The Dallas Rattlers ownership has been transferred back to Major League Lacrosse on Wednesday, according to the MLL.
Read the full statement from the league below:
Major League Lacrosse announced today that it has transitioned ownership of the Dallas Rattlers, LLC from New Balance, Inc. back to the league. This move was contemplated as part of the league restructuring that occurred earlier this year. The league will continue to operate the team and is currently in discussion with new ownership candidates. This transition is not an unprecedented event, for the league has previously operated franchises under the same construct. The league looks forward to the Dallas Rattlers competing for an MLL Championship in 2020.
Major League Lacrosse just concluded a successful 2019 season with the Chesapeake Bayhawks defeating the Denver Outlaws in the MLL Championship game 10-9.
MLL commissioner Sandy Brown told US Lacrosse Magazine that “we’re not shutting this team down,” Brown said. “Everything is in place. The team is in existence and we expect will compete in the 2020 season.”
Sandy Brown also told the publication that “we are having conversations with owners in market,” Brown said. “We’d like to see the franchise stay there. There’s a great appetite for our sport in Dallas and that part of the country. They were in the championship game last year. They made a good run this year. It’s important for MLL to have a team there and for the game to have a team there.”
That’s all that can be confirmed at this point.
There were rumors floating around that a new team ownership would be voted on at the league meetings on Thursday, however, this has yet to be confirmed by the league.
The prior Dallas Rattlers’ owner, Jim Davis, who also owned the Ohio Machine, Charlotte Hounds and Florida Launch franchises — which folded unexpectedly earlier this year during the preseason, requiring a reassignment draft to be held for the 2019 MLL Collegiate Draft selections — has officially given up all ownership with regards to Major League Lacrosse.
Davis, who is reportedly worth $6.7 billion according to Forbes, made a major investment in the league years ago by having ownership in his aforementioned previously-owned franchises that “threw a lifeline to Major League Lacrosse,” according to the Capital Gazette.
That kind of money is a huge loss for the league.
While no names have been released as to who might be named the new owner of the franchise, it has been suggested in the previously-cited article by the Capital Gazette that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had expressed interest in owning an MLL franchise at the time of the article’s publishing in 2017.. That may not accurately reflect Jones’ current feelings towards MLL franchise ownership. However, should Jones decide to make an investment in the league, it would be a major step in the right direction for the MLL in what has been a series of unexpected and unfortunate events for the 20-year old league. The Dallas Rattlers also played their home games at The Star in Frisco, Texas, which is the Dallas Cowboys practice facility. As Sandy Brown mentioned in his previous statement to US Lacrosse Magazine, the league was having conversations with current sports franchise owners in the Dallas market. Jerry Jones would likely be a candidate that they would approach.
Of course, that is all speculation. And, in the spirit of continuing this article’s speculation, it should be noted that Jim Davis is the current owner of New Balance. The sports equipment company has placed an emphasis on the lacrosse market in recent years. They also made headlines this year when New Balance cut sponsorship ties with Premier Lacrosse League co-founder Paul Rabil for violating terms of his sponsorship agreement — namely, wearing competitors gear during competition. Adidas was the official uniform supplier of the PLL, which meant Rabil was obligated to wear their jerseys during PLL games. This was a controversial move as normally a league obligation wouldn’t cause a sponsor to terminate a contract with a player.
New Balance also owns Warrior Lacrosse, the lacrosse equipment manufacturing and sales company. Will Davis get out of the lacrosse industry completely now that he has left ownership of four MLL franchises, including the Dallas Rattlers? Or, are those two completely unrelated issues?
Again, this is all speculation. None of this information has been confirmed one way or another except for the league statement and what MLL commissioner Sandy Brown has told the media. I simply am trying to provide context.
At any rate, it will be worth keeping a close eye on what is to come for the lacrosse world, specifically Major League Lacrosse.