It was announced yesterday that the Hamilton Nationals will be moving down to the Sunshine State for the 2014 season. The team will thus be called the Florida Launch. This is the franchises fourth stop in the last number of years. First being the original Rochester Rattlers, then moving to Toronto as the Nationals, after moving north of the border the Nationals moved to Hamilton and keeping the Nationals name, and now the franchise has moved to Florida to be the Launch.
The Nationals had won the MLL Championship in 2009, in its first season as a team. They have made the playoffs in three out its five seasons as the Nationals.
The Team had become more or less Canada’s field lacrosse team, being that the team was the only Canadian based team in the MLL. This was also reinforced by the fact that almost the entire team was either Canadian or an Iroquois. The Team was also one of the strongest teams year in and year out.
The lead up to the big move was put on by the MLL by having more games played in the south. The league also had the All-Star game played at Florida Gulf Coast University, last season.
The rumors that a team would be moving were swirling all over this fall and the only team that seemed to be mentioned in the rumors was the Nationals. The Team has had some problems the last few years with getting butts in the stands, but that has been a problem for a number of teams in the league, teams like the Ohio Machine.
This seems to be a good move by the league to move the team, but it does come at a cost. Many die-hards, myself included, wanted an MLL team in Canada for many years. Then in 2009 we got our wish with the Toronto Nationals. Now it seems that the MLL will alienate both their Canadian fan base, and the fans who had called for a Canadian team for so long.
The South is a growing lacrosse area and with the Charlotte Hounds the sport has grown exponentially. Although the South is a growing lacrosse community, Canada is the largest hot bed for lacrosse players in the world.
I may not agree with the move but everyone will just have to wait and see how things play out for the ne Florida Launch.