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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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Interviews

Nick Sakiewicz | Why the NLL chose to sit this one out

National Lacrosse League commissioner Nick Sakiewicz explains why the league is continuing to halt its play amid the Covid-19 pandemic and is instead preparing to return in the fall

Originally published on February 12, 2021 on Sportsbusiness.com 

 

Throughout history, sport has had a unique ability to unite communities through good times and bad times. At the National Lacrosse League, we ascribe to the view and live by Nelson Mandela’s statement that, “sport has the power to change the world.”

This has been the case at least in my lifetime, including through challenging times like the financial crisis in 2008-09 and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

These past 11 months, however, have presented society, both personally and professionally, with a challenge that is unlike those of the past. Sports have struggled to return amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and offer the kind of reprieve, solace and respite that has historically been the case. The news cycle has been mired with the ups and downs of the pandemic, including starts and stops, which has contributed the challenges. This led to some of the hardest decisions of my career.

When the world closed down in March 2020 the NLL was in the midst of one of our most successful seasons ever: attendance, sponsorship, social engagement, brand relevance were all on the uptick, and our expectations for a robust championship leading into our 35th season were very high.

Then the reality of Covid-19 set in, and like so many of our colleagues we paused and started to look at what was next. While the NLL is a professional sports league that has many similarities to other leagues –  including that more than half of our owners own teams in the other major North American pro sports properties – we also have our own set of challenges and opportunities.

First, our player population is quite unique. Not only do they have other jobs, but 70 per cent of them are from – and live in – Canada. Therefore, border restrictions, quarantines, and travel challenges made our circumstances nearly impossible to contend with.

Second, like many other challenger properties, our primary revenue is from the in-arena experience, with ticket sales and the game-day experience being the main source of our commercial business.  We are – and have been – a digital-first league, which means we are less protected by a massive television rights deal that drive some of the larger North American sports.

We are a sport of digitally native fans and have taken a direct strategy aimed at engaging Millennials and Gen Z, and our numbers have been consistently rising. We believe this strategy has the NLL ahead of the curve, attracting a young growing audience in the migration to streaming and mobile viewing experience. But it created challenges for us in the short term in the midst of the pandemic.

Still, despite those challenges, we examined every scenario that we could to return to play, both in the Spring of 2020 as well as for our 2021-22 season.  We looked at bubbles in the United States and Canada, outdoor games, and parallel leagues where players never crossed the border. Every option was on the table.

All through the process we had daily conversations with medical and government officials, building personnel, vendors who are leading the industry in technology and innovation, and every sports league and organization across the globe to glean best practices and guidance for our unique situation.

We were supported by the fact that our owners are deep inside the decision-making process of other leagues, and their learnings and insights were extremely timely and valuable. We also were in daily conversations with the Professional Lacrosse Players Association that represents our players.

We were driven largely by the fact that our fans more than anything wanted to see our game, even if it was just on a screen. Motivated by the desire to bring the NLL back to our fans, in December 2020 and January 2021, we built a “bubble” plan that provided opportunities to innovate new technologies and fan engagement vehicles.

As we examined the situation, and in particular, the continued unpredictability of the pandemic and the increasingly challenging landscape at the Canadian border, we realized that we needed to wait and not create a situation where the risks outweighed the opportunity.

When we made the announcement to delay our return and plan instead for a 2021-22 season, we were full of angst. Would we be letting our partners and our fans down? What we found in the days since our plan was revealed was actually the opposite of despair. We received calls and emails from similarly sized leagues and properties, from media companies and from building operators who thanked us for taking the stand on standing down.

To be clear, this wasn’t an easy decision. But for our sport, our players, our owners and our partners it was the right one.

I want to make one thing abundantly clear. We applaud and are rooting for every sports league who has returned. We will all feed off each other’s successes.

Sometimes the best shot is the one you don’t take. That’s the lesson learned for us, as we start the ramp up to next fall with 14 teams and a healthy business product, we can’t wait for what’s to come.

Nick Sakiewicz is the commissioner of the National Lacrosse League.

NLL