The National Lacrosse League (NLL), the largest professional lacrosse league in the world, has awarded an expansion team to San Diego. The yet to be named team will begin to play in November 2018.
NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz and Steve Govett, President of the San Diego team, visited the NBC 7 studios Wednesday to talk about San Diego’s newest professional sports franchise.
“San Diego represents a great footprint for us. We’ve been predominantly a northwest league and coming out to San Diego, which is not only a great sports city, but geographically, it puts us in a great spot,” said Sakiewicz.
Founded in 1986, the NLL ranks third in average attendance in professional indoor sports worldwide. San Diego will be the tenth franchise in the NLL.
Sakiewicz predicted San Diego sports fans will find pro lacrosse to their liking.
“It’s the best kept secret in pro sports. It’s high scoring, hard hitting and fast action. It’s the fastest game on feet. We have world’s best lacrosse players...and they’ll be coming to San Diego to play.”
In game atmosphere is a huge focus of the league. Govett said fans would be totally engaged in the product from the games start to finish.
“From fireworks to motorcycles to hot tubs to dancers to an unbelieavble on-field product. It’s electric! We’ve taken all the best from football, soccer and basketball, and we’ve put them on steroids," Govett said.
The team is owned by Joe Tsai, the co-founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group. According to Forbes, Tsai has an estimated net worth of $8.9 billion. Tsai, who played college lacrosse at Yale, has many ties to San Diego, including a house in La Jolla.
Sakiewicz thinks the league has a winner with Tsai.
“It’s important to pick the right owner, with the right philosophy, the right humility and focus on the community. That’s really important because sports teams that come into city’s should be forever," Sakiewicz said.
He added: “The philosophy that Joe brings is this is a community team. Sports teams need to be centered in community and sports teams are forever if they do a good job centering themselves in community and being fan friendly."
The team will play its home games at the Valley View Casino Center. There has been speculation that Tsai will be building an arena in the downtown area’s east village. That venue would then house San Diego’s lacrosse team and be used to attract an NBA team.
Govett says right now that’s just speculation and not something Tsai is focusing on.
“The focus in on lacrosse, no focus on a building, no focus on the NBA, no focus on a new arena. We haven’t bought any land, we haven’t put one dime into a market study. We have no interest right now in pursuing a building.”
When pressed on the possibility of acquiring land or building a new arena in the future Govett said, “I think, yeah, anytime you would want to play in a new building, but the Valley View Casino Center is perfect for National Lacrosse League, it’s a perfect building, and we’re going to show people it’s a great place to be.”
Deposits for San Diego NLL season tickets are being accepted online.