Professional indoor lacrosse is coming to Long Island.
A Long Island/New York City franchise will be the 13th team to join the National Lacrosse League, the league announced Tuesday at a press conference in Manhattan at B/R Live, the league’s broadcast partner.
The new team, which doesn’t have a name yet, will begin play in December 2019, with its home games at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum.
“We’re working hard on creating a name, branding, logo,” said Gary Fuhrman, managing partner of GF Capital and board member of GF Sports, the ownership group of the new franchise. “I think by early 2019 we’re going to have an event at the Coliseum to launch that.”
The team already has launched a team name survey on its website for fans to participate in.
NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz said they had “a half a dozen people raise their hand in this marketplace wanting this team,” but ultimately decided on GF Capital because of the three criteria he has for expansion: “The right owner, the right building and the right marketplace.”
“We need to have a flagship team — no pressure, guys — but we need to have a very successful team here in New York,” Sakiewicz said, addressing the ownership group. “It’s the sports and entertainment capital of the world. I know I’m going to get criticized for saying that, but it is. And we needed to be here.”
Long Island already has a professional field lacrosse team in Major League Lacrosse’s Lizards, which plays its home games at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium. MLL announced in October that its 2019 schedule will start after Memorial Day instead of in April in an effort to accommodate players involved with NCAA lacrosse, which holds its Final Four on Memorial Day weekend.
Sakiewicz said he doesn’t see the Lizards and the new Long Island team competing for fanbases because the two teams complement one another with bookended schedules — the MLL season starts after the NLL season ends.
The average attendance for NLL games last season was just over 11,000 per game, according to Sakiewicz. Nassau Coliseum’s capacity for hockey, which will be the same for lacrosse, is 13,900.
“We haven’t modeled up any numbers for the owners yet, but I think just intuitively, we’re very excited about it,” BSE Global CEO Brett Yormark said. BSE Global operates the Coliseum. “We think it’ll do extremely well. The Long Island Nets do very well at the Coliseum, and we’d expect to do it equally as well with the NLL, if not more so. We also think that the synergies between the NLL team and the NHL will afford us some great cross marketing opportunities. You’re seeing that around the league right now. So we think attendance is going to be pretty robust.”