National Lacrosse League forms SUM-like arm
The National Lacrosse League has formed a new marketing arm called Global Lacrosse Marketing as Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz looks to drive revenue and increase the league’s relevance.
Sakiewicz, a former MLS executive, has been eyeing such a venture for around a year, looking to mirror what MLS has done with Soccer United Marketing.
The venture comes as the 11-team NLL also plots its next expansion, with three new teams in the works for the indoor league to take it to 14 teams.
Sakiewicz said the NLL’s board of directors will meet in October on Global Lacrosse Marketing before it is formally rolled out by the end of the year.
“In terms of dollars, I don’t think it’s as big an opportunity as Soccer United Marketing, because obviously the sport of soccer is bigger and more mature than lacrosse,” Sakiewicz said. “But it’s a big opportunity. I’m hesitant to throw a number out there [in terms of a valuation of GLM], but we think GLM is similar to SUM in that it will accelerate the growth of the sport commercially.”
The plan is to make GLM a one-stop shop for consumer brands and business-to-business companies looking to make a play in the sport. Sakiewicz confirmed that NLL assets will be sold by GLM, and hopes after the company formally launches it will land other partners that GLM could represent. Potential partners could include Major League Lacrosse, U.S. Lacrosse as well as possibly college and foreign lacrosse programs.
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The league has a new media rights deal with Turner Sports’ Bleacher Report Live, and GLM will handle the NLL’s media rights and partnership sales in conjunction with Turner. Advertising assets from that new over-the-top service also will be included.
“Is it a billion-dollar idea like SUM? I don’t think so — or not at least in my lifetime,” Sakiewicz said. “But is it a $100 million idea? It could be.”
Sakiewicz said he will serve as president for the company, which will be based in New York City and make several new hires at launch.
Meanwhile, Sakiewicz remains busy trying to transform the indoor lacrosse league, which plays its season in the winter and spring and has been around since the mid-1980s.
The league has signed up three new — yet undisclosed — expansion franchises to be unveiled later this year, additions that will take the NLL to 14 teams. Sakiewicz said that after the league reaches 14, it will then only add one further team until 2022.
A source said that the 10th and 11th teams that joined the NLL paid around a $3 million expansion fee, and that the 12th, 13th and 14th teams are paying more than $5 million.
Sakiewicz said the new ownership groups will include NBA and NHL team operators. The league has added multiple investors who fit that description over the last year, including Brooklyn Nets minority partner Joe Tsai buying the league’s expansion franchise in San Diego and Canucks Sports & Entertainment taking over the NLL’s franchise in Vancouver.
The league also recently added a franchise in Philadelphia, where it’s now based and will soon open a new downtown headquarters.
“The reaction to the strategic business plan that we laid out 24 months ago and brought to the marketplace has been very well received,” Sakiewicz said. “It’s an exciting time to be in lacrosse; we think the sports landscape continues to shift in our favor.”