Tired of millionaires fighting with billionaires, keeping your favorite athletes off the court or field? If you’re a basketball fan, get used to it. ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard reports that the NBA plans to cancel at least two more weeks of the season. Commissioner David Stern has already canceled the entire preseason and the first two weeks of the regular season.
The absence of an NBA season will leave basketball fans hungry for action. If the National Lacrosse League plays their cards right, then these fans could fall right into their lap.
The National Lacrosse League is a professional box lacrosse league, which is much different from the field lacrosse style of play. Games are played indoors, with the same boards and dimensions as a hockey rink. There are some obvious rule differences: goalies wear much more padding, the goals are smaller, long-poles are not allowed, and there is no offside. These minor differences create a much faster pace and a more physical game, which would make for a perfect substitute for the NBA.
As you may or may not know, Boston’s NLL team, the Blazers, have suspended operations for the 2012 season. Due to disagreements with the TD Garden, the team is in search for a new home facility for the 2013 season. After three years of success and a growing fan-base in Boston, the Blazers would have surely reaped the benefits of the looming NBA lockout.
Sadly for Boston, this winter will be nothing but an opportunity lost. For three years the Blazers brought nothing but excitement to the Garden – from the electrifying offensive skills of “Dangerous” Dan Dawson to the infamous chant of “Nice Save, Cosmo!” With the Boston Celtics missing time due to the NBA lockout and the defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins selling out the TD Garden every night, sports fans in Massachusetts could be looking elsewhere for action-packed entertainment. The Blazers could have cured this craving, but instead, they will be missing out on one of the best opportunities the league has seen.
The National Lacrosse League will count on the Colorado Mammoth, Minnesota Swarm, Philadelphia Wings and Toronto Rock to generate interest in the league. According to SportsBusiness Daily, the league averaged an attendance of 9,722 in 2011. Buffalo, Colorado and Toronto were the top three teams, each with significant increases from their respective 2010 campaigns. Boston, with an average attendance of 8,712, was fifth in the league and looking to continue growth after jumping 4.8% from 2009 to 2010.
It will be interesting to see if the attendance increases in those cities with NBA franchises – Colorado, Minnesota, Philadelphia, and Toronto. If the NBA cannot resolve its issues, then these cities will be full of sports fans looking for entertainment. Hopefully, for the sport of lacrosse’s sake, these franchises will capitalize in the upcoming season.
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