Major League Lacrosse
|No. of teams||6 (1 on hiatus)|
|Most titles||Chesapeake Bayhawks|
|TV partner(s)||Lax Sports Network|
|Official website||Official website|
|2019 MLL season|
Major League Lacrosse (MLL) is a men's field lacrosse league consisting of seven teams in the United States. The league's inaugural season was in 2001. Teams play 16 regular-season games from late May to late September, with a four-team playoff for the championship trophy, the Steinfeld Trophy. MLL averaged 3,619 spectators per game during the 2017 season, down from a peak of 6,417 in 2011.
As a semi-professional league, MLL players earn annual salaries in the $10,000–$25,000 range. Players and staff generally hold other jobs and the league does not provide health insurance coverage.
- 1 History
- 2 Rules
- 3 Teams
- 4 Championship games
- 5 Attendance
- 6 League operations
- 7 Television coverage
- 8 References
- 9 External links
|2001||6 teams||14 games|
|2012||8 teams||14 games|
|2019||6 teams||16 games|
Major League Lacrosse was founded in 1999 by Jake Steinfeld, Dave Morrow and Tim Robertson. Steinfeld is the creator of the Body By Jake line of exercise equipment and videos. Morrow is a former All-American lacrosse player at Princeton and the president of Warrior Sports. Tim Robertson is the son of televangelist Pat Robertson and the former CEO of The Family Channel.
MLL began regular season play in June 2001 with six teams in the northeastern U.S. split into two divisions. The American Division included teams in Boston, Bridgeport, Connecticut, and on Long Island; the National Division included teams in Baltimore, New Jersey, and Rochester. All teams were owned by the league, which assigned three franchise players to each team before the initial draft.
The MLL played a 14-game regular season its first two years, then the schedule was cut to 12 games. After the first year, the league's playoff format had the top teams in each division advancing to the semifinals, with two wild card playoff spots going to the teams with the next-best records regardless of division.
In 2003, New Balance became a "founding member" and major sponsor of MLL. New Balance founder and CEO, Jim Davis got very involved in the operation of the league, including providing financial support. Davis still owns two franchises, the Dallas Rattlers and Florida Launch, and is a minority owner in the two 2012 expansion teams, the Ohio Machine and Charlotte Hounds.
Four out of the first five championship games were between the Long Island Lizards and the Baltimore Bayhawks. The Lizards won titles in 2001 and 2003, the Bayhawks in 2002 and 2005. The recently relocated Philadelphia Barrage beat the Boston Cannons 13–11 in 2004's final.
In 2005, Andrew Goldstein became the first American male team-sport professional athlete to be openly gay during his playing career. Goldstein played goalie for the Long Island Lizards from 2005 to 2007, although he only appeared in two games in 2006.
Expansion and contraction (2006–2011)
MLL added four teams for the 2006 season, bringing the league's number of teams up to ten. The expansion markets were Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, and San Francisco, extending the league across the country and into top media markets. MLL combined the original six teams into the Eastern Conference and put the new teams into the Western Conference.
The Los Angeles Riptide were owned by the Anschutz Entertainment Group and played its home games at the Home Depot Center. The Denver Broncos' owner Pat Bowlen brought the Denver Outlaws to an NFL stadium, Mile High. The other new franchises were the Chicago Machine and the San Francisco Dragons.
Despite winning championships in 2006 and 2007, Philadelphia didn't attract more than 2,500 fans to their games. So in 2008, the Barrage tested out new markets by playing all of its "home" matches in five other cities: Cary, North Carolina; Hillsboro, Oregon; Irving, Texas; St. Louis; and Virginia Beach. In addition, the Barrage's "home game" against the Cannons was played in Boston.
At the end of the 2008 season, four teams – Los Angeles, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and San Francisco – folded due to financial problems. Several of these teams suffered from poor attendance, San Francisco drew 2,808 per game and only 1,920 in New Jersey. This contraction forced the remaining six teams to form one conference.
The Rochester Rattlers won the 2008 Steinfeld Cup but like the Barrage, struggled at the gate. At the start of the 2009 season, a new ownership group in Toronto bought the rights to the Rochester franchise. The Toronto Nationals inherited the staff and players of the team, but the Rattlers' name and team colors were left in Rochester for the possibility of a future team. That same group of players went on to win another championship in 2009 playing for a different team in a different country.
The Chicago Machine played the entire 2010 season as a traveling team testing expansion markets for the league, before deciding that the franchise would be moving to Rochester and adopting the Rattlers name in 2011.
In 2010, the Bayhawks and Lizards met for the fifth time in the championship game. The Bayhawks prevailed 13–9, almost the same score as when they beat Long Island 15–9 five years earlier. The newly renamed Chesapeake Bayhawks went on to win two more championships in the next three years, in 2012 and 2013. Their five Steinfeld Cup trophies are the most in MLL history.
The league's attendance peaked at 6,417 per game in the 2011 season. The individual franchises had a wide range of local support. Denver lead the league in attendance, drawing 12,331 fans per game in 2011, while the relocated Hamilton Nationals had 1,214 people per game, one-tenth of Denver's attendance.
LXM Pro Tour
In late 2009, Kyle Harrison, Scott Hochstadt, Craig Hochstadt, Xander Ritz, and Max Ritz formed the LXM Pro Tour. The tour would feature two teams playing games across the country at special events involving the LXM Pro game and youth activities. The tour competed for players with the MLL as the more established league would not let players under contract play in other professional lacrosse events.
The rival leagues were in large part an outgrowth of the competition between lacrosse equipment manufacturers Warrior, which was owned by an MLL league founder, and STX. LXM Pro held 23 events from 2010 to January 2014.
On February 13, 2014, MLL announced a partnership with the LXM Pro Tour, a week after the league announced a new equipment deal with STX, a sponsor of one of the LXM Pro teams. The deal moved LXM to the MLL off-season and allowed players to participate in both MLL and LXM. However, LXM Pro didn't hold any tour stops after the announcement.
Southern trend (2012–2018)
During the early years of MLL, the league did not have any teams in the southeast. Then Charlotte and Columbus were approved to host expansion teams in 2012. That year the league grew to eight teams and two more games were added to the schedule for a total of 14, allowing each franchise to play the other teams in the league twice.
In November 2013, the Hamilton Nationals folded and an expansion franchise was awarded to the Florida Launch for 2014 with Hamilton's players. The Atlanta Blaze became the ninth MLL team in 2016. The Rattlers relocated [again] from Rochester, New York in 2018 to Dallas, Texas and began play as the Dallas Rattlers in 2018.
Second contraction (2019 to present)
On April 1, 2019, just two months before the start of the season, the league announced that the Charlotte Hounds, Florida Launch, and Ohio Machine would not be playing in 2019. While the Hounds announced they would be back in 2021 under new ownership in a renovated stadium, the Launch and Machine effectively folded. The announcement would drop the league down to six teams, the fewest number of teams since 2011, and meant all remaining owners only owned one team. Jim Davis, owner of New Balance, owned the Hounds, Launch, and Machine. He now only owns the Dallas Rattlers.
MLL rules are based on NCAA rules with various changes. The most significant are a two-point goal line 16 yards (15 m) from each goal, a 60-second shot clock, the elimination of the restraining box, and allowing dive shots. The shot clock was originally 45 seconds before it was changed to 60 seconds for the 2005 season. From the inception of the league to 2008 there was a limit of three long-stick defensemen per team in order to promote scoring. Beginning in 2009, the league conformed to high school and college lacrosse rules and now allows four long–sticks per team on the field at any one time. 20 players dress for each regular season game.<ref.MLL invests in players</ref>
|Team||City (MSA)||Stadium||Capacity||Joined||Head Coach|
|Atlanta Blaze||Atlanta, GA||Grady Stadium||8,000||2016||Liam Banks|
|Boston Cannons||Quincy, MA (Boston)||Veterans Memorial Stadium||5,000||2001||Sean Quirk|
|Chesapeake Bayhawks||Annapolis, MD (Baltimore)||Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium||34,000||2001||Dave Cottle|
|Dallas Rattlers||Frisco, TX (Dallas)||The Ford Center at The Star||12,000||2018||Bill Warder|
|Denver Outlaws||Denver, CO||Broncos Stadium at Mile High||76,125||2006||Tony Seaman|
|New York Lizards||Hempstead, NY (New York)||James M. Shuart Stadium||11,929||2001||B.J. O'Hara|
|Charlotte Hounds||Charlotte, NC||American Legion Memorial Stadium||17,000||2012||2021||Inactive for 2019 and 2020 seasons|
|Philadelphia Barrage||Philadelphia, PA||2001||2008||Originally Bridgeport Barrage, 2001–2003; played final season as a traveling team.|
|New Jersey Pride||Piscataway, NJ||2001||2008||Also played in Montclair and Bridgewater|
|Los Angeles Riptide||Carson, CA||2006||2008|
|San Francisco Dragons||San Francisco, CA||2006||2008||Played final season in San Jose|
|Chicago Machine||Chicago, IL||2006||2010||Played final season as a traveling team|
|Hamilton Nationals||Hamilton, ON||2009||2013||Toronto Nationals 2009–2010|
|Ohio Machine||Columbus, OH||2012||2019|
|Florida Launch||Miami, FL||2014||2019|
|2001||Long Island Lizards||15–11||Baltimore Bayhawks||Kennedy Stadium||Bridgeport, CT||6,745||Paul Gait|
|2002||Baltimore Bayhawks||21–13||Long Island Lizards||Columbus Crew Stadium||Columbus, OH||5,596||Mark Millon|
|2003||Long Island Lizards||15–14 (OT)||Baltimore Bayhawks||Villanova Stadium||Villanova, PA||6,593||Kevin Lowe|
|2004||Philadelphia Barrage||13–11||Boston Cannons||Nickerson Field||Boston, MA||8,279||Greg Cattrano|
|2005||Baltimore Bayhawks||15–9||Long Island Lizards||Nickerson Field||Boston, MA||6,829||Gary Gait|
|2006||Philadelphia Barrage||23–12||Denver Outlaws||The Home Depot Center||Carson, CA||5,374||Roy Colsey|
|2007||Philadelphia Barrage||16–13||Los Angeles Riptide||PAETEC Park||Rochester, NY||5,288||Matt Striebel|
|2008||Rochester Rattlers||16–6||Denver Outlaws||Harvard Stadium||Boston, MA||8,481||Joe Walters|
|2009||Toronto Nationals||10–9||Denver Outlaws||Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium||Annapolis, MD||7,003||Merrick Thomson|
|2010||Chesapeake Bayhawks||13–9||Long Island Lizards||Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium||Annapolis, MD||6,445||Kyle Hartzell|
|2011||Boston Cannons||10–9||Hamilton Nationals||Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium||Annapolis, MD||5,027||Jordan Burke|
|2012||Chesapeake Bayhawks||16–6||Denver Outlaws||Harvard Stadium||Boston, MA||7,384||Ben Rubeor|
|2013||Chesapeake Bayhawks||10–9||Charlotte Hounds||PPL Park||Chester, PA||3,892||John Grant Jr.|
|2014||Denver Outlaws||12–11||Rochester Rattlers||Fifth Third Bank Stadium||Kennesaw, GA||8,149||John Grant Jr.|
|2015||New York Lizards||15–12||Rochester Rattlers||Fifth Third Bank Stadium||Kennesaw, GA||8,674||Paul Rabil|
|2016||Denver Outlaws||19–18||Ohio Machine||Fifth Third Bank Stadium||Kennesaw, GA||5,522||Eric Law|
|2017||Ohio Machine||17–12||Denver Outlaws||The Ford Center at The Star||Frisco, TX||7,543||Marcus Holman|
|2018||Denver Outlaws||16–12||Dallas Rattlers||MUSC Health Stadium||Charleston, SC||4,086||Matt Kavanagh|
Performance by team
|Chesapeake Bayhawks||5||2002, 2005, 2010, 2012, 2013|
|Denver Outlaws||3||2014, 2016, 2018|
|New York Lizards||3||2001, 2003, 2015|
|Philadelphia Barrage||3||2004, 2006, 2007|
Italics indicates a defunct team
Since 2006, overall league attendance has varied between 3,800 and 6,500 per game, peaking in 2011 and steadily decreasing to an all-time low in 2018. There has always been a great deal of disparity in attendance figures for different teams in the league. Playing at Invesco Field at Mile High, the Denver Outlaws have led the league in attendance all but one year of their existence. A significant portion of Denver's attendance is from one game each year. The Outlaws established a tradition of having a game on the Fourth of July that always attracts the biggest single-game attendance in the league. 31,644 people attended the game and watched fireworks afterward in 2015. The Fourth of July game has regularly attracted over 25,000 people. Outside of this special event game, Denver currently draws about 6,000 per game.
The league is owned by Major League Lacrosse, LLC, which is controlled by the founders and the six franchises. The founders – Steinfeld, Morrow, Robertson, and Davis – control five of 14 ownership shares (36%); the nine franchises each have one ownership share (7%). Davis owns two of the nine franchises and has a stake in two others.
Atlanta Blaze owner Peter Trematerra sued Major League Lacrosse, LLC, Commissioner Gross, Jim Davis and several businesses controlled by the founders of the league in April 2017. Trematerra alleged that Gross provided inaccurate information about the profitability of the league in 2014, when Trematerra was considering buying an expansion franchise. The suit also claimed that because the league, some of its major sponsors, and Lax Sports Network were all controlled by the same people and entities, sponsorship and broadcast rights were sold for below market value.
In August 2017, the MLL accidentally exposed the confidential personal information of over 1,000 players, nearly everyone who has ever played in the league or tried out for a team. The information was stored in one excel spreadsheet that was publicly linked on the league's website for a day. It is unknown if any player experienced identity theft as a result of the incident.
|Gabby Roe||1999–2002||Executive Director|
|Matthew Pace||2002–2003||Executive Director|
|David Gross||2003–2004||Chief Operating Officer|
- East Rutherford, New Jersey (1999–2001)
- Secaucus, New Jersey (2001–2004)
- Boston, Massachusetts (2004–present)
Fox Sports Network broadcast games for the first two seasons, then ESPN2 televised a weekly MLL game from 2003 through 2011. In 2012, ESPN2 televised three regular season games, the All-Star Game, one semifinal, and the MLL Championship game. MLL games have not been regularly shown on ESPN2 since 2012 due to low ratings. Games continue to be streamed on ESPN3. CBS Sports Network has televised all-star games and the playoffs since 2013. MLL did not receive any money from these networks for these deals.
On April 1, 2019, the league announced they had reacquired broadcast rights from Lax Sports Network. It was unclear where each team would broadcast its games, though the Cannons announced on March 28 that NBC Sports Boston would air all 16 of their games.
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- The Ritz brothers, brothers Scott and Craig Hochstadt and Kyle Harrison are the co-founders of LXM Pro.
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- Major League Lacrosse continues strategic plan
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- "MLL Attendance 2006". Pointstreak.com. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
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- "MLL Attendance 2010". Pointstreak.com. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
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- "MLL Attendance Down 12.6% From Record-Setting Figure Last Season". SportsBusiness Daily. August 16, 2012. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
- "MLL Attendance 2013". Pointstreak.com. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
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- Barrister, Eri; Ingemi, Marissa; Jastrzembski, Chris; Nazar, Jake (November 15, 2017). "Atlanta Blaze Owner Peter Trematerra Sued Major League Lacrosse Back In April". College Crosse. SB Nation. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
- Hohler, Bob (August 29, 2017). "Players rip MLL after data breach exposes private information". Boston Globe. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
- "David Gross to Step Down as Commissioner After 2017 Season" (Press release). Major League Lacrosse. 2016-12-23. Retrieved 2017-03-01.
- Alexander P Brown Named Commissioner of MLL
- "Major League Lacrosse Commissioner Says Pro Ultimate Has A College Problem". Ultiworld. 2012-11-28. Retrieved 2013-11-03.
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- MLL reacquires broadcast rights
- NBC Sports Boston to air all Cannons games
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