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NLL's Philadelphia Wings to move to Connecticut, play at Mohegan Sun Arena

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Update: The Wings name and logo will stay in Philadelphia, according to Inside Lacrosse. Last month, NLL commissioner George Daniel issued a statement saying the league hopes to land a new ownership group and arena deal there. "To all of the Philadelphia Wings fans, keep the faith,” the statement read.

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The Philadelphia Wings of the indoor National Lacrosse League have been purchased by the Mohegan Sun Tribal Gaming Authority and will move to Connecticut for the 2014-2015 season, according to multiple reports.

The move is expected to be officially announced Wednesday. The Mohegan Sun group also owns the WNBA's Connecticut Sun.

Last month, the Wings' owners announced that they would move from Philadelphia, the franchise's home since the league's debut in 1987. TheDay.com was the first to report that Connecticut is their destination. The Wings were the only original NLL team still playing in the same city.

The move will mark the return of the nine-team NLL to New England, which hasn't had a team since the Boston Blazers suspended operations after the 2011 season. The Blazers' last season was marred by a halftime show in which three fans competed to give the best lap dance to the team mascot.

The Wings -- or whatever their name will be -- will play at the 10,000-seat Mohegan Sun Arena, which has about half the capacity of their former arena, the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The team's attendance has declined precipitously since its halcyon days in the 1980s and '90s, and it hasn't reached the championship game since 2001.

According to Sportsblog.com, the Wings averaged the second-lowest attendance in the league last season, at 6,864 per game. That marked a decrease of more than 10 percent from the previous season.

In last month's announcement, owner and team president Michael French said: “The financial model in a market with so many sport and entertainment alternatives has proven to be unsustainable. Finding a new venue with new strategic partners was the only way to ensure financial stability.”

The Wings have multiple ties to the Baltimore area: defender John Ranagan was an All-American midfielder at Johns Hopkins, where he was a teammate of defender Mike Poppleton, who is on the Wings' practice squad. Megastar Paul Rabil (Johns Hopkins) had 17 goals and 21 assists for the Wings in 2013 but opted not to play last season. 

In last fall's draft, the Wings selected defender Tucker Durkin from Johns Hopkins at No. 19 overall, but he didn't play.

Also, assistant coach Chris Collins played for the Washington Bayhawks of Major League Lacrosse. Friends coach Tom Marechek starred for the Wings from 1994 to 2005, winning four championships in the league, which was renamed in 1998 as the National Lacrosse League from the Major Indoor Lacrosse League.

 

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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