Earlier this morning, Major League Lacrosse announced that the league would be contracting from nine teams to six for the coming 2019 season. Ohio was one of the teams selected for contraction. At this time, the Ohio Machine is not scheduled to compete this season. Business partners and ticket purchasers for the 2019 season will be contacted to receive a full refund.
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.
When the team was originally formed, success was to be measured in three areas: how the team did on the field, how we supported the growth of game in the region, and how well we provided fans an amazing experience. Since day one, everything that we have done was dedicated to each of these areas, and we feel that our success is clearly evident.
In terms of the success on the field, the numbers speak for themselves. Led by homegrown head coach Bear Davis, who took over the team following the 2013 season, the Machine was transformed and established itself as perennial fixture in the playoffs. Under the guidance of Coach Davis and his staff, the Machine made four straight playoff berths including back-to-back appearances in the MLL Championship game, winning it all in 2017. We thank Coach Davis and his assistants for pouring their hearts and souls into the Machine and giving us a Championship-caliber team year-in and out.
On the measurable of growing the game, success can be seen in the number of events and opportunities that we spearheaded supporting the game year-around. Be it through the administration of Central Ohio Youth Lacrosse League (COYLL), a recreational youth league comprised of 20 communities and over 1,500 youth players, or the annual Lacrosse Convention held each December which brings in over 600 attendees from around the country, we have dedicated ourselves to supporting lacrosse education and creating playing opportunities that would not have existed otherwise. This fact is further underscored through the work of the Ohio Machine Lacrosse Foundation which was created to financially support a number of initiatives backing the lacrosse community, including grants for schools and programs throughout the state, as well as a collegiate scholarship for both a graduating high school senior boy and girl lacrosse player. We thank everyone who has supported these initiatives and want them to know that their dedication to the Machine will not be forgotten.
Finally, in consideration of providing our fans an amazing experience, success can be seen in the growth in attendance over the years. We cannot thank our fans enough for their incredible support during this period. Our dedicated and growing fan base translated to increases in attendance each season with all-time highs recorded just last year. In fact, numbers for the coming 2019 season had us positioned for our best year ever in terms of fans in the stands. Moreover, interest was so strong that we were close to finalizing deals that would have ensured all of our games be broadcast live on both television and radio this coming season. This would have been a media package that no other team in our league had. We thank everyone that has supported us over the years. It has been your passion that has made all the hard work so enjoyable and our successes so sweet.
On the topic of fan experience, we must thank the Village of Obetz, who provided us an incredible home in Fortress Obetz, the nation’s first purpose-built, professional lacrosse stadium. We thank Mayor Scott, Councilmembers of Village Council, and the residents of Obetz for giving us more support than we could have asked for. As the only team in Major League Lacrosse with its own stadium we were positioned for long-term success like no other team in our league. Unfortunately, we were not afforded the time to realize that success.
It is clear to all of us at the Machine that despite the news today, lacrosse has a bright future in Ohio. Just look at the parks, playgrounds and school fields around the state this spring and you will see what we see. All of us at the Machine have a deep-seated passion for this incredible game, and as long as we are able, we promise we will continue to support it at all levels.
Ohio Machine Lacrosse