Major League Lacrosse, the premier professional outdoor lacrosse league (MLL), and ELEV|8 Sports Institute, announced today that the Hamilton Nationals home game against the Rochester Rattlers will be played at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Fla. on Saturday, June 22, at 7:30 p.m.
Since we’re always interested in hearing more about the growth of the pro game, lacrosse in Florida, and future MLL expansion, we sat down with Tony Lowe, of ELEV|8 Sports Institute, to learn more about this upcoming event.
LAS: How long have you personally been in Florida? What have you seen from the community that makes the area ready for a pro team?
I’ve been in Florida for 9 years now. We’ve seen a ton of growth down here. The South Florida Youth Lacrosse League has tripled their enrollment since 2003. The reason why a pro team will be successful is the passion of the fan base. At the All-Star game last year all the players were impressed by how loud and lively the crowd was.
If an MLL team did come to South Florida, do you think more pros would consider moving to the area? What could that do for the local lacrosse scene? And what is the biggest thing holding back the growth of the game in your area?
We already have a bunch of pro players living down here and I think more would relocate if we have a franchise. Having more pros down here would help both the franchise and the youth, middle school and high school teams. The only thing slowing down the growth of the game in Florida is not having enough qualified coaches.
Describe an ideal game night in Florida for a pro lacrosse team. Go!
An ideal night for a game in Florida would probably start during the day with a great youth tournament. We have a great set-up for tailgating and a perfect area for a fanzine. Most summer nights in florida are 70 degrees and you can see the atlantic ocean from FAU stadium. After a win it would be a great venue for a fireworks display.
Now that the announcement has been made for the regular season game, what’s the local buzz like? I know it’s early, but what kind of crowd can we expect?
My phone hasn’t stopped ringing all day. Everyone enjoyed their experience last year and wants to come back. We had 42 teams last year come to our MLL Experience tournament. We already have 50 committed for this year. We will probably have between 80-100 teams and we expanded to girls as well.
Think any “local Florida products” could be playing in the game? When do you think we will start to see a lot of florida born players in the MLL?
Unfortunately, not in this game. We did have our first 2 homegrown players drafted into the MLL this year. Jesse Bernhardt was drafted 4th overall by the Bayhawks. He’s originally from the Orlando area. Lee Coppersmith grew up a mile from FAU stadium, and he was drafted 22nd overall by Boston.
Any final thoughts on the game?
We’re really excited for this game as its kind of a final test to see if we can support an MLL franchise. My company Elev8 Sports Institute would love nothing more than to make MLL games in Florida a reality instead of a special event.
Last year’s All-Star game really did seem like an incredible experience. Maybe we’ll have to make our way down there this year ourselves! For more info on the game, see the press release below:
Boston, Mass. (Feb. 22, 2013) – Major League Lacrosse, the premier professional outdoor lacrosse league (MLL), and ELEV|8 Sports Institute, announced today that the Hamilton Nationals home game against the Rochester Rattlers will be played at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Fla. on Saturday, June 22, at 7:30 p.m.
MLL returns to Palm Beach County for the second consecutive year, after a successful All Star Game in 2012.
“We had a very successful All Star Game at FAU in 2012,” said Major League Lacrosse Commissioner David Gross. “We wanted to return to Boca Raton with a regular season game to showcase some of the best MLL has to offer as we contemplate future expansion.”
The event is spearheaded by ELEV|8 Sports Institute, a multi-sport training center offering several programs including a residential nine month academy program, professional athlete training, high intensity training camps, and other customized training opportunities.
“Last year was a big step towards getting an expansion franchise in the South Florida area. We have been working hard in the 6 months since then to make it a reality,” stated Elev8 Director of Lacrosse Tony Lowe. “Our goal is to grow the game and nothing would be bigger for our sport then to have a pro team in the hotbed of South Florida.”
The event is supported by the Palm Beach Sports Commission, a not-for-profit organization contracted by Palm Beach County to promote and market the county as a sports and sports tourism destination.
“FAU is a state-of-the-art facility and a venue unlike any that Palm Beach County has ever had. We’re thrilled that last year’s game led to another game this year and will ignite potential for many more MLL events in the
future.” said George Linley, executive director of Palm Beach County Sports Commission.
ELEV|8 will also be holding a two-day youth tournament over the weekend. The jamboree style tournament will take place on Saturday, June 22 and Sunday June 23 at fields surrounding the FAU Stadium.
Tickets for the event will go on sale March 1 and can be found by visiting MLLFla.com. Prices range from $15 to $50 with a limited number of VIP packages available for on-field seating, suites or party bays.
About ELEV|8 Sports Institute
ELEV|8 Sports Institute is a multi-sport training center offering a multitude of programs including a residential nine month academy program, professional athlete training, high intensity training camps, and other customized training opportunities. ELEV|8 Sports Institute is a destination for athletes around the world to come to and improve their level of play offering sport specific training in basketball, baseball, lacrosse, and performance training. With the mission of ‘Training Excellence’ ELEV|8 is positioned to become a leader in the athlete training industry. For additional information please visit www.ELEV8SI.com.