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Saturday, February 28, 2009

MLL - After the Economic Dust Settles Part 2

Phase 2
Once some capital has been put into the league, the number of teams needs to increase. Once again, the MLL should follow the Major League Soccer model of slow and controlled growth. Whereas the league originally added four teams in the "Westward Expansion" of 2006, this time around there should be no more than two teams added every two years. This allows the player pool to not experience significant drops in quality as the league grows. Although players from lesser known NCAA D1, D2, D3, and MCLA programs will still enter the league, teams will not solely depend on their "no names" to carry them through a season (however, I will discuss the player pool shortly).
Currently, four MLL franchises are dormant. These franchises will need to be reactivated before any "expansion" can begin. However the dormant franchises will most likely end up in more suitable markets (obviously some places work better than others). Based on the assumption that the economy will be more stable next year, we should see eight MLL teams on the field in 2010 and 10 by 2012. Two more teams should be added every other year after that; the league may find it more practical to add a team per year as MLS has done with Toronto, San Jose, Seattle, and Philadelphia.
To ease the cost of travel, the league would be realigned to ensure proximity. Divisions would be drawn up to coordinate efforts and build regional rivalries. While the league remains at ten teams or less, only four teams would make the playoffs which would still take place over a "championship weekend" at a predetermined neutral site.
As the league expands, the playoff picture expands. Twelve teams would see half of the league in the playoffs over two weekends at three different neutral sites. The second and third team from each division play on Saturday to advance to the division championship on Sunday against the number one team. The winners of the Sunday game play each other a week later at a third site for the league championship. Sixteen to eighteen teams see two playoff games (four teams each) per division with no first round bye. The league should not expand beyond 20 teams.
Once again, staying close to the MLS would be a good idea. Many of the teams have soccer specific stadiums which feature wider turfs and smaller capacities. Operating in the smaller venue is more economical as the rent, utility, maintenance, and staff costs are drastically reduced from NFL and NCAA football stadiums. In some cases the MLL team could be owned by or at least share staff with the local MLS club to save costs for both teams. Targeting some nontraditional cities may also help the league save money and increase their fan base. As would community involvement projects.
Eventually it would be good to break the league into four divisions with two conference playoff brackets. Each team would play its divisional opponents twice, all of its conference opponents once, and every team in a division in the opposing conference once each season. That makes a total of 18 game. I have included the likely expansion candidates and when they would join the league. My proposed organization looks like:
Eastern Conference
North /South
Boston /Washington
Long Island /Orlando (Barrage 2012)
Toronto /Atlanta (Exp 2014)
Montreal (Exp 2018) /Charlotte (Exp 2016)
Detroit (Exp 2022) /Miami (Exp 2020)
Western Conference
Midwest /Pacific
Chicago /Denver
St. Louis (Riptide 2010) /Portland (Pride 2010)
Dallas (Exp 2014) /Seattle (Dragons 2012)
Houston (Exp 2016) /San Jose (Exp 2018)
Kansas City (Exp 2020) /Salt Lake City (Exp 2022)

*6 -11 teams: Single table- one site; Day 1 = 1vs4 & 2vs3; Day 2 = winners for league championship
*12-15 teams: Two Conferences- three sites; Day 1 = EC2vsEC3 & WC2vsWC3; Day 2 = EC winner vs EC1 & WC winner vs WC1; Day 3 = EC champ vs WC champ for league championship
*16-20 teams: Two Conferences, four divisions - three sites; Day1 = North1vsEC4 & South1vsEC3 & Mid1vsWC4 & Pac1vsWC3; Day2 = N/EC winner vs S/EC winner & M/WC winner vs P/WC winner; Day 3 = EC champ vs WC champ for league championship

Chicago Example Schedules:
*2010 1. Den 2. at StL 3. at Por 4. Bos 5. Was 6. at LI 7. at Tor 8. StL 9. Por 10. at Den 11. at Bos 12. LI 13. Tor 14. at Was
*2014 1. Dal 2. at StL 3. Sea 4. at Den 5. at Por 6.Bos 7. at LI 8. at Tor 9. Orl 10. Atl 11. at Was 12. at Dal 13. StL 14. at Sea 15. Den 16. Por
*2020 1. at StL 2. KC 3. Dal 4. at Hou 5. at Por 6. Sea 7. SJ 8. at SLC 9. LI 10. Bos 11. at Det 12. at Mon 13. Tor 14. StL 15. at Dal 16. at KC 17. Hou 18. Den

Friday, February 27, 2009

No Lax on 2/28!!

Due to receiving only one response and the piss poor weather, I am canceling the toss around for Saturday 2/28. We'll try again next week.

Random Updates

1. I posted a poll yesterday about playing ultimate tomorrow. The high is 30 and it is supposed to snow. I'm willing to play if there are enough interested people (at least eight). As of right now, Caleb is the only person that expressed interest. Respond to the poll, comment, or email me if you want to play tomorrow. I need to know ASAP!
2. The Valley Tigers are having a scrimmage on the night of Wednesday, March 11 at 7:30. They will be under the lights at Valley Stadium to prepare them for their first game on Saturday, March 14 in Omaha.
3. There has been a change to Valley's schedule! We have gained another home game on May 9, 2009 against the River City Black Knights (Council Bluffs). Be sure to come out and watch Iowa's only high school lacrosse teams duke it out in the last game of the season!
4. Yesterday I posted part one of my thoughts on improving professional lacrosse (specifically the MLL) after the recession begins to clear up. I know I wrote about a similar topic before, but now I have a stronger and more specific direction based on press releases and whatnot. I have two more posts about this already in the pipeline and working on how I will wrap it up. Sometime in the near future I will examine how to make high school lacrosse more widespread in the Des Moines metro. If you have any topics that you would like to write about or would like me to cover, email me.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

MLL - After the Economic Dust Settles Part 1

Now that we have all accepted the smaller Major League Lacrosse structure for this summer, let's take a hopeful look to the near future. Keep in mind that this is all speculation; some of it is based on rumors and some of it based on hope.
Why the league will survive
The MLL will rebound with its current single entity business model. Essentially, the league's front office controls everything from player allocation to travel arrangements to salary caps. This model is currently is use by Major League Soccer and is rumored to be the business plan of the Arena Football League when it returns in 2010. The single entity plan strengthens the league as a whole by mimicking socialism and spreading the gains and losses evenly among the teams.
Phase 1
Bringing in new money is essential at this point. The league is operating on virtually no budget. It is basically a division of New Balance as evidenced by the restrictions on equipment, footwear, and uniforms. As such, it is limited in its capacity to grow. Two of the four teams axed this year (Barrage & Pride) were owned by the league; that is not too for success.
Adding additional team owners, each with a share of league ownership, will bring in some much needed capital. Realizing that many individuals and companies will be far more hesitant in the post recession environment, NB will have to take some untraveled roads to expansion. One of these roads will be opening up the league to other manufacturers. This does four things: 1. It lightens the economic load of NB providing all of the players' equipment. 2. It allows for more advertising money from other lacrosse companies. 3. It inspires other sports companies to get into lacrosse (even more ad dollars). 4. It paves the way for a truly professional league with real player salaries (as opposed to the $13k now). Getting owners into the MLL should be relatively easy considering current franchise fees are under $5 million compared to the relatively cheap $40 million MLS expansion fee.
What I am talking about is fairly radical in the world of pro sports, but common practice in soccer. The potential ranges from companies owning teams outright to being an "official supplier" to buying ad space on jerseys. MLS has increased its revenue significantly with its ad space sales (Xbox is paying $20 million over 5 years to be on Seattle's jerseys); why shouldn't the MLL tap into this market? The sale of the MetroStars to Red Bull brought in a new owner, a new stadium deal, and several million dollars of new money. They changed the name to "Red Bull New York" and improved the product on the field (2008 MLS Cup runners up).
If NB took the courageous first step of allowing Nike, Adidas, Champion, Monster Energy, Pepsi, etc. to buy a team, the league would benefit greatly. Do I think that "Team Nike," "Adidas Atlanta," or "Pepsi Charlotte" would be the ideal situation? Definitely not. I do think that letting these teams own the team, control their marketing, and brand them in the corporate colors may not be a bad idea. In the case of sports and apparel companies, putting the team in their branded uniforms and using their equipment would save NB a ton of money. In addition, letting endorsed players like Paul Rabil & Kyle Harrison use Maverik & Nike/STX gear, respectively, would raise the profile for those brands and increase ad revenue for the league.
New Balance bought Brine in 2006, but this press release from Brine in 2007 outlines what I envision a multiple supplier MLL could look like. The league & NB presented Brine's partnership as if it was an entirely seperate company. Four teams became "officially supplied" by Brine and any Brine endorsed players were also allowed to use Brine rather than Warrior equipment. Unendorsed players on Brine teams are only allowed to use Brine gear and unendorsed players on Warrior teams are only allowed to use Warrior gear (I am not sure how this will work in the six team league though). Expanding the field under similar restrictions to include STX, Reebok, Maverik, etc. just makes sense in 2010 and beyond.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Learn to Play Lacrosse

I wish I would have put this up before the Casey Powell series, but oh well. Here is a fairly decent video I found that introduces lacrosse to new players. Let me know what you think of it.

(From You Tube)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tips From Casey Powell

It's tricky to rock a rhyme to rock a rhyme that's right on time. It's tricky. It's also tricky to be an awesome stick handler. But Casey Powell knows how to make it look super easy.

(From You Tube)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Those Dirty Devils!!!!

It's not a huge secret that I pretty much despise the Duke Blue Devils. That is true in virtually every sport, but especially lacrosse. Having said that, I was not happy with the political corruption that resulted in a suspended season and missed opportunity for a national championship due to blatantly false accusations made by some one less than credible. I may cheer against Duke on the field, but I was supportive of their case (unlike their classmates and faculty). Politics, white guilt and racism lead to that ordeal becoming such a circus rather than being settled as complete BS from the get go.

But I digress...

With that unfortunate incident behind us, let us look at the 2009 Blue Devils team. Here we see attackman Max Quinzani cradling the ball in what appears to be an illegal pocket. If you look at the close up on the right, you will notice more than an inch of daylight between the bottom of his sidewall and the top of the ball.

In case you were unaware, the top of the ball must be even with or above the bottom of the sidewall. Most refs will let close pockets slide, but this pocket is definitely not close to being legal. This Dukie is straight up cheating and he probably knows it.

The good news is that the cheating did not help Duke this weekend. The (formerly) fifth ranked Blue Devils were upset on Saturday by the unranked Harvard Crimson 9-6. Just goes to show you that God hates devils, even blue ones - especially when they cheat!

Demons Logo Contest Reminder

Just as a reminder, the Des Moines Demons Logo contest is still going on. Submissions will be accepted through March 15, 2008. The entries will be displayed on the website with a brief write up about the artist once they are received. This is a great way to get your work published!
Check out the Demons' home page for more information!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Results of Sports Survey

Besides lacrosse, what other sports do you play or are you into?

Looks like Hockey is big winner with 87% of the votes.

Basketball took second with 36%.

Soccer, Football & Other came in third with 27%.

Looks like laxers hate pointless running and rolling around with other guys because Track/Cross Country and Wrestling got no votes.

Hmmm, wonder what "Other" is...
For me, it's tennis. Great at improving hand-eye coordination and foot speed. What about you? Comment below and share your passion.

*Multiple picks were allowed, so percentages reflect number of people who play sport out of the total number of votes.

Tribe 7