DC Sports Day

Indoor Lacrosse Eyes DC Amid Record Growth

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No one in the DC metro area needs to be told that lacrosse is booming at the grassroots level, but could that spill over into another team indoors for the winter soon? The National Lacrosse League hopes so.

The league begins its 32nd Season with great expectations, a digital first platform, a young audience and lots of excitement. Also in the list is expansion, and the league has targeted the DC and Baltimore area as one of its key areas for 2018 and beyond? Could this time, with an uptake in business and new leadership be the time indoor lacrosse succeeds in the area, after previous failed attempts in years past? An energetic new leadership group thinks so.

“This will be a landmark year for the league, its partners, its leadership and most importantly its athletes, coaches and fans,” said NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz, now in second year at the NLL in a statement Thursday. “The interest in all we are doing; from our digital first stance to our careful but aggressive expansion plans to our amazing community programs designed to grow the game for all have created buzz around the NLL that hasn’t been seen before, and we are excited to continue to make news in the coming months as pro lacrosse, especially the exciting indoor game, moves to a level never before seen.”

The 2017-18 season will begin on Friday with the defending champion Georgia Swarm visiting the New England Blackwolves, the Toronto Rock visiting the Buffalo Bandits, and the Colorado Mammoth visiting the Vancouver Stealth. On Saturday, the Calgary Roughnecks will visit the Rochester Knighthawks to complete opening weekend. All matches will be shown on NLL TV, the league’s award winning digital platform and CBS Sports Digital, with the Toronto vs. Buffalo matchup featured as the NLL Game of the Week livestreamed on Twitter.

Expansion is already on the horizon for next year, with the San Diego Seals and the Philadelphia Wings (owned by Comcast Spectacor) coming on board, but the league is looking to the Washington/Baltimore corridor, the New York metropolitan area, the San Francisco/San Jose area, and Dallas as what’s next.

As far as business success for the fasted paced indoor game, the league point to the fact that it’s Twitter Game of the Week averaged 344,000 viewers in its inaugural season while its own OTT, NLL TV channel has 25,000 subscribers and a distribution deal with CBS Sports Live was announced this week.

Attendance continues to grow, with preseason attendance this year up almost 20%, with a preseason record crowd of 12,857 in Calgary two weeks ago. The League’s average attendance last year of almost 7,500 per match trailed only that of the NBA and NHL in terms of professional indoor sports – beating out indoor soccer, indoor football and the WNBA. It marked the third straight season of attendance growth, directly relating to a 12% increase in net box office receipts in 2017.

On the money side, the NLL’s revenues grew by an impressive 11% last year. While new business partners have led to a sponsor revenue growth of 295% from 2016 to 2017.

All of which looks like a great growth opportunity for all involved. Now the league has to see if there is an invested, high net worth, building owning group looking to take the Capital District leap.

Mr. Leonsis, are you listening?