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Multiple sources have confirmed that the Premier Lacrosse League has begun transitioning to geographically linked clubs, marking a significant milestone in the league’s development over the last five years.
How Is Lacrosse in the USA Organized?
In 2018, Paul Rabil and his brother Mike Rabil founded the Professional Lacrosse League (PLL) with six clubs. Along the way, it was able to obtain distribution via ESPN and acquire the preeminent outdoor circuit, Major League Lacrosse (MLL), for a hefty sum.
The eight clubs that makeup North America’s Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) powered by Ticketmaster include most of the top lacrosse players in the world.
The Decision To Go Geographical
In Los Angeles’s board meeting in May 2023, PLL officials considered giving each of the league’s eight clubs an affiliation (city, state, or area). Teams may build a local fan base via initiatives like youth camps, local sponsorships, and other paid events. Longer term, it might pave the way for a more conventional home-and-away schedule.
The PLL’s existing tour-based approach won’t terminate immediately, the sources added; the eight home markets will likely become destinations on the PLL’s yearly program next year.
Geographic affiliations will likely be decided by the end of the year, with the idea, called “Project Next,” going into force after the 2023 season.
How Will They Choose Locations?
Transition details for “Project Next” have not been finalized, the sources added. In the next weeks and months, the PLL will evaluate potential first-market cities and regions. This will include looking at how many people are interested in lacrosse, how many people are buying PLL goods, how many people are attending games, and where they can play.
The league may potentially decide to rebrand or rename some of the existing franchises. For instance in 2020 PLL gained full ownership of the MLL’s intellectual property. As a result of this merger, the Boston Cannons (formerly of Major League Lacrosse) joined the Professional Lacrosse League as its eighth franchise. The Cannons are one of the most popular teams with 28,000 Twitter followers and 73,000 Instagram followers.
Should Boston be selected as a city, the Cannons would presumably be that city’s team. As part of its expansion into new markets, the PLL may decide to bring back more MLL brands.
Once the PLL’s geographical divisions are set, the league’s clubs may test out new ways to bring in money close to home, which may lead to further adjustments to the format and scheduling of the league. One of the sources claims that only last month, the board discussed the possibility of the “home” team playing two games in its market when the tour stops there next year.
While other single-entity leagues, such as the National Women’s Soccer League and Metro Soccer League, use a location-agnostic strategy to expand into new locations, this method may be more suited to the PLL because of the nature of the sport, the league’s structure, and the league’s developmental stage.
Who Owns Each Team?
There are multiple board members among such investors. Paul and Mike Rabil, Mike Levine of CAA Sports, Tsai, Doc O’Connor of Arctos, Mike Kearns of The Chernin Group, Colin Neville of Raine, Erika Ayers of Barstool Sports, and Brett Jefferson of Hildene Capital Management make up the league’s nine-person board.
Currently, the PLL owns all of its teams. It is not known if the long-term plan calls for clubs to ultimately switch to individual ownership groups, which would bring PLL in line with other single-entity leagues like MLS, or whether the existing format would be maintained. There is also the possibility of a future sale or an initial public offering (like WWE).
The Big Reveal
In order to settle on new territories, leaders looked at things like past fan statistics, television viewership, ticket sales, and young participation rates.
Just on Tuesday, the distribution of the eight teams that make up the men’s professional lacrosse circuit were announced:
● Philadelphia Waterdogs
● Boston Cannons
● Carolina Chaos
● California Redwoods
● New York Atlas
● Denver Outlaws (Chrome Lacrosse Club)
● Maryland Whipsnakes
● Utah Archers
The PLL is essentially starting from zero in terms of geography, whereas the aforementioned leagues have established footholds in major cities like New York and Los Angeles. As opposed to other leagues, the PLL has no interest in attracting new investors or charging expansion fees. The teams in the league already exist, and so do the investors.
We at LaxDrip are super excited to see the league expand in the coming years. Our prayer is a team in the most underserved major market in the country…Virginia Beach!!!