New York Riptide and National Lacrosse League Targeting An April Start To 2021 Season

NLL/New York Riptide

After the 2019-20 National Lacrosse League season was cut short in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, plans are now in place for a 2021 season that will begin this spring.  The NLL is targeting an opening weekend for April 9th to 11th, 2021 and the New York Riptide will commence the second season in franchise history that weekend.

The Riptide will once again call the Nassau Coliseum home and they will open the season on April 10th at “The Barn” according to a source.

“I would first like to thank NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz and the league office for their leadership and guidance through this process. The health and safety of our players, staff, fans and entire community have remained at the forefront of all our decision making,” said Rich Lisk, Executive Vice President of GF Sports & Entertainment.

During the pandemic, the operators of the Nassau Coliseum shuttered the arena bringing into question what the future held for the building that opened in 1972 and was renovated between 2015 and 2017.  Nassau County Executive Laura Curran was confident that a new operator for the Coliseum would be found to take over the lease and last month Islanders President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello confirmed that the Isles would play the 2020-21 NHL season in Uniondale before moving to the UBS Arena at Belmont Park for the 2021-22 season.

With the Coliseum back in business, the Riptide will continue the storied history of box lacrosse on Long Island at 1255 Hempstead Turnpike.

“After much careful consideration and discussion, we are excited to announce that the Riptide will return to Nassau Coliseum for the 2021 NLL season and we will work with the League to target the April 9-11, 2021 weekend to open the season,” said Lisk.   “We can’t wait to get back to the floor and will continue to strictly follow Federal, State and County guidelines to ensure the safest environment possible, and hope to have the opportunity to play in front of our amazing fans as soon as possible.”

The Riptide has been working with the other NLL teams, the NLL Players Association, all of the league’s arenas, and health and government officials to prepare for the 2021 season, the 35th campaign in National Lacrosse History.  The April start date is expected to give the league and the teams enough time to have the proper protocols in place for the players, coaches, staff and fans.  The league is hoping to be able to play a full season schedule that would extend into the summer.

If all goes according to plan, the Riptide and the NLL will be back on the field this coming April.

“We are working with all teams to provide the safest environment and an acceptable level of fans in the stands,” said NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz.  “We understand that current circumstances will dictate whether this plan is achievable and we will be prepared to remain flexible and pivot as needed.  We want to thank all our players, fans and partners who have supported our efforts to stay connected and engaged during this prolonged offseason and are looking forward to returning to play in April.”

Under the plan announced by the NLL, all of the teams would report to their individual training camps, some of which will be virtual and some will be in-person, in mid-March and those will take place under strict guidelines.  There are a number of scenarios that the league is looking into in terms of longer-term restrictions in both United States and Canadian municipalities with regard to immigration and facility use.  The league’s plans will be fluid and include multiple options that will have the best-case scenarios for all parties involved as April approaches.

As the off-season continues, the Riptide continues to operate the “Riptide Training Academy” that was launched this past summer and includes exclusive box lacrosse instruction with camps, clinics and tournaments on Long Island.   There are fall clinics coming up designed for novice, pee-wee, bantam and midget aged players at the Sportime facility in Bethpage and there will be and additional clinics and events during the course of the 2021 Riptide/NLL season.

While the New York area and the country continues to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, sports leagues continue to map out how things will look going forward.  The NHL, Major League Baseball, NBA, WNBA, NFL and Major League Soccer were able to get back on the rinks, fields, and courts and now the National Lacrosse League has a plan in place to get back on the field/rinks this coming spring.

If everything falls into place, the New York Riptide will be back at the Nassau Coliseum in April.

About the Author

Peter Schwartz

Peter Schwartz is a contributor covering the Islanders for NY Sports Day while also writing about general sports in the New York/New Jersey area. In addition to his column, Peter also hosts his “Schwartz On Sports” podcast as he interviews players, coaches, and other sports personalities. He is also currently a sports anchor for WFAN Radio, CBS Sports Radio, and WCBS 880 radio while also serving as the public address announcer for the New York Cosmos soccer club.

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