On the latest Sporticast episode, hosts Scott Soshnick and Eben Novy-Williams chat with Nick Sakiewicz, commissioner of the National Lacrosse League, about the growth of the sport, the league’s expansion and its new Las Vegas franchise.
The NLL earlier this week announced its 15th club, co-owned by billionaire Joe Tsai, hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, NBA star Steve Nash and golfer Dustin Johnson. Sakiewicz, who was a longtime executive at multiple MLS clubs, called the announcement “our David Beckham moment,” a reference to the impact that the 2007 addition of David Beckham had on MLS (and soccer more broadly) in the U.S.
Participation in lacrosse has grown dramatically in the past decade, and a reshuffling of some pro circuits has left the NLL as North America’s main indoor league and the upstart Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) as its main outdoor league. To capitalize on that growth, the NLL has invested a lot of money to improve its live game production and social media efforts, Sakiewicz said. It is currently in the market for new broadcast deals, at a time when tech giants like Amazon and Facebook are looking increasingly at sports content, as are sports betting operators like FanDuel and DraftKings.
Sakiewicz also discusses the draw of Las Vegas as a pro sports town. Long considered off limits to pro leagues because of its proximity to gambling, Las Vegas now has NHL, NFL and NLL clubs, with MLB and MLS both considering adding teams.