Major League Lacrosse
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Major League Lacrosse
Major League Lacrosse
Major League Lacrosse logo.svg
SportField lacrosse
Founded1999
Inaugural season2001
CommissionerSandy Brown
No. of teams9
CountriesUnited States
Most recent
champion(s)
Denver Outlaws (2018)
Most titlesChesapeake Bayhawks (5 titles)
TV partner(s)Lax Sports Network
Official websiteOfficial website Edit this at Wikidata
Current sports event2018 MLL season

Major League Lacrosse (MLL) is a professional field lacrosse league consisting of nine teams in the United States. The league's inaugural season was in 2001. Teams play 14 regular-season games from late April to early August, with a four-team playoff for the championship trophy, the Steinfeld Trophy. MLL averaged 3,844 spectators per game during the 2017 season, down from a peak of 6,417 in 2011.[1]

As a professional league, MLL players earn annual salaries in the $10,000-$35,000 range.[2][3] Players and staff generally hold other jobs[4][5] and the league does not provide health insurance coverage.[6]

The current champion is the Denver Outlaws, who defeated the Dallas Rattlers 16-12 in 2018.

History

Founding (2001-2005)

MLL Progression
Year Teams Games Played
2001 6 teams 14 games
2002
2003 12 games
2004
2005
2006 10 teams
2007
2008
2009 6 teams
2010
2011
2012 8 teams 14 games
2013
2014
2015
2016 9 teams
2017
2018

Major League Lacrosse was founded in 1999 by Jake Steinfeld, Dave Morrow and Tim Robertson. Steinfeld is the creator of the Body By Jake line of exercise equipment and videos. Morrow is a former All-American lacrosse player at Princeton and the president of Warrior Sports.[7] Tim Robertson is the son of televangelist Pat Robertson and the former CEO of The Family Channel.[8][9]

MLL began regular season play in June 2001 with six teams in the northeastern U.S. split into two divisions. The American Division included teams in Boston, Bridgeport, Connecticut, and on Long Island; the National Division included teams in Baltimore, New Jersey, and Rochester. All teams were owned by the league, which assigned three franchise players to each team before the initial draft.[10]

The MLL played a 14-game regular season its first two years, then the schedule was cut to 12 games. After the first year, the league's playoff format had the top teams in each division advancing to the semifinals, with two wild card playoff spots going to the teams with the next-best records regardless of division.

In 2003, New Balance became a "founding member" and major sponsor of MLL.[9] New Balance founder and CEO, Jim Davis got very involved in the operation of the league, including providing financial support. Davis still owns two franchises, the Dallas Rattlers and Florida Launch, and is a minority owner in the two 2012 expansion teams, the Ohio Machine and Charlotte Hounds.[11]

Four out of the first five championship games were between the Long Island Lizards and the Baltimore Bayhawks. The Lizards won titles in 2001 and 2003, the Bayhawks in 2002 and 2005. The recently relocated Philadelphia Barrage beat the Boston Cannons 13–11 in 2004's final.

In 2005, Andrew Goldstein became the first American male team-sport professional athlete to be openly gay during his playing career.[12] Goldstein played goalie for the Long Island Lizards from 2005 to 2007, although he only appeared in two games in 2006.[13]

Expansion and contraction (2006-2011)

MLL added four teams for the 2006 season, bringing the league's number of teams up to ten. The expansion markets were Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, and San Francisco, extending the league across the country and into top media markets. MLL combined the original six teams into the Eastern Conference and put the new teams into the Western Conference.

Lizards at Rattlers in 2008.

The Los Angeles Riptide were owned by the Anschutz Entertainment Group and played its home games at the Home Depot Center. The Denver Broncos' owner Pat Bowlen brought the Denver Outlaws to an NFL stadium, Mile High. The other new franchises were the Chicago Machine and the San Francisco Dragons.[14]

Despite winning championships in 2006 and 2007, Philadelphia didn't attract more than 2,500 fans to their games. So in 2008, the Barrage tested out new markets by playing all of its "home" matches in five other cities: Cary, North Carolina; Hillsboro, Oregon; Irving, Texas; St. Louis; and Virginia Beach. In addition, the Barrage's "home game" against the Cannons was played in Boston.

At the end of the 2008 season, four teams – Los Angeles, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and San Francisco – folded due to financial problems. Several of these teams suffered from poor attendance, San Francisco drew 2,808 per game and only 1,920 in New Jersey.[15] This contraction forced the remaining six teams to form one conference.

The Rochester Rattlers won the 2008 Steinfeld Cup but like the Barrage, struggled at the gate. At the start of the 2009 season, a new ownership group in Toronto bought the rights to the Rochester franchise. The Toronto Nationals inherited the staff and players of the team, but the Rattlers' name and team colors were left in Rochester for the possibility of a future team.[7] That same group of players went on to win another championship in 2009 playing for a different team in a different country.

The Chicago Machine played the entire 2010 season as a traveling team testing expansion markets for the league, before deciding that the franchise would be moving to Rochester and adopting the Rattlers name in 2011.[16]

In 2010, the Bayhawks and Lizards met for the fifth time in the championship game. The Bayhawks prevailed 13-9, almost the same score as when they beat Long Island 15-9 five years earlier. The newly renamed Chesapeake Bayhawks went on to win two more championships in the next three years, in 2012 and 2013. Their five Steinfeld Cup trophies are the most in MLL history.

The league's attendance peaked at 6,417 per game in the 2011 season. The individual franchises had a wide range of local support. Denver lead the league in attendance, drawing 12,331 fans per game in 2011, while the relocated Hamilton Nationals had 1,214 people per game, one-tenth of Denver's attendance.[17]

Southern trend (2012-present)

Jordan Wolf dodging vs. Chesapeake Bayhawks in 2017.

During the early years of MLL, the league did not have any teams in the southeast. Then Charlotte and Columbus were approved to host expansion teams in 2012. That year the league grew to eight teams and two more games were added to the schedule for a total of 14, allowing each franchise to play the other teams in the league twice.

In November 2013, the Hamilton Nationals folded and an expansion franchise was awarded to the Florida Launch for 2014 with Hamilton's players.[18] The Atlanta Blaze became the ninth MLL team in 2016.[19] The Rattlers relocated [again] from Rochester, New York in 2018 to Dallas, Texas and began play as the Dallas Rattlers in 2018.

LXM Pro Tour

In late 2009, Kyle Harrison, Scott Hochstadt, Craig Hochstadt, Xander Ritz, and Max Ritz formed the LXM Pro Tour.[20] The tour would feature two teams playing games across the country at special events involving the LXM Pro game and youth activities. The tour competed for players with the MLL as the more established league would not let players under contract play in other professional lacrosse events.

The rival leagues were in large part an outgrowth of the competition between lacrosse equipment manufacturers Warrior, which was owned by an MLL league founder, and STX. LXM Pro held 23 events from 2010 to January 2014.

On February 13, 2014, MLL announced a partnership with the LXM Pro Tour, a week after the league announced a new equipment deal with STX, a sponsor of one of the LXM Pro teams. The deal moved LXM to the MLL off-season and allowed players to participate in both MLL and LXM.[21] However, LXM Pro didn't hold any tour stops after the announcement.

Rules

MLL rules are based on NCAA rules with various changes. The most significant are a two-point goal line 16 yards (15 m) from each goal, a 60-second shot clock, the elimination of the restraining box, and allowing dive shots. The shot clock was originally 45 seconds before it was changed to 60 seconds for the 2005 season. From the inception of the league to 2008 there was a limit of three long-stick defensemen per team in order to promote scoring. Beginning in 2009, the league conformed to high school and college lacrosse rules and now allows four long-sticks per team on the field at any one time. 19 players dress for each regular season game.[22][23]

Teams

Current teams

Former teams

Team City Joined Folded Notes
Philadelphia Barrage Philadelphia, PA 2001 2008 Originally Bridgeport Barrage, 2001-2003; played final season as a traveling team.
New Jersey Pride Piscataway, NJ 2001 2008 Also played in Montclair, NJ and Bridgewater, NJ
Los Angeles Riptide Carson, CA 2006 2008
San Francisco Dragons San Francisco, CA 2006 2008 Played final season in San Jose, CA
Chicago Machine Chicago, IL 2006 2010 Played final season as a traveling team
Hamilton Nationals Hamilton, ON 2009 2013 Toronto Nationals 2009-2010

Timeline

Championship games

Season Champion Score Runner-up Venue Location Attendance Game MVP
2001 Long Island Lizards 15-11 Baltimore Bayhawks Kennedy Stadium Bridgeport, CT 6,745 Paul Gait
2002 Baltimore Bayhawks 21-13 Long Island Lizards Columbus Crew Stadium Columbus, OH 5,596 Mark Millon
2003 Long Island Lizards 15-14 (OT) Baltimore Bayhawks Villanova Stadium Villanova, PA 6,593 Kevin Lowe
2004 Philadelphia Barrage 13-11 Boston Cannons Nickerson Field Boston, MA 8,279 Greg Cattrano
2005 Baltimore Bayhawks 15-9 Long Island Lizards Nickerson Field Boston, MA 6,829 Gary Gait
2006 Philadelphia Barrage 23-12 Denver Outlaws The Home Depot Center Carson, CA 5,374 Roy Colsey
2007 Philadelphia Barrage 16-13 Los Angeles Riptide PAETEC Park Rochester, NY 5,288 Matt Striebel
2008 Rochester Rattlers 16-6 Denver Outlaws Harvard Stadium Boston, MA 8,481 Joe Walters
2009 Toronto Nationals 10-9 Denver Outlaws Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium Annapolis, MD 7,003 Merrick Thomson
2010 Chesapeake Bayhawks 13-9 Long Island Lizards Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium Annapolis, MD 6,445 Kyle Hartzell
2011 Boston Cannons 10-9 Hamilton Nationals Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium Annapolis, MD 5,027 Jordan Burke
2012 Chesapeake Bayhawks 16-6 Denver Outlaws Harvard Stadium Boston, MA 7,384 Ben Rubeor
2013 Chesapeake Bayhawks 10-9 Charlotte Hounds PPL Park Chester, PA 3,892 John Grant Jr.
2014 Denver Outlaws 12-11 Rochester Rattlers Fifth Third Bank Stadium Kennesaw, GA 8,149 John Grant Jr.
2015 New York Lizards 15-12 Rochester Rattlers Fifth Third Bank Stadium Kennesaw, GA 8,674 Paul Rabil
2016 Denver Outlaws 19-18 Ohio Machine Fifth Third Bank Stadium Kennesaw, GA 5,522 Eric Law
2017 Ohio Machine 17-12 Denver Outlaws The Ford Center at The Star Frisco, TX 7,543 Marcus Holman
2018 Denver Outlaws 16-12 Dallas Rattlers MUSC Health Stadium Charleston, SC 4,086 Matt Kavanagh

Performance by team

Team Champions Years
Chesapeake Bayhawks 5 2002, 2005, 2010, 2012, 2013
Denver Outlaws 3 2014, 2016, 2018
New York Lizards 3 2001, 2003, 2015
Philadelphia Barrage 3 2004, 2006, 2007
Dallas Rattlers 1 2008
Toronto Nationals 1 2009
Boston Cannons 1 2011
Ohio Machine 1 2017

Italics indicates a defunct team

Attendance

Since 2006, overall league attendance has varied between 3,800 and 6,500 per game, peaking in 2011 and steadily decreasing to an all-time low in 2017. There has always been a great deal of disparity in attendance figures for different teams in the league. Playing at Invesco Field at Mile High, the Denver Outlaws have led the league in attendance all but one year of their existence.[24] A significant portion of Denver's attendance is from one game each year. The Outlaws established a tradition of having a game on the Fourth of July that always attracts the biggest single-game attendance in the league. 31,644 people attended the game and watched fireworks afterward in 2015.[25] The Fourth of July game has regularly attracted around 30,000 people.[26] Outside of this special event game, Denver currently draws about 6,000 per game.

Other top attendance teams – Chesapeake, Boston, and New York – have attracted between 5,000 and 7,000 fans to each game in recent years, while low attendance teams struggle to get 2,000 people into the seats.[1]

Season Teams Average
attendance
High
average
High
Team
Low
average
Low
Team
Ref
2006 10 4,295 11,634 Denver 2,202 Chicago [27]
2007 10 4,429 10,592 Denver 2,243 Chicago [28]
2008 10 4,515 10,853 Denver 1,920 New Jersey [15]
2009 6 5,557 10,127 Denver 2,569 Chicago [29]
2010 6 5,278 10,778 Denver 2,729 Toronto [30]
2011 6 6,417 12,331 Denver 1,214 Hamilton [31]
2012 8 5,609 9,648 Boston 1,838 Hamilton [32]
2013 8 5,069 9,466 Denver 1,991 Rochester [33]
2014 8 4,759 10,383 Denver 1,204 Florida [34]
2015 8 4,384 9,502 Denver 1,187 Rochester [35]
2016 9 4,268 9,390 Denver 1,456 Rochester [36]
2017 9 3,844 9,212 Denver 1,586 Charlotte [1]
2018 9 3,7431 7,758 Denver 1,364 Charlotte [1]

1 - As of August 19, the Florida Launch had not reported the attendance of their July 28 game.

League operations

The league is owned by Major League Lacrosse, LLC, which is controlled by the founders and the nine franchises. The founders - Steinfeld, Morrow, Robertson, and Davis - control five of 14 ownership shares (36%); the nine franchises each have one ownership share (7%).[37] Davis owns two of the nine franchises and has a stake in two others.[11]

Atlanta Blaze owner Peter Trematerra sued Major League Lacrosse, LLC, Commissioner Gross, Jim Davis and several businesses controlled by the founders of the league in April 2017. Trematerra alleged that Gross provided inaccurate information about the profitability of the league in 2014, when Trematerra was considering buying an expansion franchise. The suit also claimed that because the league, some of its major sponsors, and Lax Sports Network were all controlled by the same people and entities, sponsorship and broadcast rights were sold for below market value.[37]

In August 2017, the MLL accidentally exposed the confidential personal information of over 1,000 players, nearly everyone who has ever played in the league or tried out for a team. The information was stored in one excel spreadsheet that was publicly linked on the league's website for a day. It is unknown if any player experienced identity theft as a result of the incident.[38]

League leadership
Name Years Title
Gabby Roe 1999-2002 Executive Director
Matthew Pace 2002-2003 Executive Director
David Gross 2003-2004 Chief Operating Officer
2004-2018[39] Commissioner
Sandy Brown 2018-present[40] Commissioner

Headquarters:

Television coverage

Fox Sports Network broadcast games for the first two seasons, then ESPN2 televised a weekly MLL game from 2003 through 2011.[7] In 2012, ESPN2 televised three regular season games, the All-Star Game, one semifinal, and the MLL Championship game. MLL games have not been regularly shown on ESPN2 since 2012 due to low ratings.[26] Games continue to be streamed on ESPN3. CBS Sports Network has televised all-star games and the playoffs since 2013. MLL did not receive any money from these networks for these deals.[41]

In 2017, the Lax Sports Network was given exclusive rights to all 63 regular season games.[11][42] Twitter streamed the semifinal games and CBS Sports Network broadcast the final.[43][44]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d "League Attendance". Pointstreak.com. Retrieved .
  2. ^ Garcia, Ahiza (September 28, 2015). "The pro athletes with full-time day jobs". CNN Money.
  3. ^ "Lacrosse Doesn't Pay the Rent". The Wall Street Journal. May 31, 2012. Retrieved 2013.
  4. ^ Garno, Greg (August 16, 2014). "Exhausting travel and no pay: Major League Lacrosse players stick with it". Sporting News.
  5. ^ Gardne, Jr, Ralph. "The Sport of Scholarships". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved .
  6. ^ 2013 MLL Player Handbook, Retrieved June 17, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Barnowski, Nick (May 6, 2009). "Welcome to Major League Lacrosse". Bleacher Report.
  8. ^ Roberts, Daniel (September 18, 2012). "Second Act: Jake Steinfeld and Major League Lacrosse". Fortune. Retrieved 2017.
  9. ^ a b "About MLL" (Press release). Major League Lacrosse. Retrieved 2017.
  10. ^ Cavanaugh, Jack (June 20, 2001). "Lacrosse: New league has the stars, but also wants the fans". New York Times.
  11. ^ a b c Wagner, Bill (July 19, 2017). "Bayhawks owner likes team, future of MLL". Capital Gazette. Retrieved 2017.
  12. ^ Zeigler, Cyd (June 18, 2006). "Andrew Goldstein Openly Tending Goal For Major League Lacrosse". Outsports. Retrieved 2017.
  13. ^ "Andrew Goldstein - MLL". Pointstreak.com. Retrieved 2017.
  14. ^ Shore, Phil (July 6, 2017). "As MLL heads to California, Remembering the Riptide years". USLacrosse Magazine.
  15. ^ a b "League Attendance". Pointstreak.com. Retrieved 2017.
  16. ^ Foy, Terry (November 23, 2010). "Sources: Machine Franchise Moving to Rochester". Inside Lacrosse. Retrieved 2017.
  17. ^ "Major League Lacrosse - attendance". Pointstreak.com. Retrieved 2017.
  18. ^ "Florida Launch Set For 2014 MLL Debut; Hamilton Nationals Not Competing in '14". Inside Lacrosse. November 21, 2013. Retrieved 2017.
  19. ^ Kinnear, Matt (August 7, 2015). "Atlanta Blaze Introduced as MLL Expansion Team For 2016". Inside Lacrosse. Retrieved 2017.
  20. ^ The Ritz brothers, brothers Scott and Craig Hochstadt and Kyle Harrison are the co-founders of LXM Pro.
  21. ^ Kinnear, Matt (February 13, 2014). "MLL, LXM PRO Form Partnership; Players Can Play Both Leagues". Inside Lacrosse. Retrieved 2017.
  22. ^ "MLL Rules". Major League Lacrosse. Retrieved 2017.
  23. ^ "League announces expansion of rosters to 19 and addition of fourth long pole for 2009". Inside Lacrosse. October 22, 2008. Archived from the original on October 25, 2008. Retrieved .
  24. ^ "Major League Lacrosse Sets Regular-Season Attendance Mark". SportsBusiness Daily. August 17, 2011. Retrieved 2017.
  25. ^ "Outlaws Break MLL Attendance Record With Mile High Fourth of July Game". CBS Denver. July 5, 2015. Retrieved 2017.
  26. ^ a b "Devitte: MLL Week Three, The Numbers Game, Franchise Ranks". Inside Lacrosse. 2015-04-28. Retrieved .
  27. ^ "MLL Attendance 2006". Pointstreak.com. Retrieved 2017.
  28. ^ "MLL Attendance 2007". Pointstreak.com. Retrieved 2017.
  29. ^ "MLL Attendance 2009". Pointstreak.com. Retrieved 2017.
  30. ^ "MLL Attendance 2010". Pointstreak.com. Retrieved 2017.
  31. ^ "MLL Attendance 2011". Pointstreak.com. Retrieved 2017.
  32. ^ "MLL Attendance Down 12.6% From Record-Setting Figure Last Season". SportsBusiness Daily. August 16, 2012. Retrieved 2017.
  33. ^ "MLL Attendance 2013". Pointstreak.com. Retrieved 2017.
  34. ^ "MLL Attendance 2014". Pointstreak.com. Retrieved 2017.
  35. ^ "MLL Attendance 2015". Pointstreak.com. Retrieved 2017.
  36. ^ "MLL Attendance 2016". Pointstreak.com. Retrieved 2017.
  37. ^ a b Barrister, Eri; Ingemi, Marissa; Jastrzembski, Chris; Nazar, Jake (November 15, 2017). "Atlanta Blaze Owner Peter Trematerra Sued Major League Lacrosse Back In April". College Crosse. SB Nation. Retrieved 2017.
  38. ^ Hohler, Bob (August 29, 2017). "Players rip MLL after data breach exposes private information". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2017.
  39. ^ "David Gross to Step Down as Commissioner After 2017 Season" (Press release). Major League Lacrosse. 2016-12-23. Retrieved .
  40. ^ Alexander P Brown Named Commissioner of MLL
  41. ^ "Major League Lacrosse Commissioner Says Pro Ultimate Has A College Problem". Ultiworld. 2012-11-28. Retrieved .
  42. ^ "Watch MLL Games" (Press release). Major League Lacrosse. Retrieved 2017.
  43. ^ "2017 MLL Playoffs" (Press release). Major League Lacrosse. Retrieved 2017.
  44. ^ "2017 MLL Championship Game" (Press release). Major League Lacrosse. Retrieved 2017.

External links


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