By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
The Durham TurfDogs finished last season as the winner of the Creator’s Cup and crowned the best team of the Canadian Lacrosse League (CLAX).
And for now, it appears the TurfDogs will be the final team to hold that honour.
CLAX has announced that it will be ceasing operations, starting with the 2017 season.
“The current ownership group has been operating the league for the past couple of seasons and we always do an analysis at the end of the year. It was deemed this year by the group that it was becoming a resource and a financial drain to the point where it didn’t make sense for us to continue operation,” Rob Diehl, a spokesperson for the Canadian Lacrosse League, tells The Oshawa Express.
“We tried to sort out additional resources and even additional ownership groups, but just wasn’t successful in doing so. It was decided that at this point, it’s best just to cease before we start the 2017 season.”
Diehl says there were numerous issues that led to the league’s shutter.
“The main issues at play, resource wise, are obviously the financial side of things, but there is also a staffing side of things. A lot of the staff that are involved are with other businesses as well, so it’s tough to be involved with something so heavily during the course of the season,” he says.
“It’s a multitude of things contributing (to the financial issues). There’s ticket sales, there’s the cost of the venues that we use themselves, the cost of the staff. All those things contribute to what our overall situation is.”
The Durham TurfDogs played out of the General Motors Centre, with many of the seats typically empty for a game. Diehl says more ideally sized venues were not available, as many had already been booked up for hockey games during the winter months when the league was operating.
“A lot of the challenge for the venue is finding one that is available during the winter months. It’s a major challenge because the venues that, capacity-wise, work well for us are completely booked up with minor hockey,” he says.
“Those organizations typically have contracts that are for multiple years in a row, so the opportunity to get into those venues for good dates and times for us just wasn’t an option.”
While the league has shut down, Diehl says that its ownership has not ruled out the option of bringing it back should circumstances permit it.
“We would need to address the things that were slowing us down this year,” he says.
“It would have to be a situation where we do have additional resources made available to us, and perhaps additional ownership that comes on board. Then there would be a process where we could look at things and see if we could bring it back.”
The league’s junior program, Jr. C-Lax, will not be shutting down, with Diehl saying the league is still committed to growing the sport.
Players for the league’s five teams will be released, free to play for other teams in other organizations.
Representatives from the Durham TurfDogs did not return The Oshawa Express’ request for comment prior to press time.