Premier Lacrosse League Preps To Enter Bubble For Its Season
The Premier Lacrosse League this weekend will be the next sports property to start a fan-less "bubble" tournament to complete its '20 season, and it has made changes and additions to its product to pull it off. The tournament will be held over three weeks at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah, with the event called the PLL Championship Series Powered by Ticketmaster. NBC Sports will air the tournament across NBC, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold. The PLL originally planned to hold 15 events across the country for its sophomore campaign, but had to dial that back after the coronavirus pandemic started. To pull the tournament off, PLL co-Founder Paul Rabil said that the league has done everything from add new fan elements to the stadium and broadcast to restructuring sponsor agreements. That is in addition to a coronavirus testing protocol that will involve multiple rounds during the course of the tournament. The PLL is using the same Utah-based lab that MLB is. Players will be subject to a quarantine period and saliva-based test at their houses. Then, everyone who has a negative test will be allowed to go to Utah; the league is chartering a plane for East Coast-based players, and players on the West Coast are mostly driving there. The PLL will compartmentalize everyone on site -- from execs and broadcasters to players -- into 17 different groups who are only to interact within their respective clusters. There will be a second test upon arrival, a third test five days later at the end of training camp, and a fourth test at the end of the tournament before people return home.
FOLLOWING THE NWSL'S PATH: The NWSL has been playing its tournament in Utah, as well, including at Zions Bank Stadium -- and Rabil said that he has been in touch with execs from the women's soccer league and has been able to take some key learnings from their earlier experiences. That includes making sure participants strictly keep to their schedule for not just practices but also dining, as Rabil said the NWSL told him that teams wanting to practice a bit longer than scheduled can lead to situations where different clusters end up congregating together when they were not supposed to.
MORE TO LOOK FORWARD TO: On the sponsor front, the PLL extended the terms of some sponsors' deals since the season has now turned from 15 fan-filled events across the country to a multiple-week tournament with no spectators. The PLL has added several new partners recently, including Chipotle and Progressive, and other partners include Gatorade, Adidas and Capital One. Meanwhile, the league took an idea from the German Bundesliga to have people send in photos of themselves to have a cardboard cutout placed in the stands. It is also working with Washington-based social media aggregation and display outfit Tagboard to have call-to-actions during the broadcast that will allow fans to show up on screens at the stadium.