Major League Lacrosse Folds Three Teams
Even though the calendar says today is April Fools’ Day, Major League Lacrosse wasn’t kidding around, as it announced that three of the league’s nine teams are folding.
The league, about to enter its 19th season, announced that the Charlotte Hounds, Ohio Machine and Florida Launch would not participate in the upcoming 2019 season. Charlotte is expected to resume operations in 2021 after its stadium undergoes renovations. Jim Davis owns all three of the contracted teams, in addition to the Dallas Rattlers.
Ohio, which has been an MLL member since 2012, announced in a statement that the news of contraction came as a “terrible surprise.”
This has been a rough offseason for the MLL, which is being threatened by the formation of the rival Premier Lacrosse League, a touring league that features over 140 former MLL players and which is armed with a national television deal. It is rumored that part of MLL’s franchise loss can be attributed to long-time league sponsor New Balance pulling back before the season.
In addition to announcing the contraction of the three franchises, the league announced that it had bought back its media rights, which had belonged to Lax Sports Network.
The MLL season is scheduled to being on May 31 and run through September. Team schedules will now have to be re-worked. The league had planned to play an extended schedule with increased player salaries as a response to the presence of the PLL. A redistribution for the players on the three affected teams will be held at the end of April.
Despite the folding of three franchises, the MLL announced in its press release that it is discussing expansion in established markets where it can get independent owners, with the eventual goal of creating eastern and western conferences.
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