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Thursday, March 4, 2010

MLL Expansion/Relocation - Realignment #4

The final leg of the MLL Expansion do-over is finally upon us! Part 1 saw few changes, Parts 2 & 3 saw some real movement. This edition sees two teams leave the West Coast and will feature newly configured divisions.

- Providence Quahogs: The Killer Whales leave the potentially strong Pacific NW rivalry with Seattle for what could be an even stronger relationship with Boston. Considering that metro currently hosts the minor leagues for two of Boston's most beloved teams, the Red Sox and Bruins, and Gillette Stadium is a mere 20 miles to the north (approximately the midpoint between the cities), this rivalry has the potential for some heated games. It is not hard to imagine hordes of fans travelling to the opposite stadium - or even "neutral site" games at Gilette.

The "Quahogs" name is derived from the state's official shell. Since Rhode Island is known as the "Ocean State," choosing an aquatic name seems extremely appropriate. The name is also culturally relevant as the characters on Family Guy reside in the fictional town of Quahog, RI.

Instead of throwing a giant clam on the team's helmet's, they would use a graphic derived from the state's flag (pictured). The Quahogs would wear navy blue and Columbia blue to represent the ocean. Athletic gold and white would be used to tie into the team's logo.

All three of the city's major universities play NCAA D1 lacrosse: Bryant, Brown, and Providence. Nearby University of Rhode Island fields a club team in the MCLA. As a result, the Quahogs can choose between a few facilities. Bryant Bulldogs Stadium shows a lot of promise but is limited by its 4400 seat capacity. There is room to expand the stadium, however. Brown Stadium's 20,000 capacity is ideal, but its seating style is less than favorable for lax. Other facilities on all three of the metro's campus would require significant expansion to host the MLL team.

-Des Moines Demons: I had to save the best for last!
Replacing the San Diego Torpedoes, the expansion team in Des Moines would adopt the Demons name and iconography. Designed by Dan Schuster of Design Trust, the Demons logo has become the de facto symbol for the Central Iowa Lacrosse Association. Should Des Moines land a professional team, CILA would glad hand over the name and logo. The MLL Demons would wear red, black, and athletic gold.

As you probably know, there is not exactly a plethora of suitable fields in the DM metro. The only field that springs to mind right away is Drake Stadium. Although the capacity is ideal at just under 15,000 seats, the blue track removes fans from the action and creates a major distraction. The horse shoe shape is also less than ideal for lacrosse. Parking near the stadium is not the best, but fair enough to meet the projected needs.

Once up on a time the Des Moines Menace were working to build their own stadium. Liberty Bank Stadium was designed to have a maximum seating capacity of 17,000 which would be perfect for a professional lacrosse team. The fans would sit closer to the action than at Drake and the venue would be more modern as well. With the Menace seemingly content at Valley and a shortage of land and funds, a Demons team playing at LBS is a pipe dream.

A third option would be Coach Cownie Stadium. Located on the south side of Des Moines, the Cownie Soccer complex is the home of both of the Drake Bulldogs soccer teams and the high school state soccer championship. Clinics and youth tournaments could be held at the remaining fields as the sport grows in Iowa to make Demons games an all day affair. The stadium currently seats 2000 and looks to be easily expanded triple that, possibly more. Upgraded locker facilities, additional restrooms, and possibly a second concession stand would be needed to accommodate the professional teams.The biggest issues (aside from the current lack of seating) all stem from its location. Cownie is very removed from all three major highways (I-35/80, I-235, and 65/5 bypass) on a two lane road. This road and the intersection at SE 14th would definitely need considerable upgrades at the minimum. There is also an active train track that crosses through the main gate to the parking lot. This could be a serious issue on game days. Most importantly, the stadium sits just a few hundred yards south of the Des Moines River. Being in a flood plain creates the hazard of losing the ability to host games. The entire complex was closed for a considerable amount of time in 2008 because of flooding. Still, Cownie provides the more intimate, up close atmosphere that suits lacrosse and may be a better option than Drake.

-Final MLL Divisions & Conferences-

Eastern Division
  • Empire: Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, Long Island

  • Northern: Boston, Providence, Toronto, Ottawa
  • Atlantic: Georgia, Carolina, Washington, Pittsburgh
Western Division
  • Pacific: Los Angeles, San Jose, Seattle, Las Vegas

  • Central: Denver, Minnesota, Chicago, Des Moines
  • Southern: Dallas, Oklahoma City, Florida, Jacksonville

The top two teams from each conference qualify for the playoffs. The seventh and eighth team overall from each division also qualify. The playoff system is seeded by division with the winners of each division meeting in the league championship. The playoffs are held over two weekends in up to five locations. The first two rounds of divisional play occur during the first week and the conference and league championships during the second. This system is carried over from the current weekend to keep the pro game similar to the college game.

Week 1, Day 1:

  • Site A - West #1 vs West #8, West #4 vs West #5

  • Site B - West #2 vs West #7, West #3 vs West #6
  • Site C - East #1 vs East #8, East #4 vs East #5
  • Site D - East #2 vs East #7, East #3 vs East #6

Week 1, Day 2:

  • Site A - Winner 1/8 vs Winner 4/5

  • Site B - Winner 2/7 vs Winner 3/6 3

  • Site C - Winner 1/8 vs Winner 4/5
  • Site D - Winner 2/7 vs Winner 3/6

Week 2, Day 1:

  • Western - Winner A vs Winner B, Eastern - Winner C vs Winner D

Week 2, Day 2:

  • Championship - Winner A/B vs Winner C/D

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