The National Lacrosse League (NLL), the largest men’s indoor professional league announced the brands and identities for two of its newest expansion teams.
A few short months ago, the National Lacrosse League awarded the live events and sports media entertainment company GF Sports and its affiliates the New York expansion team. Just prior to that event, the NLL granted current Rochester Knighthawks owner Curt Styres the expansion market, Halifax. This weekend, both teams officially announced their team names and brand identities.
The New York Riptide was announced as the team name at a special event at NYCB Live, Home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on the final day of the New York Open, an annual men’s professional ATP tournament owned and operated by GF Sports. The brand was revealed on the court prior to the singles and doubles finals matches. On hand were New York Islanders legend Butch Goring, New York Cosmos and Arrows legend Shep Messing, and Kevan Abrahams (D-Hempstead), Minority Leader, Nassau County Legislator.“The fans spoke, and the overwhelming choice was New York Riptide,” said Gary Fuhrman, Managing Partner at GF Capital and Board Member of GF Sports. “We are excited to give the greatest lacrosse fans in the world, a fresh, new brand for professional lacrosse. The name Riptide signifies the unbridled strength of ocean currents, an unstoppable force of nature inextricably linked with Long Island.”
Halifax revealed the Thunderbirds as the team name at an event at the Halifax Convention Centre. The brand was revealed along with a ceremonial smudging, symbolic for a spiritual cleansing. In attendance were Indigenous peoples in full regalia to honor and cement both the team and the region’s connection to Indigenous people.
“It was incredibly special to launch the Thunderbirds with traditional Mi’kmaq ceremony as our people ritually began our matches ancestrally,” said Owner Curt Styres. “To continue the legacy of Indigenous sport and culture is personal to me and to see how this sport is being embraced here today in Mi’kmaki is overwhelming.”
Over the last 18 months, the NLL has added four new teams in emerging lacrosse markets with ownership groups who have experience in live sports and entertainment in state-of-the-art arenas.
Both the Philadelphia Wings and the San Diego Seals, expansion teams this year, have enjoyed tremendous success in their markets with attendance, sponsorships and live viewership numbers. The Riptide and Thunderbirds, both led by experienced ownership groups, will be flagship teams in the NLL.
This weekend’s announcements are part of the league’s long-term goal of reaching 20 teams. One of the key pillars of the NLL Board of Governors’ five-year strategic plan was thoughtful expansion with a sharp focus on the right markets, arenas, and ownership groups. Both Halifax and New York fit that bill.
“We are very proud to announce the brands for both of our newest expansion teams,” said NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz. “Today marks yet another monumental day for New York, Halifax, our fans and the league. With the reveal of the Thunderbirds and Riptide as Halifax and New York’s official brand identities, there are many reasons for excitement in these cities as we inch closer to their inaugural games in December 2019. We’re excited to be in two vibrant markets with passionate and knowledge lacrosse fans and are looking forward to their sustained success in our league.”
Inspired by traditional New York team colors, the New York Riptide color scheme is navy blue and orange, while adding a seafoam green to capture the signature Riptide feel. The logo features a lacrosse stick in action amid swirling water to reflect the unrelenting power of the team that GF Sports is looking to build. To come up with the Riptide name, the team reached out to fans on their website for feedback and Riptide was the overwhelming favorite.
The Thunderbirds name was chosen in recognition to the Indigenous peoples and military connections in the Halifax region. “Naming a team is a very difficult process with numerous variables and options to consider.” Said Chris Bell, Chief Business Officer for the Thunderbirds. “However, from the very beginning, we wanted to find a name that embraced the territory within which we will be playing, by acknowledging and paying respect to the First Nation peoples and Military connections of the region we call home. Thunderbirds delivers that all on both fronts.”
The Riptide will play all their home games at NYCB LIVE and the Thunderbirds will play at Scotiabank Centre when both teams begin play in December for the 2019-20 NLL season. The Thunderbirds will assume the roster, staff and all history and records of the Knighthawks.
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About the National Lacrosse League
The National Lacrosse League (NLL) is North America’s premier professional indoor lacrosse league. Founded in 1986, the NLL ranks third in average attendance for pro indoor sports worldwide, behind only the NHL and NBA. The League is comprised of 13 franchises across the United States and Canada: Buffalo Bandits, Calgary Roughnecks, Colorado Mammoth, Georgia Swarm, Halifax Thunderbirds, New England Black Wolves, New York Riptide, Philadelphia Wings, Rochester Knighthawks, San Diego Seals, Saskatchewan Rush, Toronto Rock, and Vancouver Warriors. For more information, visit NLL.com and find the NLL on Facebook, Instagram andTwitter.
About GF Sports
GF Sports is a live events and sports media entertainment company created by New York-based private equity firm GF Capital Management & Advisors, LLC. Formed in July 2015, GF Sports owns two of the ATP World Tour’s longest running American tournaments, the New York Open and the BB&T Atlanta Open, as well as the New York Riptide of the National Lacrosse League, the largest men’s professional indoor lacrosse league in North America. In addition, an affiliate at GF Sports is the major shareholder in EEM World, a global leader in equestrian event production that owns and operates the Longines Masters Series. GF Sports also incubates new and emerging sport concepts utilizing its global expertise and network to help develop niche sports. Such concepts include Wolf Pack Ninjas, which operates ninja-focused events globally. Veteran sport, media and entertainment executive Hank Ratner is a co-investor with GF Capital across the company’s various sports properties.
GF Capital makes control-oriented, growth capital investments in branded consumer product and media companies, and its investments have included a number of sports and live entertainment companies. These include Repucom, a global leader in sports measurement, evaluation and intelligence, which was sold to Nielsen in 2016 and Blue Man Group, the world-renowned entertainment company which was sold to Cirque du Soleil in 2017.
About the Halifax Thunderbirds
The Halifax Thunderbirds will being play in December 2019 for their inaugural season at the Scotiabank Centre. The Thunderbirds are the first professional sports team in Halifax as part of the National Lacrosse League (NLL), North America’s premier professional indoor lacrosse league. Halifax was awarded a franchise on September 13, 2018. For more information, visit HalifaxThunderbirds.com.