A new age of lacrosse arrived on Monday as the Premier Lacrosse League was officially unveiled to the world.
In a statement, the PLL – co-founded by lacrosse superstar and philanthropist Paul Rabil and his brother Mike Rabil – released the details for their inaugural season, which is set to start play on June 1, 2019.
In September, Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg received word from sources close to the situation that Rabil had teamed up with a group of sports and media investors led by Raine Group to found the new outdoor lacrosse league. The players who made the jump to the PLL would be full-time employees and receive both health benefits and a stake in the league. It was a massive move in the world of lacrosse as up to now, players in the two major leagues – the National Lacrosse League and Major League Lacrosse – had to generally work second jobs due to low salaries.
The start time for the league will also allow players to compete in the NLL, which is the professional indoor lacrosse league that runs throughout the winter and spring.
“Ever since I fell in love with the game I dreamed of being a professional athlete on the sport’s biggest stage. We’re building a professional sports league that lacrosse deserves. The best players in the world will be showcased like never before, thanks to a unique touring model, a robust media-rights partnership, and player content strategy. Additionally, our players will be owners in the PLL, contributing to the build, competition, and ultimate success of the league. This is a product that aligns a league and the players like never before, serving a passionate fan base that deserves access to the sport nationwide, at state-of-the-art venues, and on screens everywhere,” Paul Rabil said in the statement.
The six-team league is set to run under a tour style with a 14-week inaugural season set to take place in 12 different major-market cities. There will be 10 regular season weeks, with All-star weekend as well as two playoff weekends. The PLL Championship will be decided on the weekend of Sept. 21.
As for players, the league roster is stacked.
Rabil managed to recruit all but five of the MLL’s top 25 scorers from the 2018 season to the PLL for the 2019 campaign. The top five players selected in last summers MLL Draft and seven of the top nine picks will also play in the PLL. In terms of veteran talent, Rabil will be joined by two-time MLL MVP Tom Schreiber, 2015 Offensive Player of the year Jodan Wolf, two-time Goalie of the Year Drew Adams, and six-time Defensive Player of the Year Brodie Merrill.
The PLL also announced that they had reached a broadcast deal with NBC Sports, who will broadcast 17 league games on NBC Sports Network and two others on NBC. Twenty other games will also be available for viewing on NBC Sports Gold – their subscription-based streaming service.
“We are excited to partner with the world’s greatest lacrosse player, Paul Rabil, and his brother Michael on this innovative and revolutionary new league,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports.
“As the exclusive home of the PLL, we’ll super-serve fans across the country by utilizing all of our unprecedented assets to drive awareness to this exciting new league. NBC Sports has a long and successful history of growing emerging sports into powerhouses, and we’re excited by this new opportunity.”
With the announcement came the slew of social media posts lauding the league for the talent it managed to reel in.
The PLL also managed to secure several different investors. Along with the aforementioned Raine Group, the league will also be financially backed by Creative Artists Agency (CAA), The Chernin Group, and Blum Capital.
While some leagues have failed to truly get off the ground, it appears as though the PLL will be a mainstay for a long time. The league looks to have the support and structure to maintain long-term success while growing the sport in the process. This is a massive step forward for the sport and should provide a great product for fans once the 2019 season gets underway.