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Three BIG NLL Changes That Need To Happen

With a new commissioner in the NLL comes new direction. There is really no better time than now to look at three BIG NLL changes the league needs to make!

With a new commissioner in the NLL comes new direction, so there is really no better time than now to look at three BIG NLL changes that the league needs to make. Will Nick Sakiewicz be able to turn the NLL ship around, find a new direction, and ultimately success? It’s a tough road to take, but he just might have the right stuff, and be able to get it done.

While the National Lacrosse League is still around, and enjoys a certain amount of renown, it is still small potatoes when compared to other major sporting leagues in North America. How can the NLL make three big changes to immediately improve their operations in the near future, and possibly beyond?

1) Put a franchise back in Philadelphia, and make it heavily American-based.

This is almost a two for one project, but it needs to happen. Not only is there a ton of history in Philly, but there is also a local fan base, and local talent. This would give the league 10 teams, and whether the team plays in the Wells Fargo Center or a smaller arena, it could work. Sure, you’d have 6 teams in the East, but if that’s where the interest is, so be it!

usa box lacrosse

Also, make this team an American franchise, with American coaches and mostly American players. Use it to pull in American fans. Make Tony Resch the head coach and call it Team USA Junior. I don’t care about the details all that much, just make it happen! The fans in Philly will love you for it, and if the league controls the franchise, you can make sure Americans are playing the game. The league badly needs to expand into the US market in the coming years, and if guys like Marcus Holman, Garrett Thul, and Drew Snider are given a shot, they can make the adjustment to box. I’m a believer in those guys, and there are plenty more like them, for sure!

For those who say it can’t be done… I don’t agree. The Wings were a heavy American team for decades, the Titans were in NY and Orlando and so were the Saints out on Long Island. Heck, the NEBW have a ton of Americans relative to other NLL teams and they’re doing pretty well! It can work, not because I say so, but because it can according to the evidence.

I was at the last NLL home opener in Philly, and it was awesome. Not because it was the last home opener for the Wings, just because it was box lacrosse in Philly.

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NLL needs to make a come back there.

2) Move the league office out of NYC.

I know, NYC is big time, and it’s the city that never sleeps, but it’s also where big fish go to become medium fish again, and where small fish get gobbled up in mass numbers by giant fish, and trawlers. It’s expensive. It’s competitive. You need a $2300 suit just to get a a table. Lacrosse is still a little to interest word around here. And you’re NEVER getting the same city-sponsored real estate deal that Major League Baseball got. Not with De Blasio in office. And because the NLL is so small compared to MLB. Find a city where you can be a bigger fish, at least for now, and maybe consider a city with strong box interest… like say, Philadelphia?!?!?! Imagine the league running a franchise in the same city as their main office…


Georgia Swarm at Calgary Roughnecks - NLL Game of the Week big nll changes

Some people may point to NYC as an NLL option, but both MSG and The Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn command TOP level rents. If they aren’t occupied by the Knicks, Rangers, Nets, or Islanders they will be occupied by Jay-Z or Billy Joel. Right now the NLL can’t compete with that. Concerts in NYC arenas do really well, even in the winter.

I do like the idea of an NLL team in the Nassau Coliseum though! Long Island box… needs to be a thing again! Bring back the Saints! And fix up that arena! Please, do a good job fixing that arena. Make it old school, and simple, but make it clean. And add more bathrooms. Dear lord, add more bathrooms.

The new NLL commissioner also has ties in Philly, so maybe he can get a good deal there? It’s worth a shot! MLL has also had success with their offices in Boston, so maybe there is an opportunity there to partner up a bit more? Of course that would require a schedule change… so…

3) Change The GODFORSAKEN Schedule!

The NLL is unlikely to change to my proposed Summer Schedule idea, and I get that, but the current schedule leaves a lot to be desired. It starts in January, after the other winter pro sports, and goes through the Spring, when field lacrosse is king in the US. So pro box either needs to be in the Summer (as I will continue to fruitlessly hope for) OR it needs to start earlier, in late October, and run through early March.

The benefits to either approach are mind-numbingly good!

Colorado Mammoth vs Saskatchewan Rush NLL 2016

If you start in the fall, it’s like other winter sports, and doesn’t get lost as a winter/spring sport. A fall start allows NLL players to also play MLL, which is more money in their pockets, and more players to choose from for both leagues. A fall start also hits on an “open” portion of the lacrosse year, where no other leagues or level play as heavily so fans can also watch and attend games.

A summer start would likely do the same, just in a different way, and would require MLL to start and finish a little earlier. Either way, the two leagues working together makes a lot more sense than the two fighting over a small, half-baked pie of consumers.

Why These Three BIG NLL Changes?

I’m not arguing that these are the ONLY three changes the NLL could make, but I am saying these three changes are realistic, beneficial, and a good step in the right direction.

Moving the league offices lowers costs for sure. There is no doubt there. It also gives the league of running a new franchise in a city where pro box lacrosse could feasibly work. Bringing a team back to Philly is a no brainer, and offers a great chance for immediate expansion success by re-activating a dormant fan base quickly. It also offers opportunity for American fan expansion and more coverage. Finally, moving the schedule around helps players, and cements pro box into a “season”, which could make it more approachable.

I also think some rule changes, tweaks, etc, could help the NLL, but the three big changes I laid out above could do wonders in the short-term, while providing a good foundation for sustainable growth down the line. Will the NLL make any of these changes? Who knows! But if they do, I think the league is potentially on the right path for success.

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