The National Lacrosse League today announced Nick Sakiewicz has been appointed NLL Commissioner, effective immediately. Sakiewicz brings over two decades of experience working in Major League Soccer, most recently serving as co-founding partner and CEO of Keystone Sports and Entertainment, the ownership entity of the Philadelphia Union of MLS.
“I’m honored and excited to join a tremendous group of owners and lead the National Lacrosse League as NLL Commissioner,” Sakiewicz said. “Similar to soccer 20 years ago, lacrosse is a dynamic and rapidly-growing sport amongst an incredible demographic in North America. The National Lacrosse League is celebrating its 30th anniversary season featuring the best players in the world and highlighted by some incredibly entertaining competition. I’m really looking forward to bringing my experience working in MLS to the NLL and helping everyone in the lacrosse community to grow the league and expand the sport.”
Sakiewicz conceived and launched the Philadelphia Union, which marked Major League Soccer’s 16th franchise, along with leading the acquisition and construction of the team’s home field at Talen Energy Stadium (formerly PPL Park) in Chester, Pennsylvania.
Sakiewicz (pronounced Suh‐KEV‐itch) joined Major League Soccer as an original founding executive in 1995. Along with a small group of league executives, Sakiewicz helped launch MLS in 1996 as its first Vice President of Commercial Sponsorship Sales. Sakiewicz went on to lead two inaugural Major League Soccer teams from 1997 to 2006 in Tampa and New York, serving as President and General Manager for both teams.
After nine successful seasons, in which he received the league’s Executive of the Year award twice (1999 & 2000) and was nominated a third time, Sakiewicz played the lead role in building Red Bull Arena and helped in the record sale of the New York MetroStars to the Red Bull energy drink company. He engineered the deal to build the first of two soccer-specific stadiums for the New York Red Bulls in America’s largest market, and in doing so, Sakiewicz solidified the long-term viability of the New York-based MLS franchise.
In 2006, Sakiewicz helped found Keystone Sports and Entertainment by assembling the investors who would eventually become the ownership group of Major League Soccer’s 16th expansion team, the Philadelphia Union. Over a two-year period from 2006 to 2008, Sakiewicz led Keystone’s efforts in negotiating one of the league’s most favorable soccer specific public/private stadium deals in history, paving the way to officially announce the Union’s first-ever season. Over the course of two decades, Sakiewicz has helped launch MLS, managed two inaugural teams, built two stadiums, launched an expansion team and raised over half a billion dollars in investment capital, stadium funding, sponsorship and ticket sales.
“The search for a new Commissioner included consideration of more than 150 candidates, all of whom had significant professional accolades and accomplishments in and out of the sports business,” said Steve Govett, Chairman of the NLL’s Board of Governors. “Nick’s experience in helping to launch and grow Major League Soccer and several of its franchises was incredibly appealing, as was his passion for our product. His vision and expertise in league and franchise management, as well as his intimate knowledge of corporate partnerships and expansion, made him the ideal candidate to lead the National Lacrosse League and take it to new heights.”
Sakiewicz takes over for former NLL Commissioner George Daniel, who had served in the role since 2009 before announcing in November that was he stepping down to start a new law firm while remaining as Counsel to the league.
“I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to George [Daniel] for his years of stewardship to our league, and for continuing to strengthen the position of box lacrosse in North America,” Govett added.