LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Las Vegas is getting a professional lacrosse team.
The National Lacrosse League, or NLL, sent out a tweet on Wednesday confirming the announcement.
— NLL (@NLL) May 26, 2021
The league also said more information will be released in the coming months.
The new owner, Joe Tsai, is a Taiwanese billionaire with significant sports experience.
Tsai is the current owner of the NBA Brooklyn Nets as well as ownership stakes in the W-NBA New York Liberty, NBA G-league and the National Lacrosse League's San Diego Seals.
The NLL is comprised of 14 teams in the United States and Canada.
The new, currently unnamed team, will become the 15th expansion organization in Las Vegas.
The current Lacrosse landscape is small in Nevada but there is major potential for growth.
"It is not big and it's a very niche market," said Max Schmidt, who founded Lacrosse Force in 2014.
"It's very small currently, that's why we're so excited about the NLL coming into Vegas because we know that high tides raise all boats, we're going to get more kids playing the sport because there is a professional sport for them to see," said Schmidt.
Schmidt says the organization focuses on developing players beginning around 5th grade.
The sport is not sanctioned in Nevada, which means most schools do not recognize teams but rather club organizations.
Bishop Gorman and Faith Lutheran both have organized teams, however.
“Currently, the sport, I would say, needs some type of push forward and this is just what could do it," explained Schmidt.
Schmidt adds the recent success of the Vegas Golden Knights and the team's impact on interest and involvement with the community could mean a professional lacrosse team could catapult local interest.
“We are very excited, as you know, with the success of the Golden Knights had in year one, that’s not normal, but what was great, we saw was just the influx of hockey fans in general when the Knights came to Vegas and we hope that has a similar effect with the NLL coming to Vegas," added Schmidt.
There are several unanswered questions still lingering, including where the team may play.
“The game is played on a similar arena like a basketball or a hockey arena, there is kind of endless options to where this could be held," explained Schmidt.
Schmidt says the professionals play indoors in five-on-five with goalies.
A shot clock, similar to basketball, keeps the pace extremely fast.
"It’s a very high-scoring game, contact driven, there’s contact allowed on the ball and off the ball, within reason, much like hockey, fighting is allowed, I think that draws a lot of fans," said Schmidt.
Schmidt says a typical NLL game will have more goals than a traditional hockey game.
"We're on the doorstep of something really big," said Nate Peterson, a Lacrosse organizer at Pinecrest Academy in Henderson.
"I've lived in Las Vegas for almost 20 years and I've watched [the city] grow, the grass we're standing on right now was dirt two years ago and now we're out here playing lacrosse," added Peterson.
Peterson's son Ryland, 11, is a goalie.
“What we’re learning is, when the kids get on the field and they get a stick in their hand and they give it a try they don’t wanna put it down it’s almost like they’re instantly hooked," said Peterson.
Peterson says the interest in lacrosse has grown tremendously and hopes it continues.
"Last year, we had the San Diego Seals here in town, there was a lot of people that got exposed to the sport at the Orleans and we had kids that went out and checked out the sport and the next thing you know, the phone is ringing and we’re getting kids in the door that have been exposed to the game finally for the first time," said Peterson.
The new Las Vegas team is expected to be ready to play in the 2022 season.