January 17, 2011
For the second straight season, a team comprised predominantly of Canadian players reached the pinnacle of American field lacrosse, as the expansion Toronto Nationals defeated the Denver Outlaws, 10-9, in the Major League Lacrosse championship game before an announced 7,003 fans at Navy Marine-Corps Memorial Stadium.  © John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com
For the second straight season, a team comprised predominantly of Canadian players reached the pinnacle of American field lacrosse, as the expansion Toronto Nationals defeated the Denver Outlaws, 10-9, in the Major League Lacrosse championship game before an announced 7,003 fans at Navy Marine-Corps Memorial Stadium. © John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

Nationals Announcement on Hold

by Corey McLaughlin | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff | updated 01.17.11 at 9:34 p.m.

The press conference expected Tuesday announcing the move of Major League Lacrosse’s Toronto Nationals to Hamilton, Ontario, has been postponed for “about two weeks,” according to lead negotiator Lewis Staats, who is working on behalf of Nationals owner Curt Styres.
 
Staats said he is acting on the advice of lawyers and that there are “I's to dot and T’s to cross” in regards to the Nationals playing games at McMaster University in Hamilton, about an hour drive southwest of Toronto.
 
Staats, who was asked by Styres to take the lead on negotiations in November, didn’t say specifically what is holding the deal up. He said Friday a draft lease to play at Ron Joyce Stadium , a 6,000-capacity facility, had been approved by the Nationals and MLL, and a deal was close to final.
 
Tuesday’s press conference was also expected to announce that Hamilton Entertainment and Convention Facilities Inc., would handle the Nationals' marketing and promotions.
 
A move to Hamilton would entail Styres assuming 100 percent ownership of the club. He was a part owner last year.
 
Styres, from Ohsweken, Ontario, on the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve, also owns the Rochester Knighthawks of the National Lacrosse League and Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League, both of which Staats is president.


by Corey McLaughlin | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff The Toronto Nationals of Major League Lacrosse will relocate to Hamilton, Ontario, and play the 2011 season at McMaster University, according to lead negotiator Lewis Staats. A press conference is expected to be held Tuesday announcing the move to Hamilton, Staats said.

Since November, Staats has handled negotiations of a possible team relocation on behalf of Nationals owner Curt Styres. Staats is the president of the National Lacrosse League's Rochester Knighthawks, also owned by Styres. He said Friday the Nationals were near finalizing an agreement to play at Ron Joyce Stadium, a 6,000-capacity facility. He was also near an agreement with Hamilton Entertainment and Convention Facilities Inc. to manage the Nationals' marketing and promotions.
 
A move to Hamilton, Staats said, would also entail Styres assuming 100 percent ownership of the club. Team president Stu Brown will remain in his position.
 
The team is still without a coach after Dave Huntley’s resignation, and there is no word on a replacement. Jody Gage was named the team’s general manager in December. The MLL regular season begins in May.

The Nationals played last season at Toronto’s Lamport Stadium, a 9,600-seat venue, and had its inaugural season at BMO Field, a 20,000-seat stadium that is also home to MLS’s Toronto FC.
The team averaged 3,846 fans per game in 2009 at BMO Field and averaged 3,079 last season at Lamport, finishing fifth in league attendance each year.

Staats said a move to Hamilton, located about an hour drive southwest of Toronto, makes sense in part because there is less traffic in the area, which will hopefully encourage more people to attend games.

“My position, being involved in business in southern Ontario, is that a lot of the decision making-process about whether people go and watch a sports event is dictated a lot by traffic,” Staats said.

On Thursday, Styres told LMO that he wouldn’t mind returning to BMO Field in Toronto, but Staats said although it’s a great facility, McMaster University is a better fit for the team. Ron Joyce Stadium is home to the university’s football team, and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League use the stadium for training camp.

Staats is not officially on the Nationals staff, but could be in the future, he said.


Nationals Still Homeless; Coach Resigns

by Corey McLaughlin | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

The status of the Toronto Nationals' possible move to Hamilton, Ontario, remained unclear Thursday, despite reports that a deal would be done by the end of this week.

Nationals owner Curt Styres said Thursday that "nothing is signed in either place," meaning an agreement to play in a venue in either Hamilton or Toronto.

The Nationals played last season at Lamport Stadium in Toronto following its inaugural season at BMO Field, a 20,000-seat stadium that is also home to MLS's Toronto FC -- and a place Styres said Thursday he wouldn't mind returning to.

Last week The Hamilton Spectator reported that Lewis Staats, president of the NLL's Rochester Knighthawks -- which Styres also owns -- had taken the lead in negotiations to potentially play at McMaster University in Hamilton, which is about an hour drive southwest of Toronto. The goal was to have a deal by Jan. 15, Staats told the newspaper.

Styres said Thursday that the Nationals are still trying to reach a deal this week, but "as we're sitting here, nothing's done."

In other Nats news, the resignation of head coach Dave Huntley was announced this week. Huntley, who coached the team in each of its two seasons of existence and to a league championship in 2009, said he decided to step down at the end of the 2010 season.

A replacement hasn't been named. Clancy Almas, Jason Johnson and Paul Stewart were assistants to Huntley last season.

"Nobody has formally put in an application," Styres said. "Huntley resigned, and we want somebody who is going to make a positive impact on the team. We'd like to be competitive."

The MLL collegiate draft is set for Jan. 21, one week from Friday. Training camps start in April, with the season beginning in May.

The Nationals averaged 3,846 fans per game in 2009 at BMO Field. They averaged 3,079 last season at Lamport, a 9,600-seat venue, and finished with a 3-9 record.


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