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Monday, February 1, 2010

MLL Expansion/Relocation Part 7

This will be the final leg of our expansion journey. The first leg took us to Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. Next came new cities Seattle and Dallas followed by a return to San Jose and Rochester. The third post brought the league back to Philadelphia and added a second team to New York. Then we traveled west through St. Louis to Phoenix, north to the Twin Cities, and back east to Detroit. Our next trip took us from Charlotte to Portland. Last time we headed south to Houston and Atlanta. The question now is "Where to next?"

2025 - From Sea to Shining Sea

1. San Diego Torpedoes - Perhaps the second strongest lax market in California, San Diego offers one of the best chances for year round play. San Diego is as close to a lock as you can get as evidenced by its steadily increasing number of high school laxers. With San Diego State, San Diego, and University of California San Diego all having MCLA teams, the metro has demonstrated a love of the game. As the fifth wealthiest city in the US, there should be little trouble finding an ownership group.

There are many locations that could potentially be used for Torpedo games. Leading candidates include Torero Stadium on the campus of the University of San Diego and Balboa Stadium. Built in 1914, Balboa is still heavily used. At one time the stadium sat 34,000 for Chargers games but the capacity has been significantly reduced in recent years. The track around the field also decreases the stadiums luster as it places fans further from the action. Torero currently seats 6,000 but could be expanded without much difficulty. The seats are closer to the field and offer a better view of the game.

San Diego is a major center of military operations including several Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard bases. This gave me lots of possibilities, but I really wanted to find something relatively unique. As an aviation fan, I was leaning towards "Hornets" and envisioning an F18 as the team's logo, but my practical side realized it would end up being an insect. Since we already have a Bee team, this was a no-go. In the end it came down to a choice between "Harriers" (too British), "Destroyers" (meaning the ship, but again it is really open), and "Torpedoes." Realizing that the name is very far removed from the rest of the league and applicable to San Diego.

The Torpedoes would be decked out primarily in Navy blue and white in honor of the Navy. Gold (athletic) and crimson would serve as accent colors in recollection of the city's flag. The team's uniforms should have a classic appearance and be subtly designed than many current MLL jerseys.

2. (Tampa) Florida Manatees - Florida is rapidly becoming the hottest lacrosse state in the nation. With the Titans leaving New York for Orlando and the debut of Jacksonville in the NCAA (D1), the demand will surely continue to grow. Nearly every major university in the state has an MCLA team, including Tampa's South Florida, St. Petersburg's Eckerd College, and the Central Florida Knights in nearby Orlando. The Miami Hurricanes, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Palm Beach Atlantic Sailfish, and North Florida Ospreys are also in the South Eastern Lacrosse Conference. Several of the teams have strong reputations; some have even made considerable noise about joining Jacksonville in the NCAA. Other Florida schools play in the NCAA D2: Florida Southern, Rollins, and St. Leo. This indicates a wealth of lacrosse talent in the state and an ever increasing demand for more lax.

With such a wide dispersal of lacrosse, it was difficult to pinpoint a specific city in such a large state. Given its strong history of sports fandom and fairly central location, Tampa seemed to make the most sense. Orlando is too much of a tourist destination (although that might prove interesting), Miami is too far south, and Jacksonville just is not big enough. My only major concern with Tampa is the sheer number of summer teams the Manatees will compete with. The city currently has: FC Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL), Tampa Bay Rays (MLB), Tampa Bay Storm (AF1), and three minor league baseball teams. Still, there seems to be enough interest in lax for a team to gain a strong following in the metro.

The Manatees will play their games at the proposed FC Tampa Bay Rowdies Stadium. Although no formal construction plans have been unveiled, the land is held by one of the team's owners and the stadium will be 100% privately funded; this should minimize delays that similar projects are subjected to. In case of issues with the planned field, the Manatees have the University of South Florida Soccer Stadium available as a back up. The field currently seats 4,000 but can be upgraded to triple or quadruple that amount with few problems. Should the school's MCLA team make the anticipated move to NCAA D1, the stadium will most likely be upgraded as Raymond James Stadium is very large and expensive.

The Manatee was chosen for its iconic relationship with the state of Florida (subspecies is identified as the "Florida Manatee). It is one of the state's official symbols and is know to live in and around Tampa Bay. Only the American Alligator and (maybe) the Florida Panther are more iconic representatives; both of them are already utilized with "Florida" (NCAA and NHL, respectively). Several minor league sports teams around the state have used the manatee as their mascot over the years; most are now defunct.

The team's colors will be Vegas gold, forest green, and navy blue. These colors reflect the hue of the animal's skin, the vegetation it feeds upon, and the water in which it lives, respectively. The colors also suggest continuity with the Rowdies, the University of South Florida, and to a lesser extent the Rays.

With the final number of 24 teams reached, the league is finally balanced and can easily be broken into four smaller divisions.
1. Northeast: Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Rochester, Boston, Long Island, & New York
2. South: Washington, Charlotte, Florida, Atlanta, Dallas, & Houston
3. Central: Toronto, Denver, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, & Minnesota
4. West: Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose, Seattle, & Portland

Poll Results

Tribe 7