February 22, 2011

Calgary Owner Makes Desperate Plea

from staff reports

The Calgary Roughnecks' financial difficulties caused owner and general Brad Banister to admit Tuesday that players' paychecks would be late and to issue a "very desperate letter" to the city to help save the National Lacrosse League franchise. Banister put the team up for sale just prior to the start of the season.

"The look in my eyes I can only imagine was that of a beaten dog, perhaps the hardest thing I have ever had to do," Banister said in the statement of explaining to the team why paychecks were late. "I believe I had finally given up. To walk around the dressing room and inflict that kind of burden on a young team before a divisional rival such as Edmonton was the most embarrassing and humbling thing I have ever done."

The Roughnecks defeated the Rush, 12-11, in that game Sunday to improve to 5-3 and remain in first place in the NLL's West Division.

"They never gave up and never once quit," Banister said. "It is for that reason among many that I write this desperate letter. I am not ready to quit either."

Banister cited the Roughnecks' philanthropic efforts and involvement in the Calgary community in an appeal to the city's corporations and fans to better support the team.

"All this will end if the club has to close its doors," Banister said.

"It is time to call out the groups that need so desperately to step up. The only revenue that this team survives on is advertising and ticket sales (suite tickets excluded). We have never reached out to the city of Calgary or corporate Calgary in the past. When I look around the city and witness that every professional team or performing arts group of Calgary has a building or facility to use that some what gives them a chance for survival it saddens me. When I look at all the teams or groups in Calgary that have bank sponsorship, energy sponsors, service company sponsorship, automobile dealerships as well as food chains.

"A Save our Stamps campaign rescued the local football team back in the 80s. The Flames too have had their problem years.

"The City of Calgary, its citizens and the business community did not turn their backs on them when assistance was required. We ask nothing more than that for the Roughnecks."

Calgary won NLL championships in 2004 and 2009.


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