Roughnecks owner rolls dice

WES GILBERTSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:38 AM ET

It's a gut instinct Brad Banister estimates will cost him about a quarter-million dollars, but one that could pay dividends down the road.

At the behest of their spontaneous principle owner, the Calgary Roughnecks are offering up free tickets for Saturday's National Lacrosse League tilt against the visiting Portland LumberJax.

"I know it's a little unheard of -- nobody has ever done it, I don't think," Banister said.

"But, you know what, I kind of do some crazy stuff sometimes. This is the crazy one for the year.

"There's a risk, and hopefully there will be a reward out of it, too."

The idea dawned on Banister yesterday morning, hours after he watched the Flames and Blue Jackets do battle at a sold-out Saddledome. He figures the Riggers should be able to pack the stands, too.

"I just want to expose more people to it and what better way than to say 'Come on out and enjoy it on us,' " he said.

"Hopefully they'll come back in droves."

Roughnecks forward Kaleb Toth thinks it's a great idea and urges fans to take advantage of the offer.

"You're gonna have no excuse now," he said.

"Come check it out. I guarantee you're going to fall in love with the sport."

Through nine contests, the Roughnecks sport a 3-6 record, while the LumberJax have an identical mark.

The two squads are tied for third spot in the NLL's West Division standings.

The Riggers played before a capacity crowd at the 'Dome when they beat the Buffalo Bandits in the winner-take-all title game in 2004 and hoisted the Champions' Cup.

"Our team played great because we had such a big crowd and everyone wants to play great in front of their home crowd," Toth said. "It gives you that extra oomph to do something special."

For fans who have already purchased tickets, the club will offer a two-for-one deal for next Friday's date with the Colorado Mammoth. Season-ticket holders will be able to purchase first-round playoff tickets at half-price.

For tickets to Saturday's game, contact Ticketmaster at 777-0000. The $2.50 service charge will still apply.


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