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WK
1
Fri, Dec 2
FINAL
Philadelphia
8
Halifax
18
Sat, Dec 3
FINAL
Vancouver
8
Toronto
19
Sat, Dec 3
FINAL
San Diego
15
New York
14
Sat, Dec 3
FINAL
Albany
11
Buffalo
10
Sat, Dec 3
FINAL
Rochester
16
Georgia
11
Sat, Dec 3
FINAL
Colorado
6
Saskatchewan
18
WK
2
Fri, Dec 9
20:30:00
Las Vegas
Panther City
Fri, Dec 9
22:00:00
Saskatchewan
San Diego
Sat, Dec 10
19:00:00
Toronto
Rochester
Sat, Dec 10
21:30:00
Vancouver
Calgary
WK
3
Fri, Dec 16
22:00:00
Calgary
Vancouver
Fri, Dec 16
22:30:00
Panther City
Las Vegas
Sat, Dec 17
19:00:00
Buffalo
Toronto
Sat, Dec 17
19:00:00
Rochester
Albany
Sat, Dec 17
19:00:00
Philadelphia
Georgia
Sat, Dec 17
19:30:00
Halifax
New York
Sat, Dec 17
20:00:00
Colorado
Panther City
WK
5
Fri, Dec 30
19:30:00
Halifax
Buffalo
Fri, Dec 30
21:00:00
San Diego
Calgary
Sat, Dec 31
21:00:00
Panther City
Saskatchewan
WK
6
Fri, Jan 6
22:30:00
Philadelphia
Las Vegas
Sat, Jan 7
19:00:00
Panther City
Rochester
Sat, Jan 7
19:00:00
Halifax
Albany
Sat, Jan 7
19:00:00
Buffalo
Georgia
Sat, Jan 7
19:30:00
Toronto
New York
Sat, Jan 7
22:00:00
Vancouver
San Diego
Sun, Jan 8
0:00:00
Calgary
Colorado
WK
7
Fri, Jan 13
18:30:00
Albany
Halifax
Fri, Jan 13
21:00:00
Saskatchewan
Colorado
Sat, Jan 14
19:00:00
Halifax
Toronto
Sat, Jan 14
19:00:00
Panther City
Philadelphia
Sat, Jan 14
19:30:00
Georgia
Buffalo
Sat, Jan 14
21:00:00
San Diego
Calgary
Sat, Jan 14
22:00:00
Las Vegas
Vancouver
Sun, Jan 15
15:00:00
Rochester
New York
WK
8
Fri, Jan 20
19:30:00
Buffalo
Rochester
Fri, Jan 20
22:30:00
Vancouver
Las Vegas
Sat, Jan 21
19:00:00
New York
Albany
Sat, Jan 21
19:00:00
Toronto
Philadelphia
WK
9
Fri, Jan 27
18:00:00
Rochester
Halifax
Fri, Jan 27
19:00:00
Buffalo
Philadelphia
Sat, Jan 28
19:30:00
Buffalo
New York
Sat, Jan 28
20:30:00
Las Vegas
Saskatchewan
Sat, Jan 28
21:00:00
Toronto
Calgary
Sat, Jan 28
21:00:00
San Diego
Colorado
Sat, Jan 28
22:00:00
Panther City
Vancouver
WK
10
Fri, Feb 3
21:00:00
Georgia
Colorado
Sat, Feb 4
18:00:00
Calgary
Halifax
Sat, Feb 4
19:00:00
New York
Toronto
Sat, Feb 4
19:00:00
Albany
Philadelphia
Sat, Feb 4
19:30:00
Rochester
Buffalo
Sat, Feb 4
22:00:00
Panther City
San Diego
Sat, Feb 4
22:00:00
Saskatchewan
Vancouver
Sat, Feb 4
22:30:00
Colorado
Las Vegas
WK
11
Fri, Feb 10
19:30:00
Toronto
Georgia
Fri, Feb 10
21:00:00
Saskatchewan
Calgary
Sat, Feb 11
19:00:00
Halifax
Rochester
Sat, Feb 11
19:30:00
Albany
New York
Sat, Feb 11
20:00:00
Vancouver
Panther City
Sat, Feb 11
21:00:00
Colorado
Calgary
WK
12
Fri, Feb 17
22:00:00
Saskatchewan
San Diego
Fri, Feb 17
22:00:00
Calgary
Vancouver
Sat, Feb 18
19:00:00
Georgia
Toronto
Sat, Feb 18
19:00:00
Las Vegas
Albany
Sat, Feb 18
19:30:00
Philadelphia
Buffalo
Sat, Feb 18
20:00:00
Colorado
Panther City
Sun, Feb 19
13:00:00
New York
Halifax
WK
13
Fri, Feb 24
21:00:00
Panther City
Colorado
Fri, Feb 24
22:30:00
Calgary
Las Vegas
Sat, Feb 25
19:00:00
New York
Rochester
Sat, Feb 25
19:00:00
Albany
Georgia
Sat, Feb 25
20:00:00
Vancouver
Saskatchewan
WK
14
Fri, Mar 3
18:30:00
Buffalo
Halifax
Fri, Mar 3
21:00:00
Las Vegas
San Diego
Sat, Mar 4
11:30:00
New York
Philadelphia
Sat, Mar 4
19:00:00
Rochester
Toronto
Sat, Mar 4
19:00:00
Georgia
Albany
Sat, Mar 4
20:00:00
Saskatchewan
Panther City
Mon, Mar 6
19:00:00
Toronto
Philadelphia
WK
15
Fri, Mar 10
19:30:00
Halifax
Buffalo
Fri, Mar 10
21:00:00
Calgary
Colorado
Sat, Mar 11
19:00:00
Albany
Toronto
Sat, Mar 11
19:30:00
Philadelphia
New York
Sat, Mar 11
20:30:00
San Diego
Saskatchewan
Sat, Mar 11
22:30:00
Vancouver
Las Vegas
Sun, Mar 12
16:00:00
Rochester
Georgia
WK
16
Fri, Mar 17
21:00:00
Saskatchewan
Calgary
Fri, Mar 17
22:00:00
San Diego
Vancouver
Sat, Mar 18
11:00:00
Georgia
Philadelphia
Sat, Mar 18
18:00:00
Toronto
Halifax
Sat, Mar 18
19:30:00
Albany
New York
Sat, Mar 18
19:30:00
Colorado
Buffalo
Sat, Mar 18
20:00:00
Las Vegas
Panther City
Sun, Mar 19
15:00:00
Philadelphia
Rochester
WK
17
Fri, Mar 24
20:30:00
San Diego
Panther City
Sat, Mar 25
19:00:00
Toronto
Albany
Sat, Mar 25
19:00:00
Halifax
Philadelphia
Sat, Mar 25
19:30:00
Georgia
New York
Sat, Mar 25
21:30:00
Calgary
Saskatchewan
Sat, Mar 25
22:00:00
Buffalo
San Diego
Sat, Mar 25
22:00:00
Colorado
Vancouver
Sat, Mar 25
22:30:00
Rochester
Las Vegas
WK
18
Fri, Mar 31
20:00:00
New York
Georgia
Fri, Mar 31
21:00:00
Las Vegas
Colorado
Fri, Mar 31
22:00:00
Calgary
San Diego
Sat, Apr 1
19:00:00
Buffalo
Toronto
Sat, Apr 1
20:00:00
Albany
Panther City
Sat, Apr 1
21:30:00
Vancouver
Saskatchewan
Sun, Apr 2
13:00:00
Georgia
Halifax
Sun, Apr 2
18:00:00
Rochester
Philadelphia
WK
19
Sat, Apr 8
19:00:00
Albany
Rochester
Sat, Apr 8
19:00:00
Saskatchewan
Georgia
Sat, Apr 8
21:00:00
Panther City
Calgary
Sat, Apr 8
21:00:00
Vancouver
Colorado
Sat, Apr 8
22:30:00
San Diego
Las Vegas
WK
20
Fri, Apr 14
21:00:00
Las Vegas
Calgary
Fri, Apr 14
21:00:00
San Diego
Colorado
Sat, Apr 15
19:00:00
Philadelphia
Toronto
Sat, Apr 15
19:00:00
Georgia
Albany
Sat, Apr 15
19:30:00
New York
Buffalo
Sat, Apr 15
21:30:00
Halifax
Saskatchewan
Sat, Apr 15
22:00:00
Panther City
Vancouver
WK
21
Fri, Apr 21
20:30:00
Calgary
Panther City
Sat, Apr 22
18:00:00
New York
Halifax
Sat, Apr 22
19:00:00
Georgia
Rochester
Sat, Apr 22
20:00:00
Toronto
Buffalo
Sat, Apr 22
21:30:00
Colorado
Saskatchewan
Sat, Apr 22
22:00:00
Las Vegas
San Diego
Sun, Apr 23
15:00:00
Philadelphia
Albany
WK
22
Sat, Apr 29
19:00:00
Philadelphia
Rochester
Sat, Apr 29
19:00:00
Buffalo
Albany
Sat, Apr 29
19:00:00
Halifax
Georgia
Sat, Apr 29
22:00:00
Colorado
San Diego
Sat, Apr 29
22:00:00
New York
Vancouver
Sat, Apr 29
22:30:00
Saskatchewan
Las Vegas
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Stories/Op-Ed

NATIONAL LACROSSE LEAGUE FOLLOWS MLS EXAMPLE IN NAVIGATING RAPID GROWTH

This article was originally published to Sportico on January 21, 2021

Nick Sakiewicz is commissioner of the National Lacrosse League.

We all know how much sports and business are driven by numbers. So I’ll start by citing two that are significant to me personally and professionally: 25 and 35.

Major League Soccer, the league where I spent two decades as president and GM of three teams, turns 25 years old this year. The National Lacrosse League, for which I now serve as commissioner, will play its 35th season in 2021.

Those numbers are connected, not only for me personally, but for the broader American sports community. The lessons learned in growing MLS in its first 25 years echo in what we are doing to expand the reach and scope not just of the NLL, but of the sport itself, well into the future.

 

Of course, the differences in the two sports are clear, and go beyond the size of the ball and the configuration of the playing field. Soccer is a massive global sport that took a while to gain a large following in the U.S. Lacrosse is this nation’s most indigenous sport, played here for literally thousands of years, but one that has been slow to reach beyond its ancestral birthplace.

More recently, however, the two sports have shared a similar trajectory, one of rapid growth. I know this trajectory well. As a professional soccer goalkeeper in North America during the 1980s, I and my cohorts played for the passion and love of the game, in small leagues, some of which expired because it wasn’t their time. Shortly after I retired from playing in 1990, I joined a small group of executives assembled to start Major League Soccer and became its first VP of sponsorship sales. That began a 21-year journey in MLS that included stops in Tampa, New York and Philadelphia, and included the launch of an expansion team and the construction of two soccer-specific stadiums.

I never imagined a similar opportunity would come along, but five years ago, the National Lacrosse League knocked on my door. The NLL was a little-known league that survived for 30 years, and had experienced its ups and downs, but what was happening beneath the professional level looked awfully familiar. Over the last decade or so, lacrosse participation at the grassroots had begun to percolate, then explode, a pattern remarkably similar to soccer in the 1980s.

When we came aboard NLL five years ago, we knew that we had to take the assets that existed and reimagine them for where the business would be in the future. Who were our fans, what could our athletes and owners tell us, what could our media partners do with us, and how could we pivot to the future?

We had an example to follow: Under the leadership of some visionary owners and commissioner Don Garber, MLS had been finding answers to those same questions for two decades.

At NLL, we’ve been applying those lessons. We followed a plan we had seen work in MLS—have dedicated and smart ownership at the team level, build a core fan base and create a great, authentic experience in the digital space as well as at the venue. We made sure our owners—whose members have experience in the NBA, WNBA, NHL and NFL—knew our growth wouldn’t be meteoric, but that our plan made strategic business sense. And over time, our attendance, revenue and television viewership rose.

When the pandemic hit and we were forced to shut down, we were enjoying one of our best seasons in history, with record attendance, new brands coming on board and a more engaged digital native audience enjoying the storytelling around our teams and owners. We were set up to again trail only the NBA and NHL in attendance for winter sports, with a continued rise in fans to nearly 10,000 paid per game, over 65% of whom were coming to our games for the overall arena experience more than the sport. As one of our teams likes to say, “They came for the party, and stayed for the lacrosse.”

Like MLS, a key element to our core success is understanding the history of our game and how it applies now and into the future. The sport of lacrosse is owned by the Indigenous people. It is their game and we are the custodians. We made sure when we were reimagining the NLL that we took the steps to embrace that history. Now, in these times of expanded social consciousness, we continue to make sure we are listening and executing initiatives that are respectful and inclusive of all people, especially those with Indigenous roots. Many of the best lacrosse players not just in our league but on the planet have ties to Indigenous culture, so working with them to use the NLL as a vehicle for awareness and inclusion is vital. That ethos is part of all we do.

So where do all these lessons lead us today, as the calendar swings to 2021 and beyond? Without action in the arena, our staff worked to achieve unmatched social-media growth during the pandemic, connecting with our fans, and our athletes and coaches, in a way we really hadn’t before. We achieved follower growth on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and saw engagement grow from 20% to 76% per post.

We kept looking and listening to new expansion partners, and have added another key group in a growth area, North Texas, with the launch of Panther City Lacrosse Club in Fort Worth. Meanwhile, we are getting closer to adding a 15th franchise and will be announcing the ownership group early in 2021.

NLL and MLS are both leagues whose recent successes are decades in the making and whose futures are bright. The core story is similar, and the numbers don’t lie. And speaking of the numbers, we remind you to keep your eye on those properties that are now 25 and 35.

Since Sakiewicz was named commissioner in January of 2016, the NLL has attracted seven new owners, established five expansion franchises, and launched a digital streaming network, NLL TV. Prior to joining NLL, Sakiewicz was twice recognized as Major League Soccer’s Executive of the Year.

NLL