Stadium Journey – NLL vs. MLL: Better Overall Experience

Charlotte is an expansion team with a GREAT stadium!

Editor’s Note: Please welcome Paul Swaney, of, to the world! Paul Swaney is the co-founder of and Stadium Journey Magazine. Their goal is to provide fans with everything they need to know to make the most out of their next live sports experience.

Paul and the guys over at Stadium Journey have seen a TON of places to play, and they know stadiums and the fan experience like few others. Today, Paul and SJ take a look at MLL and NLL stadiums, and which league offers the better overall experience!


There is no doubt that lacrosse is quickly growing in popularity as a professional sport. The fact that there are two “major” pro leagues running almost continuously throughout the year collectively helps to fuel that year-long outlet for fans of the game.

At Stadium Journey, we have been publishing reviews of sports stadiums from around the world since 2009. We have reviewed more than 1,000 different venues, and at the start of 2012, we decided to begin to include reviews from both the MLL and NLL in the scope of our work.

Charlotte is an expansion team with a GREAT stadium!

For the season, we were able to review eight NLL arenas and five of the MLL venues. While the name of the sport (lacrosse!) may be the same in both leagues, the fact that one is offered indoors (box) and one outdoors (field) makes for a vastly different live sports experience. So we wondered, which league provides the better overall experience?

By and large, we found that both leagues provide predominantly above average experiences for fans. Our ratings are based on seven categories that cover the entire list of what makes live sports great (or not so great); food & beverage, the overall atmosphere, the neighborhood in which the stadium is located, the fans, access (like parking and the ability to move around), the return on investment, and the extra unique aspects of a particular stadium.

We use a five-point scale, with 3.0 serving as the “average” point for a rating. Of the 13 lacrosse stadium reviews we’ve done in the NLL and MLL, 11 ranked as above “average.”

Commonly, one would use the average score or the median score to determine which league provides the better live sports experience. In both cases, the NLL prevails with an average venue rating of 3.679 and a median venue rating of 3.714 (the MLL comes in at an average of 3.286 and median score of 3.429).

A lot of the differential may come down to the intimacy of a venue. The NLL plays in arenas that typically also host a hockey and/or basketball team, utilize the lower bowls in most cases, which can provide close seating, and the ability for fans to make for a loud home field advantage.

The MLL often plays in oversized football stadiums, which can lead the fans to feeling less like they are a part of the action.

The complete list of ratings by league is listed below…

NLL Stadium Scores:

1 – Minnesota Swarm: Xcel Energy Center, 4.286
2 – Buffalo Bandits: First Niagara Center, 4.143
3 – Philadelphia Wings: Wells Fargo Center, 3.857
4 – Toronto Rock: Air Canada Centre, 3.714
5 – Colorado Mammoth: Pepsi Center, 3.714
6 – Calgary Roughnecks: Scotiabank Saddledome, 3.429
7 – Rochester Knighthawks: Blue Cross Arena, 3.143
8 – Edmonton Rush: Rexall Place, 3.143

MLL Stadium Scores:

1 – Ohio Machine:  Selby Stadium, 3.857
2 – Charlotte Hounds: American Legion Memorial Stadium, 3.714
3 – Rochester Rattlers: Sahlen’s Stadium, 3.429
4 – Denver Outlaws: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, 2.857
5 – Hamilton Nationals: Les Prince Field at Ron Joyce Stadium, 2.571

For those of you who have seen both NLL and MLL games live, which do you prefer and why? Please share your comments below!