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Titans Optimistic About NLL's Future in Orlando
by Jeff Berlinicke | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online
Jordan Hall and the Titans make the move from New York to Orlando for the 2010 season.
Jordan Hall has never been to Walt Disney World. He’s
never seen Space Mountain and he’s never slid down Summit
Plummet at Blizzard Beach.
He’s about to get his opportunity.
Hall, along with most of last year’s New York Titans, are making the move to Orlando to become the first Florida team in the National Lacrosse League. The Titans will enter a burgeoning lacrosse market that has blossomed in recent years with expanding prep programs and two varsity college teams, not to mention some of the strongest college club programs in the country.
The Titans will play their games at the Amway Arena, home of the NBA’s Orlando Magic. Hall has been to Orlando, he just hasn’t met The Mouse.
“I’ve been to Islands of Adventure, but never to Disney,” Hall said. “I might be the only person in the country that hasn’t been to Disney, but I think I can make it this year.”
That might be a good idea. Disney, along with the Magic, are working hand-in-hand with the Titans to get ready for January when the Titans will open their first NLL season in Florida. Hall said that at least 50 percent of the New York Titans would make the move to Central Florida. The Titans reached the NLL Champion’s Cup last season before losing to the Calgary Roughnecks, 12-10. The Titans played two home games at Madison Square Garden and five more in Newark, N.J., but team president Steve Donner said he had been eyeing Florida for the past several years. Attendance was dipping in New York, and Donner said the Orlando market, with many less teams, seemed to be a better fit for the NLL.
“This area is ripe for lacrosse,” Donner said. “We know that this area can thrive, and there is so much enthusiasm in Orlando that it was a perfect fit. We were looking for a new market for the game, and I put together a cheat sheet that had Florida all over it.”
The cheat sheet showed that Florida was a lacrosse boom state and that the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning had been successful at the box office. That led to Donner looking long and hard at Tampa as the favorite for the next NLL franchise, until the Lightning switched owners in 2008. Since then, the team has been involved in a brutal court battle over team ownership. Donner decided to look about 70 miles east on Interstate 4 at Orlando, where hockey doesn’t offer competition for the dollar and the Magic sell out every game.
“We looked at Tampa because we know if people like hockey they will love lacrosse,” Donner said. “There were other teams in our league looking at Tampa, so we jumped after it. I thought things were in trouble after the problems with the Lightning in Tampa, but I was told not to underestimate Orlando.”
Orlando has committed to building a new arena (Amway Arena is the smallest in the NBA), and Donner said the idea grew bigger as he looked at the drawing power of the Central Florida market.
Hall, who led the University of Delaware to the NCAA semifinals in 2007, moved on to Rochester in 2008 and led the Rattlers to the NLL title after a mid-season trade from Chicago.
“All I know is that they love lacrosse in Orlando, and if I have to make a million flights from New York to Orlando, I don’t mind,” Hall said. “This is a great way to expand the game. Trust me, I plan to make it to Disney World.”
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