North American Lacrosse League will “give more American players the chance to play this great sport”

MLLer Peter Vlahakis was on hand during the North American Lacrosse League's press conference in New York City today.
MLLer Peter Vlahakis was on hand during the North American Lacrosse League's press conference in New York City today.

From Press Release

A new professional indoor lacrosse league was formally announced on Tuesday at a press conference held at The Ainsworth in New York City, with the North American Lacrosse League (NALL) now set to begin play in January of 2012. The league also officially introduced Phil Evans as its first-ever Commissioner, bringing a wealth of knowledge to the NALL after formerly serving as the President of the NBA D-League for a five-year term.

“I look forward to guiding this league through its inception and beyond,” Commissioner Evans stated. “We are very excited to start a new professional men’s indoor lacrosse league that we think will serve medium size markets throughout the United States and give more American players the chance to play this great sport. We have assembled great ownership groups already, and we look forward to announcing our teams and markets in the upcoming weeks. We currently have five cities ready to announce, but we may very well add one or two more prior to our cut-off date of June 15th.”

During the inaugural season of the NALL, teams will play a 12-game schedule, with additional exhibition games against international squads such as Team USA, Team Ireland and others. A key figure who is responsible for the formation of the NALL is sports entertainment lawyer Tony Caruso, who is a partner of Sills Cummis and Gross in Princeton, New Jersey.

”On behalf of the ownership groups in this league, I can tell you we put together a great foundation that will enable this league to grow,” Caruso remarked. “We did a national search for a Commissioner, and I think the owners could not have picked a more qualified individual than Phil Evans.”

Caruso also commented on what type of footprint he expects the NALL to make on the sports entertainment landscape.

“The North American Lacrosse League will spread across the United States in cities that will have great family entertainment,” he continued. “The formation of this league will enable people in those cities across the country to experience a great sport and have a pro team to call their own. I am excited to get this off the ground and continue as Legal Counsel for the league, working hand in hand with the Commissioner’s Office.” Caruso served as legal counsel for the National Lacrosse League for seven years.

Several members of the international community spoke on Tuesday, including US Indoor Lacrosse President Graham D’Alvia, who commented on the excitement of American players for the opportunity to play in the new league, as well as Barry Powless, on the importance of giving Native American players a chance to play professionally.

Other prominent figures who spoke include John Cavanaugh; the National Team Director of Ireland Lacrosse, and Mat Levine, President of CityLAX, a New York based non-profit using athletics to develop student-athletes in underserved communities.

Several professional players were present at the press conference, including four-time Major League Lacrosse (MLL) All-Star Stephen Berger.

“I am very excited to be involved with the North American Lacrosse League and welcome the chance to both play the game I love and learn more about box lacrosse. The leadership of this league shares my passion for growing the sport and I think bringing professional lacrosse to new markets is a great way to make that happen. I am also confident that playing in the NALL will help me continue to develop my skills for the outdoor game and give back to the game that has given me so much!”

MLL All-Star defenseman Steve Panarelli, currently a member of the Hamilton Nationals, was also on hand. The three-time All-American won a National Championship at Syracuse University and represented Team USA in last September’s Bowhunter Cup.

“I can’t wait for the league to start play,” added Panarelli, who has appeared in over 70 professional games in both the MLL and the National Lacrosse League (NLL). “The extra exposure for the sport is great. I’m hoping to play close to home so I can become a leader on the field and in the community.”

Two-time MLL All-Star Peter Vlahakis, currently a member of the Long Island Lizards, shared his sentiments.

“By playing in the MLL in the summer and the NALL in the winter, I’m becoming a full-time professional lacrosse player,” said Vlahakis, who holds several MLL records as the league’s top face-off man. “I’ve always wanted to play indoor lacrosse. A lot of players are excited for the opportunity to play year- round.”

University of Virginia All-American Johnny Christmas also joined the press conference. The MLL All-Star is currently a member of the Boston Cannons, and has over 90 career starts in the MLL and NLL.

An additional announcement made on Tuesday was the installment of Chip Saynte as the Chief Financial Officer of the NALL. Saynte served as the NLL Outside Financial Accountant for six years, and he now brings that longstanding experience to the NALL. Furthermore, Inside Lacrosse was also recognized as the first official media partner for the league.

“I think it’s great that the NALL is giving more American players additional opportunities to learn the indoor game,” said Inside Lacrosse Vice President/Editor-in-Chief John Jiloty. “More so, this new league will expose the sport to new audiences. So it will provide excellent content on ILIndoor.com and InsideLacrosse.com throughout the winter.”

Waterbucket Media, a sports marketing firm led by former National Lacrosse League Commissioner Jim Jennings, will handle the league’s sponsorships, public relations and expansion opportunities.

The corporate league office of the NALL is located at 36 Main Street in Somerville, New Jersey, and the league can be found online at www.NorthAmericanLacrosseLeague.com. The NALL is currently seeking investors who are interested in being part of the newly established league. For more information, call the North American Lacrosse League office at 646-926-1833.

The foremost boxla writer, Tutka is a former NLL scout and a longtime Inside Lacrosse contributor. Email him at paul.tutka@nllinsider.com.

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