Editor’s Note: Welcome to our new Summer Series of posts, If I Owned An MLL Team, where different people will create a hypothetical franchise in Major League Lacrosse. Some posts will cover one aspect of creating a franchise, while others will lay out the full plan in one fell swoop.
If you have ideas for future areas of conversation, want to submit your own hypothetical team, or just want to comment on this particular area of creating a team, then hit us up in the comments section. We’re interested to hear what you have to say!
The first post in the Series comes from Connor Wilson, and it covers the most basic elements of an imaginary team: Location, and the Team Name!
I’d love to name my hypothetical MLL team The Sharks With Lazers On Their Heads, no matter where I might locate my franchise, but I just don’t think that is going to fly with the league office. So if I can’t go crazy, I want to go classic. Before I can come up with a team name, and in order to make an informed decision, I’ll need to pick a location for my imaginary MLL squad.
With the exception of Denver, every MLL franchise is really an East Coast team. Even Ohio fits this description as it’s only one state away from the Atlantic Ocean, and I am an East Coast guy. I like it out West, but I’m not sure I’m ready to move there yet. In fact, I’m not sure I’m ready to move at all, which is great, because I’m going to put my MLL team in Brooklyn, New York.
First of all, I love it here, and there are a ton of great lacrosse players in and around New York City. Right now there are at least three different men’s club teams using some variation of the name Brooklyn Lacrosse. When you expand the reach to the rest of the City, New Jersey, Westchester, Fairfield County, and western Nassau County, the numbers become staggering.
Two potential problems arise immediately with this location, and those are 1) the proposed team’s proximity to the Long Island Lizards, and 2) the concerns over prohibitive NYC costs getting in the way.
The first issue really is not an issue when you look a little closer. I went to the Long Island game on Friday night and I can tell you there were NOT a lot of City people there. It was a LI event for a LI crowd. I am not worried about pulling them in to the City, because they have lacrosse right there. And I’m not worried about losing NYC fans or players to Long Island either, because like I said, it’s a LI thing out there, and it’s different, sustainable all on its own.
In fact, I think the proximity to Long Island would be a good thing, and create a fantastic and immediate rivalry. It’s the City vs. the Suburbs, hipsters and bankers teaming up to take on the classic LI lax bros. Heck, the story lines write themselves. Plus that’s a couple games where both teams don’t have to fly anyone anywhere, or pay for hotel rooms. Cha-ching!
That brings us to the concern over prohibitive costs nicely. This is a real issue. No doubt about it. NYC, even Brooklyn, is expensive. If you don’t have a great location set up for games, you won’t get the fans, and you’ll still pay through the nose for it. Finding the right set up, and creating a relationship with the City of New York is therefore your skeleton key to success.
Thankfully, there actually is something in existence to help there. New York City’s Sports Commission is an offshoot of the Mayor’s Office, and this group would have to be instrumental in making professional field lacrosse a reality in NYC.
Want to get a scrimmage or game set up in Central Park to create some buzz? I doubt anyone could make that happen outside of the NYCSC. Maybe the team would play some games at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island between Manhattan and Queens or out on Governor’s Island? The Sports Commission could make it happen in a most excellent way.
But the BEST idea for a Brooklyn franchise would be if the Sports Commission could get the games played in Williamsburg at the turf field in McCarren Park. Add some temporary, elevated bleachers, remove the goal posts (replace them with soccer goals on wheels) and you’re good to go! The place has lights for night games, a fence along the outside, and for food and beverage vendors, the City could rely on street carts and food trucks. It would be like a mini-Summer economy, all thanks to professional lacrosse.
The L train would bring even more people from Manhattan over to see the games in 15 only minutes, and there are a TON of bars and restaurants in the immediate area. There are also large residential condos with balconies overlooking the park. Could you imagine what it would be like to take a game in from there? It would only help real estate values to have a pro lax team playing so close.
The park has also hosted HUGE outdoor concerts in the past, so it has been proven to be able to accommodate tens of thousands of people. So 10,000 lacrosse fans in the area? NO PROBLEM. Bring in a couple of air-conditioned trailers for locker rooms, and it’s a totally manageable start.
If not there, the games could be played at Bushwick Inlet Park. Again, temporary stands would have to be built, but using a City Parks Department field would result in a great showcase for both the fledgling franchise, and the City itself. Down the road, a move to larger facility or the construction of a field (that could then be rented out as well) could be feasible. If all else fails, Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island would be an interesting option, especially if shuttle busses were provided.
Now that the two biggest potential problems have been addressed (if you can think of more, please post them in the comments section!), it’s time to move on the the team name. The Brooklyn ________?
Where do I go with this?
There are lots of options here, and many jump out as tempting and flashy. I could play on Brooklyn’s edgy musical side, and name my squad the Poets or Artists, or even the Brooklyn Bohemians. But that would be a pure commodification of culture, and it would lack in any real authenticity. I could try to name us The Warriors, in homage to the cult classic movie, which bears the same name, but I’d like to avoid gang connotations if at all possible. It’s simply not the message I’d want to send.
No, I’m not naming the team The Hipsters, The Yuppies, The Bankers, or anything like that. I want to have fun with it, but not that much fun. This would be a professional sports franchise after all.
The list of potential names goes on and on like this, but it gets me nowhere. Instead, I’m going to look to history for inspiration, because if I want this to work long term (which I would), history has to play a part. Just look at the Boston Cannons. It’s not a great mascot (Boomer is a Cannon), but it plays so nicely to history and tradition in Boston. It makes sense and people embrace it.
Brooklyn, or Breukelen, as the Dutch used to call it, has a long history of its own, and the Borough only became a part of NYC through annexation in the late 1890s (Brooklyn’s official colors are blue and gold, but since the Charlotte franchise took those colors, we’ll have to come up with something else. But I’ll save that for a later post). The Borough’s motto is “Eendraght Maeckt Maght,” which is early Dutch for “Unity Makes Strength.”
I can’t think of a truer sentiment when it comes to lacrosse. Unity does make strength. But even if soccer clubs all over the planet use United as their team name, it’s not the most original thing in the world, so I won’t use it either. Plus the name “United” never seems to play in the US. However, “Eendraght Maeckt Maght” would make for a great back panel on the helmet and team motto.
Since I like the concept, the name will change only slightly: the Brooklyn Union LC. To spice things up, ALL members of Unions located in Brooklyn will get access to discounted tickets! And there are a lot of those. The same would be done for public school lacrosse players from across the City. Solid fan base? Check. Sure, we wouldn’t be The Sharks With Lazers On Our Heads, but the Brooklyn Union definitely has a solid ring to it.
Maybe our mascot could be a shark… lasers optional?
In the end, I would not be trying to bring in every New York City lacrosse player or fan, although that would be great. The idea is to create a real Brooklyn team, with a real Brooklyn presence. Our players would be encouraged to live in Brooklyn, and we would pick guys who wanted to be here whenever possible.
I would make a play at the general sporting population of the Borough, and hope to draw on some of the 2.5 million people who live here, whether they know lacrosse or not. Boston supports 4 big sports franchises (and the Cannons) with about 1 million people. I think Brooklyn can handle the Nets and my team if I do it right.
With the Nets moving to Brooklyn soon, the area is ready for a sports revolution. By paying homage to the history of the Borough, I would hope to bring in lifelong residents as fans and supporters. By placing the games in McCarren Park, I would make the games highly accessible via public transportation. By working with the City, and Borough, the franchise would have some time to grow and catch on.
Finding players who want to live in NYC and the surrounding area would be easy. Taking a subway to half of your games instead of hopping on a plane or driving to Hempstead? Guys would be JUMPING at the chance to play for Brooklyn. Well, that and they would also have me as their team owner.
What do you think of my plan for a Brooklyn MLL team? Think you can do better? We’d love to see you try! Email your ideas to [email protected]…
Good submissions will be posted on LaxAllStars throughout the Summer!