Premier Lacrosse League

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Premier Lacrosse League
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2023 Premier Lacrosse League season
SportField lacrosse
Founded2018
FounderMike Rabil, Paul Rabil
First season2019
PresidentPaul Rabil
No. of teams8
Countries United States
 Canada
HeadquartersEl Segundo, California
Most recent
champion(s)
Archers LC
(1st title)
(2023)
Most titlesWhipsnakes LC
(2 titles)
TV partner(s)ESPN
ABC
ESPN2
ESPN+
Official websitepremierlacrosseleague.com

Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) is an American professional field lacrosse league composed of 8 teams.[1] The league's inaugural season debuted on June 1, 2019, and included a 14-week tour-based schedule taking place in 12 major-market cities.[2] The league was founded by the American professional lacrosse player Paul Rabil and his brother Mike Rabil. Investors include The Chernin Group, The Raine Group and Joe Tsai.[3]

History[edit]

In September 2018, Bloomberg reported that Paul Rabil would be launching a new professional lacrosse league. The PLL would be a direct competitor to the more established Major League Lacrosse. The new league will provide professional lacrosse players with salaries, health care, and league equity.[4] By October 2018, 140 players had been signed by the PLL. Of the 140 players are 86 All-Americans, 25 members of the U.S. national team, and 10 former Tewaaraton Award winners.[5][6] By December the league had signed 17 additional players.[7] For the League's inaugural season, the PLL had the 6 founding teams draft a player in each of the 4 rounds. For the first round there was a random draw and the reverse the order every round. Archers had the first draft pick in the newly formed league, taking Pat Spencer making him the first player ever drafted in the PLL.[8][9]

As opposed to tying teams to a specific market, the league's first season toured 12 different "major market cities". The season included 14 weeks, comprising 10 regular-season weekends, 1 all-star weekend, and 3 playoff weekends, running from June 1 through September 21, assuring there was no overlap with the NCAA Lacrosse season or the National Lacrosse League regular season.[10] Paul Rabil first hinted at expansion in a post game interview after the 2019 Championship game and on January 1, 2020, the Premier Lacrosse League announced the Waterdogs Lacrosse Club's admission into the league.[11] An expansion draft took place on February 12 and an entry draft occurred on March 16 to build the new roster with veteran players.[12]

On December 16, 2020, it was announced that the PLL and MLL had merged under the banner of the PLL. The PLL would add the Boston Cannons for the 2021 season, rebranded as the Cannons Lacrosse Club, to bring the total PLL teams to eight.[13] Small tweaks to the former Boston Cannons branding resulted in a PLL crest and logo reveal on January 12, 2021.[14] In July 2022, Ticketmaster tracked a 38% growth in tickets purchased and attendance. The PLL also announced the approved Series D round of funding for the league which was being led by return investor The Chernin Group (TCG). Other investors include Blue Pool Capitol, Brett Jefferson, WWE, 35V, Kevin Durant, Rich Klieman, Wheelhouse Entertainment, and Pomp Investments.[15]

On May 25, 2023 it was announced that the PLL would be assigning home cities to teams beginning with the 2024 season. Voting for the finalists began on June 3, 2023, and the 26 finalists were announced during the 2023 PLL All-Star game. The finalists were selected through a mix of fan-voting, customer data, ticketing performance, and venue availability. The PLL also announced that they would not be moving away from the touring model. Teams will continue to play on ten regular season weekends, two of which will be played at neutral sites, the other eight of which will be hosted by one of the teams. On the weekend a team hosts, they will play a doubleheader. [16][17][18][19] On November 14, the home cities were announced for each of the 8 teams; Chrome Lacrosse Club was replaced by the Denver Outlaws.[20] Rabil envisions the league’s decision to affiliate teams with geographic areas as the 2nd of three potential phases in the PLL’s expansion as it continues to capture the attention and viewership of casual fans. Rabil mentioned Phase 3 could become traditional home-and-away schedule like MLL, and the PLL owning venues in each of these markets.[21]

Format and rules[edit]

The PLL regular season consists of 10-weekends where games are played. Halfway through the season there is an all-star break where the exhibition all-star game is played as well as other all-star skills challenges. The PLL utilizes a touring model and plays at a different location each weekend. Prior to the 2023 PLL season it was announced that the PLL would be assigning home cities to teams while still utilizing the touring model. Each team will host one weekend where they play a doubleheader. The remaining two weekends will be played at a neutral site.[16][19] The PLL postseason consists of a 7-team single elimination tournament. Only one team does not qualify for the postseason. The top-seed receives a bye into the semifinals. All three quarterfinals games are played on the same day at the same location. The same is true for the semifinals.[22]

The PLL has a variety of major rule differences compared to traditional field lacrosse:[23][24][25][26]

  • A PLL field is shorter by 10 yards compared to traditional field lacrosse. Traditional field lacrosse is played on a 110-yard field with 80 yards separating the two goals, in the PLL the field is 100 yards with 70 yards separating the two goals. The field width remains at 60 yards.
  • In the PLL a two-point goal can be scored outside of the two-point arc. The arc is 15 yards at the top-center, top-left, and top-right portions, and is 13-yards at the corners.
  • There is a 52-second shot clock on possessions gained from defensive stops and other turnovers. When there is a shot and the offense retains possession the shot clock is 32 seconds. The shot-clock is 32 seconds on possessions gained from winning the face-off.
  • Field players are not required to wear shoulder pads.

Teams[edit]

Teams competing in the 2024 PLL season.

As of the 2024 season, eight clubs with rosters of 25 players each compete in the Premier Lacrosse League, divided equally into two conferences.[27] The Eastern Conference consists of the Boston Cannons, Maryland Whipsnakes, New York Atlas and Philadelphia Waterdogs, while the Western Conference consists of the California Redwoods, Carolina Chaos, Denver Outlaws and Utah Archers.[28] Six of the current teams have competed in the league continuously since the inaugural 2019 season.[29][30] The Waterdogs were admitted as an expansion team in the 2020 season,[31][32][33] while the Cannons moved from Major League Lacrosse (MLL) and began play in the 2021 season.[34][35] The Cannons were the only MLL club to survive the MLL–PLL merger,[35] though the Outlaws, originally founded as the Chrome Lacrosse Club, adopted the identity of the MLL's Denver Outlaws.[36][37][38] The Maryland Whipsnakes are the most successful franchise, having won two championships and finished runners-up once.[39][40] The Archers, Chaos and Waterdogs have each won one championship.[40][41] The Redwoods finished runners-up once, while neither the Atlas, Cannons or Outlaws have yet appeared in a PLL Championship game.

A college draft is held prior to the season each year, in addition to expansion drafts when necessary. The college draft order is determined via regular season standings with the team that was in last place the previous season receiving the number one overall pick. As of 2023, the each PLL team has a salary cap of $735,000 which they must allocate at least 98% of each year, The minimum salary for each player is $25,000, this leaves around $100,000 to be allocated by each team over the minimum. [42] The average PLL salary has been estimated at $28,000, although the league itself does not release the number.[43] All players selected in the PLL college draft are given three-year contracts, all but the top-four selections are given $25,000. The first overall pick receives $30,000, second overall receives $28,500, third overall receives $27,500, and fourth overall receives $26,000.[42] Prior to the beginning of the season the PLL hosts a "training-camp" where each team begins with a 30-man roster. By the end of training camp each team is required to have a 25-man roster. Training camp consists of individual and multi-team practices, as well as scrimmages between the teams.[44]

The first free agency period for the PLL took place prior to the 2023 PLL season from March 6, 2023 to April 1, 2023.[45] Following the PLL season, players are given the opportunity to opt out of their current contract if they were on the active roster (21-man roster) for less than 30% of games the previous season. If that player does not sign with another club by the end of the free agency period, they return to their original team.[46] If a player has not appeared on a team's 21-man active roster for three consecutive weeks the player was eligible to play, the player may be claimed by any team.[47] When a player is released by their club, they enter the player pool; other teams will have one week to claim the player before the player enters free agency.[48]

Overview of Premier Lacrosse League teams
Conf. Team Location Stadium Seats[a] Joined Championships
Eastern Boston Cannons Boston, MA Harvard Stadium 25,000 2021 0
Maryland Whipsnakes Baltimore, MD Homewood Field 8,500 2019 2 (2019, 2020)
New York Atlas Albany, NY Casey Stadium 8,500 2019 0
Philadelphia Waterdogs Villanova, PA Villanova Stadium 12,500 2020 1 (2022)
Western California Redwoods San Diego, CA Torero Stadium 6,000 2019 0
Carolina Chaos Charlotte, NC American Legion Memorial Stadium 10,500 2019 1 (2021)
Denver Outlaws Denver, CO Barton Stadium 3,117 2019 0
Utah Archers Herriman, UT Zions Bank Stadium 5,000 2019 1 (2023)
  1. ^ Standard reduced capacity; can be increased

Timeline

Venues[edit]

From 2019 to 2024, the league used a touring model only spending a week in each city. In 2020, the entire original schedule was scrapped due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the season was then restructured to have every game take place at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah.[49] The PLL will be assigning home cities to teams beginning with the 2024 season.[50]

2019–2024 Premier Lacrosse League touring venues
Stadium Games held Seasons used Capacity Opened City
Zions Bank Stadium 32 2020, 2022, 2023, 2024 5,000 2018 Herriman, UT
Tom & Mary Casey Stadium 21 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 8,500 2013 Albany, NY
Homewood Field 20 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 8,500 1906 Baltimore, MD
TCO Stadium 17 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 6,000 2018 Eagan, MN
Barton Stadium 12 2020, 2022, 2023, 2024 2,000 2005 Denver, CO
Gillette Stadium 12 2019, 2020 , 2021, 2022, 2023 65,878 2002 Foxborough, MA
Rafferty Stadium 12 2022, 2023, 2024 3,500 2014 Fairfield, CT
Shuart Stadium 11 2021, 2022, 2023 11,929 1963 Hempstead, NY
American Legion Memorial Stadium 9 2022, 2023, 2024 10,500 1936 Charlotte, NC
Ford Center at The Star 8 2020, 2022, 2023 12,000 2016 Frisco, TX
Audi Field 6 2019, 2021, 2022, 2022 20,000 2018 Washington, DC
Fifth Third Bank Stadium 5 2020, 2021 8,318 2010 Kennesaw, GA
Pay Pal Park 5 2019, 2021 18,000 2015 San Jose, CA
Red Bull Arena 5 2019 25,000 2010 Harrison, NJ
Subaru Park 5 2019, 2021, 2022, 2023 18,500 2010 Chester, PA
Weidner Field 5 2021 8,000 2021 Colorado Springs, CO
Tacoma Dome 4 2022 21,000 1983 Tacoma, WA
OSU Lacrosse Stadium 4 2023 2,500 2023 Columbus, OH
Cheney Stadium 4 2023 6,500 1960 Tacoma, WA
Harvard Stadium 4 2024 25,000 1903 Boston, MA
Torero Stadium 4 2024 6,000 1961 San Diego, CA
Villanova Stadium 4 2024 12,500 1927 Villanova, PA
SeatGeek Stadium 3 2019 20,000 2006 Bridgeview, IL
Georgia State Stadium 3 2019 24,333 2017 Atlanta, GA
Dick's Sporting Goods Park 3 2019 18,061 2007 Commerce City, CO
Tim Hortons Field 3 2019 22,218 2014 Hamilton, ON
Mapfre Stadium 3 2019 19,968 1999 Columbus, OH
Rio Tinto Stadium 3 2020, 2021 20,213 2008 Sandy, UT
Dr. Mark & Cindy Lynn Stadium 2 2023, 2024 5,300 2014 Louisville, KY
Banc of California Stadium 1 2019 22,000 2018 Los Angeles, CA
Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium 0 2020 12,300 2002 Stony Brook, NY
Orange County Great Park 0 2020 5,500 2007 Irvine, CA
Providence Park 0 2020 25,218 1926 Portland, OR
WakeMed Soccer Park 0 2020 10,000 2002 Cary, NC

Seasons[edit]

Season Championship game
  • Regular season
  • leaders
Champions Score Runner-up
2019 Whipsnakes 12–11 (OT) Redwoods Chaos
2020 Whipsnakes 12–6 Chaos Whipsnakes
2021 Chaos 14–9 Whipsnakes Waterdogs
2022 Waterdogs 11–9 Chaos Whipsnakes
2023 Archers 15–14 Waterdogs Archers

Accolades[edit]

On February 15, 2022, the Premier Lacrosse League announced the inaugural class of the Professional Lacrosse Hall of Fame. In order to be eligible for selection, a player must:[51]

  • Be retired from professional play for at least three years
  • Have played five seasons in MLL/PLL
  • Be nominated by a member of the Hall of Fame committee and receive a 75 percent majority vote

Up until the creation of the Professional Lacrosse Hall of Fame there was no Hall of Fame for exclusively professional field lacrosse players.[52] In February, 2023 Ryan Boyle was announced as the first member of the 2023 class.[53] The remainder of the 2023 class was announced on March 23, 2023. [54]

Marketing[edit]

The league's media model radically differs from that of most North American professional sports leagues. A 2018 Sports Illustrated story on the then-prospective league pointed out that LeBron James' Instagram account "features virtually no clips of him playing basketball—those are the property of the NBA, meaning its owners." By contrast, the PLL open-sources its highlights, allowing players to freely use them to build their own personal brands. Additionally, PLL operates a full-time studio that produces other player-centered content.[55]

Broadcasting and sponsorship[edit]

Matches broadcast on U.S. television
Season NBC NBCSN ABC ESPN ESPN2 Total
2019 3 16 19/38
2020 4 13 17/20
2021 4 17 21/42
2022 3 3 6 12/47
2023 8 2 6 16/47

The Premier Lacrosse League was broadcast by NBCUniversal between 2019 and 2021, with select matches, including the All-Star Game and playoffs, airing on their NBC and NBCSN television networks. All matches were streamed on NBC Sports Gold, and later Peacock.[56][57][58] Paul Burmeister served as the host during gameday broadcasts,[59] while commentary was provided by Ryan Boyle and Brendan Burke.[60][61] NBCUniversal's broadcasts made use of skycams, shot speed sensors provided by SMT, and microphones that facilitated conversations between players and the commentary team during matches.[62][63] From 2022 to 2025, the league is broadcast by The Walt Disney Company, with select games airing on their ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2 television networks, and all games streaming on ESPN+.[64][65]

Champion manufactures jerseys and footwear for the league's teams,[66][67] while Cascade Lacrosse provides helmets and STX provides additional equipment.[68] The league's primary ticket outlet is Ticketmaster, who also hold the league's naming rights as the Premier Lacrosse League Powered by Ticketmaster.[69] Vail Health’s Howard Head Sports Medicine provides physical therapy services to athletes,[70] while The Steadman Clinic provides healthcare and orthopedic services.[71] In addition, Gatorade,[72] Progressive,[73] the Athletic Brewing Company,[74] VukGripz,[75] Cash App,[76] and Charlotte's Web have sponsored the league.[77]

Sixes tournament[edit]

On December 12, 2022, the PLL announced a new mini event, the 2023 Championship Series, which took place in late February 2023 at The St. James indoor stadium in Springfield, Virginia. The 2023 Championship Series featured the top four teams from the 2022 season. Those being: Whipsnakes LC, Chrome LC, Archers LC, and Atlas LC. They played with 12-man rosters (10 position players and 2 goalies) using modified lacrosse sixes rules. Each team played three round-robin games from Wednesday, February 22 through Friday, February 24 to determine seeding for the semifinals on Saturday, February 25. The winners advanced to the PLL Championship Series game on Sunday, February 26.[78] The games were broadcast on ESPN2 and streaming on ESPN+ with the Championship game on ESPNU. The PLL Championship Series champions were Chrome LC who defeated the Atlas LC in the final 24–23.[79] Atlas midfielder Romar Dennis won the Golden Stick Award.

In November 2023, it was announced that the PLL would host another championship series in February 2024 also at The St. James indoor stadium in Springfield, Virginia.[80]

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  75. ^ PLL (March 16, 2022). "Premier Lacrosse League powered by Ticketmaster announces VukGripz as the Official Grip Tape Partner". Premier Lacrosse League. Retrieved August 4, 2023.
  76. ^ "Premier Lacrosse League Announces Partnership with Cash App". OurSports Central. June 3, 2022. Retrieved August 4, 2023.
  77. ^ PLL (July 11, 2023). "ReCreate by Charlotte's Web Named Official CBD of the Premier Lacrosse League". Premier Lacrosse League. Retrieved August 4, 2023.
  78. ^ "Championship Series 2023".
  79. ^ "Premier Lacrosse League Stats".
  80. ^ PLL (November 2, 2023). "Premier Lacrosse League Announces Venue, Dates for 2024 Championship Series". Premier Lacrosse League. Retrieved November 14, 2023.

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