This past week I went one on one with Major League Lacrosse commissioner David Gross regarding the state of the league, expansion on the horizon, league rules and more. In doing so I wanted to bring a greater understanding for what the 2015 season should bring.
On The MLL Game Balls
For the first time in league history, Major League Lacrosse did not use their customized “grippy balls” that have slight dents in them. The league stated that they wished for the “slippy” balls to be easier to see on television.
“The plain orange ball didn’t make the ball more visible on TV, so on that level it didn’t work as we had hoped.” Gross told us. Earlier in the year, we profiled grippy ball-game and this same subject.
Dave Cottle, the Chesapeake Bayhawks head coach, told us two weeks into the season “The MLL had the best ball in lacrosse. It no longer does. The non grippy ball isn’t any more visible than the grippy one. Bring grippy ball back!”
However, Commissioner Gross says this was a non issue in season. ” Once the season began everyone just focused on playing the games.”
Since the “slippy” ball did not succeed, the league is still trying to come up with a way for the balls to be seen during a broadcast.
“We’ve been working with some people to come up with an optimal color.” Gross says. “The lime green ball certainly had better visibility than the orange ball, but still is short of what we are seeking.”
In the 2014 season it seemed like the lime green ball used in a game this season was the most well received. We’ll see what direction they go in next year.
On Expansion and Relocation
During the Major League Lacrosse championship broadcast, Gross told us that there would be no expansion in 2015. However, the door is open for 2016 and beyond.
“If we have a team in Atlanta we would like it to be an expansion team.” says Gross, so we know that current MLL fans can rest assured that their team won’t be moving. We also learned this month that the Rochester Rattlers are staying put.
In an interesting tidbit, Commissioner Gross told us that the Hamilton Nationals ceased operations this past off season. This was surprising as reports had indicated last year that the Nationals would return at the CFL Hamilton Tiger Cats new stadium, but it seems like we won’t see another Canadian MLL team anytime soon.
“We think that Texas is a very viable market for the MLL and would like to have one or two teams eventually in the state.” Gross says about markets to watch in the future. The idea of two teams in the state is interesting as well, as we could presume Dallas and Houston as those markets. What could that mean for the rest of the south and midwest?
On The Future
Major League Lacrosse changed their playoff format this season with teams now hosting playoff games if they are a top two seed. If teams were added, would they add more playoff games? “Playoffs probably won’t be expanded until we reach twelve teams.” Gross said. Since there won’t be expansion in 2015, it’s easy to say this could happen in around four to six years.
Gross also says we won’t see any roster expansion or reduction with new teams. “We think the dress roster of 19 works very well for the MLL at this point in time.”
One of the bigger concerns about the league for the past few years has been the timing of the season. The National Lacrosse League expanded 18 game schedule has created conflict for players, but the league does not seem concerned by this.
“We’ve had that for several years so it is something that we are used to.”
Lastly, the idea arose about the potential of Major League Lacrosse supporting a box lacrosse league in America, since the NLL uses the Canadian Lacrosse League as a feeder league.
“Ever is a very long time.” Gross says of if and when something like this might happen. “Our attention today is solely focused on making the MLL the best league that it can be.”