Premier Lacrosse League Set to Debut at Gillette Stadium
By Marisa Ingemi
FOXBORO -- New England is considered one of the strongest lacrosse markets in the United States, and the Premier Lacrosse League agrees.
The new pro lacrosse tour, which was started by Paul Rabil and migrates more than 100 former Major League Lacrosse players, will makes its debut at Gillette Stadium, the league announced Friday.
“New England is a fervent lacrosse community, and the attendance and energy at the Final Four the last two years helped reaffirm this decision,” Rabil said. “Gillette is a world-class venue that has shown a commitment to the sport of lacrosse, is well-equipped for broadcast television, and is an ideal setting to host a premium fan experience.”
Gillette has hosted the Final Four five times total along with a couple of other college games and for one season, Major League Lacrosse’s Boston Cannons.
The PLL opening weekend at Gillette will include two games on Saturday, June 1, and one on Sunday, June 2, between the six still unnamed teams.
The league -- unlike MLL, which is entering its 19th season -- will tour across the country for the summer, not to repeat any venues. There were 30 possible markets, and the league has yet to announce where the rest of the season will take it.
“When identifying where to play, our strategy was to optimize for event attendance, venue options, partnerships and sponsorship opportunities,” Rabil said. “With that in mind, we gathered data points that we viewed as being particularly relevant in achieving these goals. Specifically, we looked at TV ratings from lacrosse games, youth participation, U.S. Census data and presence of alternative professional sports teams. With this data in hand, we created a scorecard and ran many different weighting scenarios on the variables to sensitize our analysis. Boston stood out as one of the top markets throughout the process and across all variables considered.”
According to sources, there were some discussions about the league going to Fenway Park, but the PLL did not comment on that possibility.
“We explored a range of different options throughout New England, but ultimately Gillette stood out as the clear choice for where we wanted to begin this new era of lacrosse.”
There are plenty of lacrosse connections to Gillette Stadium and the New England Patriots; Pats wide receiver and former Penn State lacrosse player Chris Hogan is an investor in the league. Patriots coach Bill Belichick played and is a noted enthusiast of the sport, while two assistant coaches, Michael Pellegrino and Chris Mattes, are former professional players.
There’s no word yet if opening weekend will involve the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League -- entering its second season and its first partnered with the PLL -- or if any of the games will be a part of the three that will air nationally on NBC.
“When we combine the data with the passion and energy that New England has shown for lacrosse over the last decade -- particularly the last two years with the NCAA Final Four at Gillette -- it made for an easy decision,” Rabil said.