It is no secret, this year’s All-Star Game was put in Boca Raton for a reason. The MLL is looking to expand, and Florida is a key market they are looking at. The league appears to be on the upswing, two television deals with high end networks, decent attendance, corporate sponsors, and stable operating costs. Commissioner David Gross has stated that the league wants to double in size by 2020, with 14 to 16 teams. The first two teams were added this season, the Charlotte Hounds and the Ohio Machine. Although their play on the field hasn’t been great, Charlotte sits third in the league in attendance and Ohio has been hovering around the middle of the league.
The next wave of teams are expected to come in 2014, as Gross also stated that the plan was to add teams every other year. He recently said in an interview with Inside Lacrosse that the league will be eight teams once again for 2013. One of the markets that’s been talked about when it comes to 2014 is Florida, which has its upsides and its downsides.
Florida has a growing lacrosse following, which is very evident in the increase of youth teams and collegiate teams. Although Jacksonville is the only D1 team, almost all of the large universities now field MCLA programs. It appears to be a good location to test at least, and maybe if the attendance is good this weekend place a team.
Down the road the heat could be an issue, but with most of the league’s games being played at night it shouldn’t be too difficult. Another hurtle is rain, but that shouldn’t affect the game that much. When it comes to Florida, you also have to decide where the best location for the team would be. The All-Star Game is in Boca Raton, but do they try Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando, or Tampa instead?
Whatever the case, this weekend is an incredibly important one for the future of the MLL in Florida. If attendance is good, it may be the final certification that Florida is a good market for the league. However if attendance is very poor it may make the league reconsider. I urge anyone who lives in Florida to make a trip to the game Saturday night. Its should be a great way to spend your weekend.