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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Gait Lost Its Flow

I know, I know - Gait never had any flow to begin with. Seriously though, the highly anticipated Flow helmet has been shelved for now due to safety issues (kind of important with helmets I suppose). As result Gait's sponsored teams will be wearing Cascade Pro7s this spring instead.
The company is hopeful that the helmet can be tweaked and relaunched later this spring or at least in time for fall ball.
On a side note, Gait is yet another lax company to fall under new ownership. Along with the women's division, DeBeer, Gait Lacrosse is now controlled by Jarden Team Sports. A division of the larger Jarden Corporation, JTS operates such famous brands as Brass Eagle (paintball), Rawlings (baseball), Worth (softball), and K2 Sports (skis, snowboards).
STX and Maverik are now the only two of the big five lax-specific companies that remain independently owned; although STX has a very complex relationship with Nike. There are several smaller companies as well, but they make up a very small fraction of equipment sales. Brine and Warrior are both owned by New Balance. With Easton now in the game, it seems to be only a matter of time until STX becomes fully involved with Nike and Maverik is acquired by a larger company...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

MLL Expansion/Relocation Part 6

Since I was behind, I decided to cut the last post in half. The second portion is now Part 6. I decided against including two more teams in case I fall behind again.

2022 - The South Will Rise

1. (Atlanta) Georgia Bees - Atlanta was a tough team to name. I originally had the "Generals" name here before applying it to Dallas. The concept was a civil war theme given the city's importance during that time. But since our society is so quick to apply the racist label to anything relating to southern history, I moved on. That also knocked out "Confederates."

I stuck with "Copperheads" for a while but could not get a color scheme that was different enough from the Rattlers to work. Plus one snake team is enough. So I decided to look at state symbols.

Obviously "Peaches" was out. In honor of the nickname "Empire State of the South," I played with "Emperors" and "Imperials" but neither sounded right. Three of the four current major league teams in Atlanta have bird names, so that idea is played out. Looking over the list of state symbols, I finally found promise in its insect - the Honeybee.

Dropping the "honey" I decided I found a winner in Bees. The name connect with local Georgia Tech, provides a strong color scheme, and tons of logo potential. Although this is cool in its own right, the MLL team should go a bit less cartoonish.

Throughout the name debacle, I was struggling to find a good color scheme. When I think about expansion teams I try to make connections to the community. In this case I was looking at the major companies based in Atlanta - Home Depot, Delta Airlines, and Coke. Home Depot's orange never really fit with anything but possibly the Copperheads so I moved on. Like Dallas, the Atlanta Generals/Confederates would have been dressed in Delta's Red, Navy, and silver. Once I dropped that concept I moved on; plus those colors are overused as it is. Coke's red and black could work with pretty much any team name I could think of. As a result, red makes it onto the Bees' uniforms as a trim color. The teams primary colors would be athletic gold/yellow and black, of course.

The Bees would follow the trail blazed by previous expansion teams and set up shop in a soccer stadium. In this case they would use Remax Greater Atlanta Stadium, home of the Silverbacks (NASL) and Beat (WPS). The stadium currently holds 5,000 but is scheduled to expand to 15,000 within the next couple of years.

Atlanta was chosen primarily because of its status as a major sports city. With teams in all four major sports plus top flight women's' soccer and second division men's' soccer, many minor league teams, and major college athletics, the city is a proven winner. Holding many major corporations and experiencing impressive continual growth also make Atlanta extremely attractive.

With Mercer University adding NCAA Division 1 lacrosse next year the state has taken a major step towards increasing awareness. Four state universities also have MCLA programs - Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia State, and Georgia Southern; both Tech and State are in Atlanta. Other MCLA programs in Georgia include Reinhardt, Emory, and Kennesaw State. This translates into a population hungry for lacrosse at a high level.

2. Houston Hurricanes - Another team name that gave me headaches. Because of its "Space City USA" moniker - not mention the Astros and Rockets - I really wanted to give Houston a stellar name. I had "Spacemen" for a while, but that just sounded lame. Dredging through the city's sports past, I decided to resurrect the "Hurricanes" name from the 1978 NASL team. The name was most recently used by a short lived minor league soccer team. Generally I try to avoid names that were previously used by other sports, but "Hurricanes" works so well.

Furthering the soccer connection, the MLL Hurricanes would play in the planned Houston Dynamo Stadium. The 21,000 seat facility is expected to open in time for the 2012 MLS season. With its 35 suites and great location, the stadium will be a major success and has the potential to become the crown jewel of the MLL once the Hurricanes arrive.

Despite the strong applications of red and black in the league already, the Hurricanes will wear these colors to reflect hurricane warning flags (only in Miami are hurricanes orange and green, apparently). However, their primary color will be a light blue based on the Dynamo's "Space City Blue" to honor their shared stadium and to represent the calm skies before the storm. This also helps set the Hurricanes apart from other teams in the league (except Chicago).

Although neither the University of Houston nor Texas Southern have MCLA teams, Rice does. Nearly every major school in Texas has an MCLA program; there is a whole division named for Texas. Considering the number of campuses involved, there is definitely a demand for lax in the Lone Star State - enough demand for a second team.

Houston was chosen because of its size and accessibility. Its teams easily form strong and healthy rivalries with those in Dallas. Houston has a strong youth program, several competitive adult teams, and strong clubs in the state's high school league. All of this translates into a solid future for lax in Houston and demonstrates the city's worthiness for a professional team.

Western Division: Houston, Oregon, Minnesota, St. Louis, Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix, LA, Seattle, San Jose, and Denver
Eastern Division: Georgia, Charlotte, Detroit, New York, Long Island, Boston, Rochester, Toronto, Washington, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh

Continue to Part 7

Monday, January 25, 2010

MLL Expansion/Relocation Part 5

With the league now balanced, future expansion has to be carefully measured. An ignored consequence of adding more teams to the league is the heavier schedule. With a mere 6 teams at the current moment, each team plays 12 games. This creates a lopsided schedule; with expansion and better conference alignments must come a change to the schedule. At this time I am not going to "fix" that issue. Instead, let's continue on our expansion journey, shall we?
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

2020 - Roses to the Queen

1. Charlotte Kings - With two NCAA powerhouses - Duke and UNC - in state, adding an MLL team is a no brainer. Even though the college teams are in the eastern part of the state, Charlotte was chosen because of its sports history. With teams in the NFL and NBA, Charlotte seems to be a better suited for lax than the Raleigh-Durham area, despite their NHL presence. Its location is fairly central to the region which makes it a great destination city for sports fans.

The male royalty is applied even though Charlotte is the "Queen City." The name is simple and easily cheered. Vegas gold will be a highly used secondary on the team's purple uniforms. Carolina blue will be used sparingly as an accent color.

The Kings will play in the main stadium located at the Matthews Sports Complex which will not only be completed, but also expanded at that time. Currently slated to seat around 2700, it is foreseeable that the capacity will be around 8,000 or more within the next decade. With soccer and lacrosse figuring heavily into the stadium's design, MSC will be a great venue.

2. (Portland) Oregon Killer Whales - Although they lost the Lumberjax, the people of Portland are into lax. Had the economy not turned sour, the plaid jerseys of the Jax would still fill the Rose Garden Arena. Overall, the city is very passionate about its sports which led to an MLS expansion franchise over much larger contenders like St. Louis, Altanta, and Miami. Another Major League team would benefit from the under served metro.

Like the Timbers, the Whales would play in the renovated PGE Park. Once completed, the renovated former baseball stadium will be a 17,000 soccer stadium. It is in a great location and will lead to a great lax atmosphere.

Also like the Timbers, the Whales will have an instant rival in Seattle. This rivalry partially inspired the team's nickname. As seas lions are favorite prey of the Killer Whale, fans in Portland will have an easy time rallying behind the team. Granted, Portland is not on the coast, but its location in the Pacific Northwest should be sufficient to make the connection. The Killer Whales will wear Black and white as a primary colors. Accent colors include yellow and red.

The biggest danger with this name is the logo design. It is far too easy to come across as either cartoonish or gruesome. Finding the balance between family-friendly and fierce will be tricky. It is also possible that the "Killer" could be dropped or that the team would choose "Portland Orcas" instead.

The league now has two divisions with ten teams each.

  1. Western Division: Oregon, Minnesota, St. Louis, Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix, LA, Seattle, San Jose, and Denver
  2. Eastern Division: Charlotte, Detroit, New York, Long Island, Boston, Rochester, Toronto, Washington, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh

Continue to Part 6

Tribe 7