OLA likely to approve Excelsiors move to Owen Sound in December

Owen Sound North Stars senior B owner Joe Norton is moving the 11-time Mann Cup champion Brampton Excelsiors senior A club to Owen Sound. Pictured: The Owen Sound Bug Juice North Stars senior B team celebrate a goal on June 15, 2019 Greg Cowan/The Sun Times

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The Brampton Excelsiors move to Owen Sound will likely be approved by the Ontario Lacrosse Association board of directors in December.

Newly acclaimed OLA President Jim Bomhof said Thursday that he has now received three letters of support from the North Stars’ senior B, junior B and minor lacrosse programs. That, along with unanimous support from the Major Series Lacrosse board of governors, has the move all but assured despite some recent pushback.

“I’m trying to keep everyone happy, but in the end, it’s not going to keep anyone happy,” Bomhof said.

Detroit-based businessman Joe Norton purchased both the Brampton Excelsiors senior A team and the Owen Sound North Stars senior B team in 2018.

Earlier this year, Norton proposed moving the Brampton team to Owen Sound. He said the market in Brampton could no longer support the MSL team, despite the 150 some-odd years of history steeped in the community and the Excelsior name.

The move to Owen Sound was unanimously approved by the MSL board of governors in a vote on Oct. 15.

Final approval to move a club, or create an expansion club, goes to the OLA. However, the OLA had its annual general meeting scheduled for early November. At that meeting, Bomhof was acclaimed as the provincial lacrosse governing body’s new president and four new members joined the OLA board.

Bomhof has had a chance now to look over the move of the team and said he’ll likely bring it to the board for approval when they reconvene for their second official meeting in December – at the latest.

“In most cases, it’s a rubber stamp, based on the information I have. It’s just that there is some pushback that I have to rectify first,” Bomhof said. “We thought maybe there were some issues, but I’ve got some more information, and Joe (Norton) responded, and in talking with Doug Luey the commissioner of the league (MSL), he also let me know that the league supported it fully. So that sort of, that’s where we’re at now.”

Bomhof said the pushback in Brampton stems from some people taking issue with the original sale of the team to Norton in 2018.

“There’s a bit of disagreement within the Excelsiors’ program, their association, of how the process of selling the team happened,” Bomhof said. “But that might just be an internal thing.”

Bomhof said he will follow-up on the matter, but as of Wednesday, with the information he had, he didn’t expect it to affect the move of the Excelsiors to Owen Sound.

“There will probably be some discussion because Brampton is a very historic franchise,” Bomhof said. “The major team has a lot of history behind it, so I think with a lot of the lacrosse people in Brampton it hasn’t been a very good news situation right now, especially since they’re celebrating their 150th year as an organization.”

Both the Owen Sound North Stars senior B team and Brampton Excelsiors senior A team were community-owned clubs prior to the transfer of ownership to Norton.

Excelsiors president Ziggy Musial was quoted in the Brampton Guardian at the time of the deal.

“I think we were probably the unique organization that was community-based for years and years and years, but it came to the point where we needed some revenue to keep the team going and keep it competitive,” Musial said.

Financial terms were not disclosed at the time of the deal.

Norton said Thursday that any claim the transfer of the Excelsiors in 2018 would somehow prevent the move to Owen Sound is completely baseless.

“There is nothing to substantiate any of that,” Norton said. “I don’t think they want to see the team move, that seems to be the gist of it.”

Norton said the Excelsiors were getting lost in Brampton, and the move to Owen Sound is being made to save the club.

“It’s about growing the sport and we were not putting a dent in Brampton,” Norton said. “There were games we had nine people there, and that happened a lot, it wasn’t just one game . . . we stepped into Brampton to save the team. We didn’t want to move it. But we’re moving the team to save it. That’s the point. Some guys are upset that the team will not be in Brampton, but the team will be saved, and I think that’s why the whole league voted for it.”

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