sell this place out."

Vienneau will stay on with the Rush in the interim to help with the transition process.

Sawyer, who spent 25 years with the Calgary Sun, will now be responsible for selling the team to the community.

"This is an exciting new challenge," Sawyer said. "It's no secret that we haven't filled the building. We haven't won, but I think this team is close. We just need to get the name out there, talk to people, talk to corporate sponsors, show them the product and get people to know this game."

It's not an easy sell.

Attendance has been down in the last couple of seasons as the team has struggled on the floor.

In their four years the Rush have lost close to $3 million.

Hopes were high heading into this season, but the team struggled to find consistency early on, although they did play well late in the year.

The Rush finished two games out of a playoff spot.

"We believe we need to work both on the field and off the field," said Rush owner Bruce Urban. "On the field we need to get better and off the field, we need to push harder than ever.

"Now we have two fantastic guys in leadership roles instead of just one."


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