Recently, I wished the Albany Attack, a defunct National Lacrosse League team, might get a second lease on life. But that's highly unlikely. New York's capital hasn't been mentioned at all in rumors about possible NLL expansion in the coming years. According to Sports Business Daily, the league plans to add three new clubs in its next growth spurt. Fans discovered the NLL trademarked the terms “Boston Shamrocks” and “Halifax Privateers.” Presumably those are two of the teams. What's the third?
Billionaire Joe Tsai, who recently purchased 49 percent of the Brooklyn Nets and has the future right to buy a controlling interest, has frequently been mentioned as a possible owner of a box-lacrosse club based in the New York City area. He's a fan of the game, having played the field version of the sport at Yale. And while he already possesses an NLL team in the San Diego Seals, who will compete in their inaugural season this year, the league changed its rules to allow an individual or group to own multiple clubs.
On the Addicted to Lacrosse podcast, Graeme Perrow expressed qualms about the rule change. "The [Buffalo] Bandits are doing great in attendance right now, but they haven't had much success on the floor in the last couple of years," he said. "The [Rochester] Knighthawks are the other way around." Shared ownership could lead to shady maneuvering. "The Bandits trade Dhane Smith to the Knighthawks for draft picks," Perrow hypothesized. "This is not something that would ever happen with separate owners. Because why would the Bandits do such a thing? But they might trade him to the Knighthawks because he's a really exciting player to watch."
I'm sympathetic to this fear, but ultimately willing to sacrifice a bit of competitive integrity for a larger, more stable league. Let's be honest: there are more defunct NLL teams than active ones. Why should fans invest themselves emotionally and financially into expansion clubs, when the odds are they’ll move or fold in a few years? If Tsai—or some other wealthy person with a soft spot for lacrosse—is willing to support multiple teams until the league achieves greater success, I say let him. As it stands, NLL ownership clearly isn't the best business proposition.
New York has previously boasted two clubs. The New York Saints were active from 1989 to 2003, and the New York Titans played from 2006 to 2009. I like the idea of reviving one of these fallen franchises, particularly the latter. After all, the Titans was the former namesake of the New York Jets. And players for the lacrosse club were outfitted in orange and blue—linking them to the New York Islanders, the New York Mets and the New York Knicks. Perhaps the last one would be a problem for the Nets owner.
But here's hoping that sometime soon, league commissioner Nick Sakiewicz announces the New York Titans will be an expansion team in the 2019-2020 season. I'd love to add one of their jerseys to my growing wardrobe of Knicks merchandise.