Local lacrosse squad New York Riptide relocating to Ottawa following 2024 season

Jeff Teat New York Riptide
New York Riptide star Jeff Teat (Photo courtesy of the Riptide)

The New York Riptide, an indoor lacrosse team that plays its home games at Nassau Coliseum, is relocating to Ottawa, an announcement from the Canadian capital revealed on Wednesday.

The team will be rebranded as the Ottawa Black Bears with the move coming at the end of the 2024 season.

On behalf of the entire organization, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to the Long Island community,” a letter from the team to season ticket holders, obtained by amNewYork, read. “For the past five years, we have had the honor of calling Long Island our home and the privilege of playing at the iconic Nassau Coliseum.  

“We are sincerely appreciative of every fan who has attended, or watched, a game and supported our organization in any manner. The New York Riptide are eternally grateful for the loyalty shown from the local lacrosse faithful who were with us from our i nception and remained by our side to watch us grow.”

Competing in the National Lacrosse League (NLL), which is North America’s top-flight box lacrosse league that features 15 teams, the Riptide had difficulties drawing fans to Nassau Coliseum despite the Long Island area being a hotbed of the sport in the United States. 

This season, the Riptide ranked second-to-last in average home attendance, which comes in at under 4,500 fans per game. 

Long Island was initially awarded an indoor team in December of 2018 and began play one year later. Over their first three seasons, they went 12-37 and are 5-5 to start the 2024 campaign.

Despite their poor play, they’ve picked up some of the league’s best talent, headlined by star forward Jeff Teat, who recorded a remarkable 56 goals and 80 assists in 18 games last season that garnered first-team All-NLL honors.

Nassau Coliseum Las Vegas Sands
Nassau Coliseum (Wikimedia Commons)

The move brings another unceremonious ending to a third NLL team on Long Island and at Nassau Coliseum. The New York Saints spent 14 years in the area from 1989-2003. The New York Titans also had a short stint in operation from 2007-2009.

But there is uncertainty surrounding Nassau Coliseum. The 80 acres of land it is sitting on has been purchased for $241 million by Las Vegas Sands in hopes of revitalizing the area with a casino, luxury hotel, and a world-class live performance venue. However, a local judge blocked the move in November.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman had admitted in the past that regardless of what goes there, the Coliseum can’t survive in its current form.

“There has to be significantly more revenue than what’s being generated there now,” he told amNewYork in January of 2023. “You also have to take into consideration the fact that is the Coliseum viable? As it currently exists, I don’t think it is.”

The NHL’s New York Islanders called the Coliseum home from 1972-2015 before an inability to refurbish the building and the barren land around it prompted the team to move to Brooklyn for a short time. 
Nassau County downsized the building to a 13,000-seat capacity and welcomed back the Islanders for sporadic stints beginning in 2018 before their current home, UBS Arena, opened for the 2021-22 season.

Since then, the lights at the Coliseum have been off far more than they have been on. Other than the Riptide, which plays nine home games per year at the venue, the only regular tenant is the Brooklyn Nets’ G-League affiliate, which averaged just over 2,100 fans per game last season.

An overhead view of the land that Nassau Coliseum is built on.Wikimedia Commons

For more on the Riptide and New York sports, visit AMNY.com