Joe Tsai is going all in on professional lacrosse. According to an article on Sportico, the billionaire has reached an agreement to bring a National Lacrosse League franchise to Las Vegas, further solidifying the San Diego Seals owner and Premier Lacrosse League investor’s position in professional lacrosse.
The announcement comes just two years after the San Diego Seals played a “home” game against the Colorado Mammoth in the Sin City and is the fourth major NLL franchise news in as many months. After years of rumors, the news also confirms that Las Vegas will be home to the 15th NLL franchise, which will begin play during the 2022-23 NLL season.
“Joe has been nothing short of a spectacular investor in NLL,” NLL commissioner Nick Sakiewicz told Sportico. “We’re ecstatic Joe won the day.”
Sakiewicz told Sportico that Tsai beat out several other bidders to acquire the Las Vegas NLL expansion franchise, with an article from last year confirming that at least one of the other prospective owners was Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley. While the financial figures for the deal were not announced, Tsai confirmed with Sportico that the new NLL franchise’s “cost including the expansion fee and operational runway” was in line with the more than $10 million that the Priestner Sports Corporation paid to acquire the Saskatchewan Rush from former owner Bruce Urban.
Sakiewicz also confirmed that the league is “looking for a major media deal,” which is paramount for the long-term viability of a professional sports league.
“We can take the league to the next level in terms of national sponsorship,” Sakiewicz told Sportico. “Crypto, sports betting—there are a lot of commercial opportunities the league can expand into.”
The announcement is a pivotal one for the NLL, which will be returning to play this December after it’s longest layover in it’s 35 year history due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only has the league announced two new franchises during the pandemic, its franchise values have entered the $10+ million, which is a drastic improvement from the six figures it cost just a decade ago. It also shows continued, steady growth for a league that has gone from just nine teams in the 2017-18 season to now 15 with a 16th still believed to be on the way in the near future. Overall, the long-awaited arrival of the NLL in “Lax Vegas” is here and the league appears to be set up for a major comeback when teams return to the floor in December.
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