Roughnecks make nice with Flames

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:57 AM ET

It turns out a tersely worded news release accomplished what Brad Banister hoped it would.

After the Calgary Roughnecks secured a home playoff date Friday night, the National Lacrosse League franchise owner sent out a statement outlining how unhappy he was over the start time of 1 p.m. May 1 at the Saddledome.

Banister’s phone was ringing Saturday morning but, after a heated discussion with Calgary Flames brass, the Riggers owner is happy with how it went.

The Flames sympathized with Banister’s situation and the revenue loss an afternoon date would have for the Riggers.

“I did get assurances from the Flames they would work hard at trying to figure out the problem and hopefully make an adjustment,” Banister said.

“Barring that, they will help with marketing. I’m happy I got a response and they seem to understand it was kind of unreasonable.

“I’m grateful to actually hear from them and hear they are going to try and step up and make this a success.

“They probably didn’t realize how big of a problem it was. They are going to help us out or try to move the game. I don’t know if they can.

“I understand their point. I called them out a little bit. Perhaps I used the wrong verbiage. If I offended anybody, I apologize. It’s great to get them on board.”

Due to the Calgary Hitmen hosting Games 1 and 2 of the WHL final Friday and Saturday and a Simon and Garfunkel concert on Sunday, the Riggers were slotted into Saturday afternoon. The Hitmen couldn’t start Thursday because the WHL draft is in Edmonton that day.

As of now, the Riggers will host the Edmonton Rush at 1 p.m. and tickets are on sale immediately.

On Friday night just minutes after the Riggers beat the Colorado Mammoth 11-10 to secure second place in the West Division, a team release went out with some harsh words.

The statement overshadowed a good performance by the team in getting the home date.

“How does a taxpayers’ building fall into the hands of self-proclaimed billionaires? The Flames should build their own arena. Instead of levelling the ‘Dome, the City of Calgary should take it back,” said Banister in the statement.

“I am disgusted. I grew up in this city. I went to school here, I have businesses here, and I’m the lowest person on the totem pole as far as the Flames are concerned.

“There comes a time when you have to stand up to bullies — that time is now.”

A day later, Banister admitted he was a bit over the line.

“Sometimes I speak from my heart and maybe I came off a bit harsh about the owners of the Flames,” Banister said.

“Perhaps I shouldn’t have said that. I will apologize to them if they are upset about it. I’m just glad their attention was caught and they are going to help us out.”

Banister originally said he was given no other option than Saturday afternoon, but the Flames responded by saying that Thursday night was open and available.

Because the NLL is a weekend league and the players work day jobs, the logistics of playing on Thursday would have cost the Riggers too much.

Players on both the Riggers and Rush would have been compensated for lost income.

“We’ve never had a Thursday night in our history,” Banister said. “I know other teams have but to us it just doesn’t work for us.”


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