MLL Eyes Expansion in 2012 and 2013
|"The health of our league has never been better," says Major League Lacrosse commissioner David Gross, who expects the MLL to expand to 10 teams by 2013.|
Major League Lacrosse plans to announce in February the addition of two new teams that would begin play in the 2012 season, and league commissioner David Gross said it is "in the bank" that the league will also add two teams for 2013. The expansion would return the outdoor pro league to the 10-team size it enjoyed before a four-team contraction prior to the 2009 season.
The locations of the new teams were not disclosed, but Gross said Wednesday they would most likely be in the eastern or southern parts of the country, not the West Coast.
MLL has identified 19 markets in which it has interest, including: Atlanta, Columbus (Ohio), Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville (Tenn.), Orange County (Calif.), Orlando (Fla.), Pittsburgh, Raleigh-Durham (N.C.), Salt Lake City and Virginia Beach (Va.). The league has also examined the possibility of a team in either Portland, Ore., or Seattle.
Also on the list are Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco, home of former MLL franchises Machine, Barrage and Dragons, respectively.
The long-term plan is to have a 16-team league by 2019, Gross said, adding that MLL has ownership groups ready to invest in all 19 markets.
"The health of our league has never been better," Gross said on the heels of MLL's 10th anniversary season. "Ten years gives us legitimacy."
"We feel there is enough talent," he said of expansion plans. "It will also help keep guys in the league longer."
The league also wants to expand from a 12-game regular season to 14 games for the 2012 season, an increase that Gross said many players have supported.
There is also news regarding the annual MLL all-star event.
The game, held July 9 at Harvard Stadium in Boston, will have a new format. Teams will be selected by two fan captains, who will pick sides in a fantasy-style draft on the field the night before the game.
The pool of 40 all-stars will be picked as they have in the past, and each fan will select one MLL all-star with their top pick to help them with the rest of the selections. Each team will be slotted a certain amount of players for each position for balance.