Major League Lacrosse dropped a shocking bombshell on April 1st and it will have lasting impacts – and it is NOT an April Fool’s joke. With seemingly no public warning, the league announced it was reducing its team roster to six with one team per owner, effective immediately.
A statement on www.majorleaguelacrosse.com read: “MLL ownership unanimously agreed on a strategy which limits one team per owner.”
Atlanta, Boston, Chesapeake, Dallas, Denver and New York will remain in the league. The Florida Launch and the Ohio Machine will cease operations immediately while the Charlotte Hounds will suspend operations until 2021 under new ownership.
New Balance founder and chairman Jim Davis is the current owner of Dallas, Charlotte, Florida and Ohio.
As of now, the summers of perennial stars like Kevin Crowley and Shawn Evans are up in the air. MLL told us that there will be a dispersal draft at the end of April, but the move also leaves employees, fans, facilities and more with unanswered questions.
It is not yet clear how this will affect any minor lacrosse programs run by the shuttered teams.
One has to wonder how this sudden change came to be and whether it was communicated to the necessary parties before being announced publicly. It appears to have taken at least the Ohio Machine by surprise. Their website states: “This announcement comes as a terrible surprise to all of us at the Machine. We share in the incredible disappointment in this upsetting news with all those that have supported us over the years. As shocking as this news is, it should not be seen as a reflection of the tremendous success that the Machine, and the game of lacrosse in Ohio, has experienced in recent years.”
Florida’s website echoes this statement, adding: “With that being said, the Launch will not compete in the 2019 season, and all our business partners and season ticket members will be contacted to receive a full refund.” They then parrot Ohio’s statement about this being a shock and the impact the game has had.
As of publication, the Charlotte Hounds have nothing on their website about the change.
Regardless of the speculation, rumours and poor timing, the remaining teams will be impacted as well. The MLL released the new version of the schedule, and surprisingly it was mostly unchanged. The regular season will still run from May 31st to September 21st with teams having more bye weeks. A shorter season might serve the league better after losing a third of their teams.
There is sure to be fallout over this decision with so many lost jobs.
This announcement is particularly painful considering the league is already dealing with fallout from the introduction of Paul Rabil’s Premier Lacrosse League, which was able to quickly build a following with support from many players who left the MLL to join the new travelling league.
The MLL also reacquired its broadcast rights from LaxSportsNetwork, which has broadcast most MLL games for free over the last two seasons. These moves are in addition to the previously announced salary cap increase and additional game day roster spot.