MLL Narrows From Nine To Six Teams In Response To New League
MLL will "contract from nine to six teams for its upcoming season," meaning the Charlotte Hounds, Florida Launch and Ohio Machine will not be a part of the '19 campaign when it begins on May 31, according to Terry Lefton in this week's SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL. The three contracted teams are owned by New Balance Chair Jim Davis, the league’s "primary financial backer" since '03. Folding three of Davis’ teams "leaves the league with a one-team-per-owner structure." MLL said that none of the three teams is "permanently shut down." They added that after renovations to Charlotte’s Memorial Stadium, the Hounds "hope to return" in '21 under new ownership. MLL average attendance reached a high of 6,417 in '11 but has "declined each year since, bottoming out at 3,619 last year" (SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/1 issue). In Boston, Marisa Ingemi cites a source as saying that part of the contraction "can be attributed to long-time league sponsor New Balance pulling back before the season." MLL has been undergoing changes "all offseason after several players broke off to form the Premier Lacrosse League, a touring model that brought with it more than 140 of MLL’s best players and got itself a national television deal" (BOSTONHERALD.com, 4/1).
STADIUM STATUS UNCLEAR: In Columbus, Emily Bench notes it is "not clear" what the Machine's folding means for Fortress Obetz, a publicly funded 6,500-seat stadium that opened in '17. The field is "owned by the Village of Obetz." The Crew has used "nearby land in the village for its practice facility for several years, but the team's new owners are planning to move to a new practice facility at Mapfre Stadium" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 4/1).
ON THE FLIP SIDE: MLL announced that it "reacquired all linear, digital and social broadcast media rights." Those rights had been "controlled in large part by LaxSportsNetwork" since '16 (INSIDELACROSSE.com, 4/1).