The Arena Lacrosse League announced today that they are preparing to launch a new summer Elite indoor league for 2016 with teams slated to be in state of the art venues across the United States as the league aims to become the lead provider of indoor lacrosse (also known as box lacrosse) in the U.S. from the Elite level down to the grassroots.
American players will be front and center when the Arena Lacrosse League plays its first games. The vision of the league is to grow the game in the United States where until recently the lacrosse game of choice has been the field (outdoor) variety which is played by over 700,000 players across the country.
“Many of these field players have been seeking an opportunity to play indoors but with limited guidance and the lack of experienced coaches many field lacrosse organizations have been hesitant to bring the game inside in an actual box lacrosse or indoor setting,” said Arena Lacrosse League President Paul St. John. “There are some groups across the US trying to change this and it’s a slow process, the launch of the Arena Lacrosse League will fast track the growth as each of our group members are experienced box lacrosse players, coaches, and owners, we will teach players the proper techniques to play indoors to complement their field skills, making them better all-around players.”
The other reason growth of the indoor game has been slow is the lack of an upline. St. John added, “Field lacrosse has always had American college programs with offers of scholarships as an incentive, add in the Major Lacrosse League, (an eight team semi-professional outdoor league) and young players seeking the best future opportunities continue to choose the field game.”
“By launching the Arena Lacrosse League where American players will dominate rosters, we have a great opportunity to change Indoor lacrosse in the United States very quickly; each of our Elite teams will have a Junior ALL program for young players who will practice and play in the same state of the art venues as the top level teams, most Junior ALL games will be in a weekend tournament format surrounding the Elite game enticing these young players to watch and learn from the top players in the league, providing these young athletes the ambition to become Arena Lacrosse League players of the future, hence the need of an upline.”
The Arena Lacrosse League will be comprised of many current collegiate players with graduates and non-collegiate players filling out rosters to give the Arena Lacrosse League the “best players available to our league” the chance to play. “When we first started putting this together we thought how do we have the best American lacrosse players in the ALL?” said St. John. “Speaking with some key people the concensus was you have to include current Collegiate players since they are the best conditioned, highly skilled group of players available, add in some pretty talented graduates and non-collegiate players and we can provide our fans with an exciting brand of lacrosse that is built on speed and athleticism with lots of end to end action that usually is very high scoring.”
Players from other countries are eligible to play as well in the Arena Lacrosse League but these players will have to be prepared to move to the city they play in similar to minor hockey leagues like the ECHL, AHL and the SPHL. St. John figures many of the goalie roster spots will be made up of Canadian goalies who will also act as mentors and teachers to American goalies as they develop. St. John did add that each team must have at least one American goalie who will have to play in a minimal amount of minutes during the season to assist with game development.
When asked about cities and teams committed for the 2016 season, St. John had this to say:
We have spoken with many ownership groups of professional sports teams in hockey and other sports. Being a summer league this is a great opportunity for those teams to utilize their existing staff to assist with the lacrosse side of things during the summer months. The Arena Lacrosse League would be a great fit for ownership groups that either own or operate a venue, operating costs are very attainable and we can provide a great summer tenant in venues that are usually looking for content during a normally quiet time of year for indoor activities.
We have lots of interest and to launch the Arena Lacrosse League and our Arena brand we are embarking on a 10 city Showcase Tour this coming summer in cities that have had interested groups, give them a chance to see our product and meet our Executive staff, for the owners that are committed they can launch their season ticket drive, for owners that are sitting on the fence they will have a better idea of our game and if they would like to own a team. We will play a slightly different brand of lacrosse that fans will fall in love with as with our rule changes the game is more end to end action where most players have to play both offense and defense, every fast break opportunity ends up with a scoring change or a nice defensive play and not slowed by constant line changes.
If The Showcase Tour is an indication of where teams will be in 2016 then look for Allentown, Baltimore, Albany, Trenton and Wilkes-Barre to make up the East and Everett, Stockton, Portland, Salt Lake City, and Boise, Idaho to form a west division. St. John agrees with our assessment but added, “We have so many locations for teams, especially with play happening in the summer and venues having availability for key dates that it wouldn’t surprise us by the time we are ready to officially announce our 2016 teams that we could have as many as 16, especially since we can also run our Junior ALL programs in each city.”
Each city of the Showcase Tour will play host to a week-long Elite Combine for potential Arena Lacrosse League players who will be put through an intense ‘training camp’ where they will compete in an skills/scrimmage opening night and then be drafted onto two teams that will go through practices, video sessions, interviews, promos, public appearances, team meetings, game preparation, fitness training and more. At the end of the week these players will display their skills in the Showcase Game in front of fans, coaches and owners.
Explained St. John, “The majority of the players who come to the Elite Combines will be players that will play in the Arena Lacrosse League and what better way to see what it will be like first hand; from living in nice hotels and eating healthy to practicing and playing in front of coaches and owners who will eventually draft you onto their team? Players that do attend are also guaranteed a tryout with an Arena Lacrosse League team if they go undrafted.”
Also part of the Showcase Tour is a five-day Youth Camp and Tournament for players in four age groups U11, U13, U15, U18. Young players will participate in a two and a half day of camp/practices and drafted onto four teams in their age group, they then play in a four game tournament over the final two and a half days. Each team will be capped at 12 players and one goalie so each player gets ample playing time during the tournament.
This model looks and sounds like it can be an instant winner, especially since indoor lacrosse has always been recognized as a fan friendly sport, where players are seem to be more accessible to interacting with fans of all ages. We recommend that you keep an eye on the Arena Lacrosse League and get out to one of the Showcase games and get a glimpse of what’s in store for 2016.
About the Arena Lacrosse League: The Arena Lacrosse League is an Elite summer indoor league that will start in late May and conclude in early September, with the inaugural season slated for 2016.
Each ALL organization will also operate a Junior ALL program where young boys and girls of various ages sign up and play at the same state of the art venues as the Elite teams.
The 2015 ALL Showcase Tour Schedule is as follows:
July 20th – July 25th Xfinity Arena, Everett, Washington
July 27th – August 1st Stockton Arena, Stockton, California
July 27th – August 1st Mohegan Sun @ Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
August 3rd – August 8th Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Portland, Oregon
August 3rd – August 8th Times Union Center, Albany, New York
August 10th – August 15th Maverik Center, Salt Lake City, Utah
August 10th – August 15th Royal Farms Arena, Baltimore, Maryland
August 17th – August 22nd CenturyLink Arena, Boise, Idaho
August 17th – August 22nd Sun National Bank Center, Trenton, New Jersey
August 24th – August 29th PPL Center, Allentown, Pennsylvania
Tickets for the Showcase Games will go on sale in May with prices to be announced soon.