Roughnecks will play full season: Rush owner

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:25 AM ET

Bruce Urban fully expects his Edmonton Rush to beat the Calgary Roughnecks March 19 at the Saddledome, and not by default.

The Rush owner also can envision a Battle of Alberta in the 2011 National Lacrosse League playoffs.

Roughnecks owner Brad Banister may be facing a cash-crunch and living game-to-game, but Urban has been told unequivocally the Calgary franchise will complete the current campaign.

“I can assure you the Calgary Roughnecks will finish the season in Calgary,” Urban said. “That’s the one thing I can say. The league will be involved to make sure this team doesn’t stop at any point through the season.

“I believe they will be in Calgary for the next 20 years. It’s too good of a sport not to.”

Urban also believes the next owner of the Roughnecks is close at hand and ready to step in when the time is right.

Although he said he has no insider knowledge of the dealings, Urban expects the Calgary Flames will make another push to take over the franchise.

“The reality is it’s a great opportunity for someone else to get involved,” Urban said. “I would be very, very surprised if it was not something the Calgary Flames were interested in.

“It fits what they’ve already got. They are the landlord of the building. It’s eight dates that with the push of the Flames behind it, the crowds (will) absolutely dwarf 99% of the Hitmen games.

“With a push from the Flames, they would have 14,000 in the building for games.”

Calling Urban ‘overwhelming supportive,’ Roughnecks owner Brad Banister said he hasn’t asked the Rush owner for financial assistance despite pleading with local corporate support this week to save the team.

“His company, Western RV, has already sponsored us and he’s been fantastic through this,” Banister said. “He’s been my best friend throughout this thing.”

The struggling Riggers haven’t paid their players for the past period, which includes Sunday’s 12-11 win over the Rush in Edmonton.

There are still negotiations as to who will pick up the tab for the Roughnecks trip to Philadelphia March 4. They have another road outing in Washington before playing four of the final six games at home.

Urban is a Calgarian and owner of Western RV Country who started the Rush in 2006. He’s lost money on his team — to the tune of about $7 million — but his non-lacrosse businesses have done well.

The biggest problem the Rush have is on the floor, with only one playoff appearance in their history.

The Roughnecks haven’t had those issues, as the only time they missed the post-season was in their expansion campaign.

This is the 10th year of existence and Urban said it’s hard to picture the league without the Roughnecks.

“I’m disappointed that corporate Calgary hasn’t stepped up,” Urban said. “We aren’t in this for money. We’re just in it for the love of the game.

“Brad is no different. He’s helped pioneer professional indoor lacrosse in my opinion. There’s something to be said for that.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/ianbusby57


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