The Ontario Raiders are coming back to Hamilton, sort of. The Toronto Rock box lacrosse club, which play in the National Lacrosse League, are moving their home games to the FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton.
The Toronto Rock of the National Lacrosse League (NLL) announced on Tuesday that the club had reached a 5-year agreement, with a team option for a multi-year extension, with Spectra managed Core Entertainment to relocate the team’s home games to Hamilton’s FirstOntario Centre beginning with the 2021-22 season.
“There are a lot of reasons with a lot of layers to this decision, but when all things were considered, we feel this is best for the future of the Toronto Rock and we’re very excited to work with FirstOntario Centre,” said Toronto Rock Owner, President and GM Jamie Dawick who has owned the team since 2009. “There is a strong business case behind the relocation to Hamilton, including a significant reduction in game operations costs as well as the opportunities that exist to better connect with our fan base and most importantly grow that fan base and increase revenues.”
The team name will not change with the relocation of the team’s home games to Hamilton. Dawick states there was consideration put into changing the name, but in the end this team and this franchise is the Toronto Rock.
“We absolutely considered it,” explained Dawick. “That being said, we have always represented the GTHA and nothing’s changed in that regard, just the location of our home games. We’re the same team, the same franchise, playing our games in a different building and community. We are playing in Hamilton because it’s where we want to be for the long-term.”
The relocation of home games to Hamilton without a rebrand to include Hamilton in the team identity seems like an odd choice. Hamilton and Toronto have long been sports rivals, most notably with the Tiger-Cats and Argos of the CFL. It’s unclear how much local excitement there will be for a Toronto team playing in Hamilton.
The 2021-22 National League Lacrosse season is scheduled to kick of on the weekend of December 3rd-4th. The schedule will call for 18 regular season games followed by Playoffs and a Championship Series.
The Rock aren’t the first lacrosse team to make the move from Toronto to Hamilton. Back in 2009, field lacrosse team the Toronto Nationals of the now defunct Major League Lacrosse made the move to Hamilton as the Hamilton Nationals. The team was in Hamilton for several years before relocating to Florida.
Hamilton is also home to a junior box lacrosse team in the Hamilton Bengals.
What do you think of this move to Hamilton? Will you take in any games?
The Rock join other Hamilton sports teams the Hamilton Honey Badgers and the Hamilton Bulldogs who also play home games out of the FirstOntario Centre.