The Premier Lacrosse League just wrapped up their quarterfinal playoffs weekend at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. While sitting in the second row of section 107 on Labor Day, I thought of four reasons why the PLL will continue to popularize professional lacrosse in America. The final game saw the Cannons defeating the Atlas. You may remember the Cannons from when they were the “Boston Cannons” in Major League Lacrosse.

The Cannons are the only PLL club that migrated over from the MLL.  This merger occurred in late 2020. PLL Co-Founder Paul Rabil (who is the most well-known lacrosse name in the country) was a Cannons player from 2008 – 2014. He also finished his career in the PLL, playing for one year on the Cannons.

Now, the PLL is winding down its fifth season. They have a mainstream distribution partnership with ESPN. Champion makes their popular merchandise. Furthermore, they are focusing on the little things each year to make the necessary steps to grow the sport.

It’s All About The Youth

I attended a few different PLL events last season. While my kids and I certainly enjoyed the experience, I was surprised that the league did not leverage the popularity of local youth programs in each state. This year, my son’s club program was quickly offered the opportunity to attend the playoff round via a group rate. Upon roaming the stadium, I noticed many of his club-mates as they all opted to wear their team shorts or shirt. This is a simple (but super-impactful) win. In addition, the PLL offered a clinic prior to the playoff games, where three players from there pro teams would come out and teach kids for an hour. They would conclude the session by signing autographs and taking pictures. Resonating with the youth of today will be key to bringing the sport to a wider fanbase in the decades to come.

  • The Player Access

    Let’s be clear on something, these are the best lacrosse players in the country. Most of them were drafted into this professional league straight out of major division one college programs. After every game, kids swarm down the ailes and into the front rows of the stadium. The players then make their way over and sign as many autographs as possible. Given this past weekend was the playoffs, many players on the losing team also gave away their gear. Jerseys and gloves were thrown into the stands. Some players went as far as signing their sticks or stick heads, and then giving it to one lucky fan. These are memorable moments (and memorabilia items) every young sports fan cherishes forever.
    A young fan gets a PLL players pro lacrosse stick after a playoff game. He is smiling holding the stick.

  • The Gear

    There are eight different teams in the PLL. Each of them is uniquely branded and named. In addition, they each have engaging color schemes and logos that get frequent updates. From the retro jersey games, to the alternate uniforms, the Premier Lacrosse League has done an excellent job keeping their merch interesting – and collectible. You can customize the jersey you buy or select your favorite player to support. Of the eight teams, none of their nicknames are seen in any other professional sport. You can order it via their website or at pick it up at the merch booths at games.

    A young lacrosse fan wearing a Whipsnakes jersey holding a stick in front of the Cannons backdrop.

  • The Exciting Play

    Sure, a nail-biter of a game is preferred, but even a blowout features constant can’t miss plays. On Labor Day, Wes Berg of the Redwoods hit a no-look, behind the back goal that was simply jaw-dropping. In youth lacrosse, the male players wear helmets, elbow pads, gloves, and a chest protector. At the pro level, the chest protector is typically eliminated from the gear, making the way these athletes control their bodies even more impressive. The competition is fierce, and you are quickly reminded that you are witnessing professional athletes mastering their craft.

     

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  • The Home Cities

    The league clearly has a multi-year plan. You can see them following a “trust the process” philosophy at its working. Each season you see improved little things that make a big difference. For example, the tailgating fan zone was a lacrosse players dream this year. Gear was on display, dunk tanks, and partners demonstrated the latest technology the sport has to offer. The next phase of the PLL is that they will assign home cities to each of the eight teams next season. Although, they will continue the traveling tour model (for now) the anticipation is building as to which cities in the country will be awarded a pro team. A fan vote will help determine which of the 26 finalists will be the home cities. This should then generate an entirely new opportunity to launch more gear.

     

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