The economy has caused havoc on many sports leagues. The NBA, NFL and the WWE cut its staff. Major League Baseball instituted a salary freeze, a hiring freeze and cut its employees’ vacation time. And the Arena Football League canceled its entire season.
But the National Lacrosse League, whose season started up at the beginning of the year and runs through May, says everything is status quo, despite its Chicago franchise folding weeks before the season opened.
“Overall, we’re in a lot better position that some of these other leagues,” George Daniel, the league’s deputy commissioner and chief operating officer, told me. “We’ve always been a pretty lean operation. I mean, we only have seven people in front office.”
Daniel said he expects all the teams to play each of their 16 games and figures attendance will hover around the 10,000 fans per game mark, where it has been for the last five seasons.
Although Daniel admits signing new sponsors has been a challenge, he said “it has helped that we’ve always been a ticket sales driven league.”
The New York franchise, the Titans, has relocated its home base from Madison Square Garden to the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. Team president Aaron Jones said the move has enabled them to have more flexibility and to have more of a presence in promotion since the Prudential Center has fewer tenants than the “World’s Most Famous Arena.”
Jones said the average ticket price for the team’s seven home games is $39, but that everything is in the lower bowl so every seat is a close to the action. Despite getting acclimated to a new market, he’s confident the team can draw the 6,500 fans per game they drew last year in New York City.
While the NLL doesn’t have any television presence and many teams don’t have local radio deals, the league has been streaming all of its games online on its Web site.
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