On October 23, the Premier Lacrosse League announced the addition of a seventh team for the 2020 season in only their second year of existence. This news came one day after the 1 year anniversary of the launch of the PLL.
We started with six original lacrosse clubs.
In 2020, we’ll be adding a 7th. pic.twitter.com/TAREPIQ5Ps
— Premier Lacrosse League (@PremierLacrosse) October 24, 2019
Professional lacrosse has expanded dozens of times before so what makes this announcement different?
There are dangers that come with expansion in pro lacrosse as teams in the NLL and MLL have relocated and folded many times throughout the existence of both leagues. The costs associated with running a pro lacrosse team aren’t on the level of the other big four sports, but they are high enough to make owning and operating one a risky venture.
The difference with the PLL’s expansion is the intense support they have already gotten from fans in only the first year of the league. There will be a fanbase for this new team immediately. The announcement was even featured on major news outlets all over the country. The PLL definitely seems to be in a good spot in only their second year and if they weren’t ready or comfortable with expanding then they wouldn’t have done it.
The impact of this seventh team is huge. With a seventh team there will be more games, less bye weeks, more sponsorships, and more roster spots. Being able to play games in more cities will be huge for the league so that they can reach their fanbases in different parts of the country. The PLL did an incredible job with fan interaction at their events, but with limited locations some fans may have only been able to attend one weekend of games in person.
There are now 6 MLL teams, 7 PLL teams, 13 NLL teams, and also 5 teams in the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League. 31 total pro lacrosse teams with an average of 23 active and practice players on a roster is about 700 players. 700 people playing lacrosse and getting paid to do it. The salaries are getting closer to a full-time wage and lacrosse is heading in the right direction.
Announcing that the league would be adding another team on Barstool Sports’ Pardon My Take podcast was an important move by the PLL regardless of your opinion of Barstool.
Pardon My Take is one of the most listened to sports podcasts in the world. This was definitely the largest audience a lacrosse announcement like this has been made to with hundreds of thousands of people listening to PMT on a weekly basis. PMT also has 60,000 subscribers on YouTube, 450,000 followers on Twitter, and 490,000 followers on Instagram. Being able to reach that many people brings more positive attention to the league and to lacrosse.
The most talked about part of this announcement has actually been the debate about naming the new team. Paul Rabil and the PMT crew kicked it off with some interesting names like Fire Salamanders, Grit, Stones, and Bolts, but the best prospective names have come from the drawings and designs being sent in by fans that are being posted on the PLL Twitter and Instagram accounts.
— Jackson Hallman (@jhallman23) October 29, 2019
Lacrosse is built off of creativity and the PLL has helped bring out the creative nature of the lacrosse community by letting them be a part of the naming process. On the field, every lacrosse player is an artist as they use their stick to score in innovative ways, create turnovers with unsuspecting check, make deceptive passes, and constantly come up with new ways to play the game.
The PLL has already done a great job of creating unique team names with the Whipsnakes, Redwoods, Chrome, Archers, Atlas, and Chaos so I have no worries that they will pick another good one from the dozens and dozens of choices.
Adding a seventh team is a big step, but pro lacrosse still has a long way to go. I’m looking forward to even more expansion in the next decade. When the NLL, MLL, or PLL announce they are expanding to 20 or more teams that will be an incredible moment for pro lacrosse.