World Team Tennis announced Wednesday that the Boston Lobsters will not compete in 2016 and a new franchise named the New York Empire will take their place.
The WTT was not able “to find the right fit” for local ownership of the Boston team, according to a WTT news release, but is not ruling out a return to Massachusetts.
“Local ownership and a commitment to community are integral to the success of any professional sports franchise,” WTT commissioner Ilana Kloss said. “The door is always open in the years ahead to return to Boston with the right ownership.”
The Lobsters emerged in the 1970s as one of the inaugural team tennis franchises, and one of the team’s first owners was Patriots owner Robert Kraft. The Lobsters resurfaced in 2005 when Bahar Uttam purchased the team. The league took over operations of the Lobsters in 2015 after Uttam retired from the sports business.
“It’s one of the all-time great team names and logos; we’re going to miss Boston,” said WTT spokeswoman Rosie Crews. “We are going to continue to look at people in Boston. It’s a great market. We just need local ownership.”
The Empire will be New York’s first professional tennis team since the 2013 season, when the New York Sportimes relocated to San Diego.
The New York Empire join the Washington Kastles, Philadelphia Freedoms, Springfield (Missouri) Lasers, San Diego Aviators, and Orange County Breakers. The 12-match regular season runs July 31 through Aug. 13.Christopher Frangolini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @bigfrang.