Professional lacrosse is returning to Albany’s Times Union Center after almost two decades.
National Lacrosse League were at the arena late Tuesday to announce The New England Black Wolves are moving to the TU Center. NLL President George Manias says Albany's NLL team will be competitive and "put on a good show."
"When we talk about bringing a team back like we did with indoor football and like we're doing with lacrosse, times have changes and the market is now ripe. COVID, what a perfect opportunity now we see light at the end of the tunnel and arenas and stadiums are opening up again. It's the perfect timeframe. We don't play until December. That gives us 10 months. When we were here last time I think we had three or four months to turn things around. So for 10 months think of what we can do and the impact that we can make."
Previously, the franchise played six seasons at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.
To celebrate the move, there's a new albanynll.com website, with links to the team's social media accounts, and Manias invites everyone to click the link and participate in the "name the team" contest.
Albany NLL owner Oliver Marti says the franchise is looking forward to working with Siena, Union and RPI's lacrosse programs that are developing and growing. With the University at Albany men’s lacrosse team a perennial power, Marti is hoping to carry that interest around the year.
"Albany is quickly becoming a hotbed, and if it's any evidence of the support the fans are gonna show, the PLL obviously came here in 2019 and sold out the crowd, so we're excited to do the same thing here."
A number of former UAlbany lacrosse stars returned to town as part of that outdoor league, the Premier Lacrosse League.
Albany County Executive Dan McCoy rolled out the welcome mat, inviting the players to become part of the Albany community, while inviting the public to gather and root for the new Albany team.
"To just really enjoy life's moments, and you know, when we try to take a step back and the reality of the world that we're in, to enjoy a moment in time with your family, or with your friends, or with your neighbors, and then have them nice agreements, agree to disagree, but still communicate. And to watch this lacrosse, it's going to be so exciting."
For the country-owned area, the franchise will help fill a void after a year without Siena basketball, the NCAA tournament, and following the loss of the Albany Empire arena football team’s Arena Football League. A new arena football team of the same name is set to begin play in the National Arena League this spring.
The NLL canceled its 2020 season last April because of the pandemic. The league initially planned a shortened season this year beginning in April, but that also was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. A traditional season is scheduled to begin in the fall.