By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
EVERETT — The Washington Stealth are staying in Everett.
The National Lacrosse League team has decided to exercise a five-year option with Comcast Arena, ensuring the team will play in Everett next season. The official announcement is expected today.
The Stealth relocated from San Jose, Calif., prior to the 2010 season and signed a three-year lease agreement with Comcast Arena. That agreement expired at the end of the 2012 season, which created a decision for Stealth owners Bill and Denise Watkins. The three options were to exercise the five-year option, relocate the franchise or cease operations.
After mulling over the decision since the Stealth’s season ended April 28, the owners decided they wanted the team to stay in Everett.
“This contract extension has all the elements of a strong partnership,” Denise Watkins told The Herald. “We love this market, our dedicated fans, and our partners who help make it possible to showcase the team.”
The Stealth found success on the field in their first season in Everett, posting the league’s best regular-season record and winning the franchise’s first championship with a 15-11 victory over Toronto in the NLL title game. The Stealth returned to the championship game in 2011, this time falling to Toronto 8-7. However, in 2012 the Stealth finished 4-12, the worst record in the NLL.
Despite their success on the field, the Stealth have struggled at the gate. They averaged 3,903 fans per game last season, well below the league average of 9,469.