Fifteen months after winning the Major League Lacrosse championship, the Baltimore Bayhawks are leaving town.
At least they won't be going far.
The league has given approval for the Bayhawks, part of the Baltimore sports community since 2001, to relocate to Washington for the 2007 season.
In a statement issued by the MLL, commissioner David Gross said: "The ownership group requested that the league allow the club to move to the Washington, D.C., market. The Baltimore market has been a very important one to Major League Lacrosse, and we hope to one day return."
Bayhawks co-owner Jeff Harvey declined to comment on the reasons behind the move, preferring to wait until next Tuesday's scheduled news conference at Nathans of Georgetown to provide details. Scott Hiller, co-owner and coach, couldn't be reached.
"Pretty much our stance right now is the league has approved it, they sent out that press release and it speaks for itself," Harvey said.
"We do consider this an extension of our market - not excluding Baltimore, but changing venues. That's really what we're doing."
The franchise will keep its nickname. Harvey and Hiller remain in negotiations to secure a home site for their games after spending the past three seasons at Johnny Unitas Stadium on the Towson University campus.
The Bayhawks played their home games at Homewood Field on the Johns Hopkins campus in 2001 and 2003, and M&T; Bank Stadium in 2002.
As for a new home field, "none of that has been solidified," Harvey said. "We're still working on it. There have been reports about where we're playing that have been inaccurate. We haven't commented on it. It's not fair to any of those venues that we're negotiating with, or the integrity of that negotiation. It's already causing some problems. We don't want to disrupt that any more than we have to."
The Bayhawks were the only charter team to post winning records in their first five seasons before going 4-8 this year, losing their final game, at home, to the Philadelphia Barrage. They won the MLL championship in 2002 and 2005, and reached the finals in 2001 and 2003.