SBD/Issue 194/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Boston Globe Examines Growth Of MLL Since Inaugural Season

 
The growth of Major League Lacrosse (MLL) since its inception in ’01 is examined by the BOSTON GLOBE’s Julian Benbow. The league has grown from its six original clubs to 10, and it “intends to add another two teams” in ’08 at $1.5M per franchise. MLL Founder Jake Steinfeld said that San Diego, Seattle, St. Louis, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and Tampa Bay “are among the possibilities.” MLL Commissioner David Gross said that the increase in the value of MLL’s franchises –- this season’s four expansion teams sold for $1M each — “is a better barometer of the league’s progress than profits.” Gross added that the league lost less than $1M last year, and Benbow notes the league lost around $4M in its first season “and the amount has decreased every year since.” Gross: “We’re keeping it in small numbers, manageable numbers.” Gross said MLL is “a league that’s known its limitations from the start and never tried to be anything that it wasn’t. ... All it takes is time to get people exposed to the product and to get on board.”

RIGHT PIECES: Benbow writes, “The key to the next phase of expansion is the same thing that made this year’s expansion so successful: the partners.” The L.A. Riptide is backed by AEG, and the Denver Outlaws are owned by Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen. MLL also has relationships with Anheuser-Busch, New Balance, ESPN and Tommy Hilfiger, who will be designing the uniforms. Steinfeld said of the league’s partners, “They are sports legitimizers.” Gross: “Unless it’s the right partner, we’re not going to do it. There’s no need to rush in two new teams unless we can make those two teams successful” (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/6).

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