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Ryan Small, December 17 2018

Welcome back to Long Island, NLL!

In an exciting move for the NLL, the league announced an expansion with the creation of a new and so far unnamed Long Island team. This is great for the league and a good market to expand into. 

The NLL has tried to sustain Long Island / NY teams in the past with the former Saints and Titans, but hasn’t found success. The Titans only lasted three years and jumped around from arena to arena in the NY/NJ area, which didn’t allow them to establish a home so ultimately didn’t work well. Establishing the new Long Island team with a home at the Nassau Coliseum is a smart move. 

Lacrosse is prominent on Long Island, so it’s surprising that teams established there have failed in the past.  It’s not as risky as having a New York City team that would play in Madison Square Garden, with the city’s roster of teams already pretty full. Long Island isn’t too big of a market where the team would get lost, but is big enough to attract a significant following. 

The fact remains though, that this hasn’t worked in the past. I’m not sure what the Saints franchise’s attendance was many years ago, but it seems that they were doing pretty well until they weren’t around any more.  With box lacrosse not being an American form of the sport, some of the indoor teams have also tended to struggle in traditional hotbeds. The Baltimore Bullets and Washington D.C. Power are two teams who have met this fate. After a lull with no team in D.C., the city tried to restart with the Power, as NY tried with the Titans. Both teams had some of the best players, but seats remained empty. For whatever reason in these U.S. lacrosse hotbeds, indoor teams tend to struggle. I think it’s because people from these cities tend to be traditionalists. With box lacrosse not being the traditional form of the sport for the US, teams have come and gone with limited success. 

I have a feeling that this time around could be better for the new Long Island team. The youth of the sport are embracing box lacrosse much more now than in the past. Box lacrosse players are also seriously kicking ass in the outdoor college game, breaking scoring records left and right.  With a form of the sport that facilitates more action and better goal scorers, the associated level of excitement will only serve to fill seats. 

The NLL expansion to include four new teams since August 2017 is awesome. I personally think that box lacrosse is a more exciting version of the sport and believe it’s easier for this league to have success than the outdoor leagues for two reasons. 

First, there’s nationally built infrastructure. Playing in minor league hockey or NHL arenas is easy and provides a venue that isn’t too large or small. Second, the sport is simpler- easier to understand. It’s similar to attending a hockey game without knowing anything about the sport- the game is simple enough and the atmosphere is so exciting that you don’t have to have an intimate knowledge of the rules to have a good time. I think outdoor lacrosse has a hard time creating an enticing atmosphere, whereas indoor lacrosse can create excitement similar to a hockey game. The sports have similar numbers of players, goal sizes, and cross-checking rules, which people love. So why shouldn’t indoor lacrosse have success? 

At the end of the day, I feel it’s a better, more natural fit for the American market. The rules aren’t as complicated and can provide for an enjoyable experience without having to have an in-depth understanding of lacrosse. It’s an easier sell in our society, where many of the most successful products and services are founded in simplicity. 

I think this move to expand to New York is a smart one, and it’s the right time to do it. The influence of box lacrosse is stronger than ever. I really hope it sticks, because in Long Island of all places with the popularity of the game you’d hope the locals would support a professional team. Good luck to the team and look out, Long Island!

Written by

Ryan Small

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