New England becomes Albany. Now that the announcement makes it official, what next? The New England Blackwolves have played in Uncasville. Not the easiest place to traverse to. No local airport so, fly into Boston or New York and still endure a long ride to the Casino.
Upon departing Philadelphia, the Black Wolves were looked upon with scorn or adopted as your “new team” with Philadelphia ties being in the forefront. Going from a less than stellar win-loss record in Philly, New England has become a front runner to win a Championship. With that being said, the value of the club was probably at its peak financially.
To me, there is no doubt that Covid played a part in the sale. Playing in a casino certainly had its upside but, if consumers cannot frequent the Casino, the finances were all suddenly dried up. The Oliver Marti consortium enters the scene.
An apparently financially stable group who are committed to box lacrosse in Albany. We all know the idea failed in the past. Lack of a fan base and a less than committed ownership each played a part. The blueprint for expansion has been investment from an NHL or NBA entity that owns the building the team will play in. This is not earth-shattering information, it’s been common knowledge for a few years.
The caveat to the mindset is San Diego, Halifax, and New York and to an extent, Rochester. In Rochester, Curt Styres sold his interest to the Pegulas. And boom, New England becomes Albany.
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The Pegulas own several sports franchises, including the Buffalo Bandits. So, that is in line with the plan. Styres, probably grandfathered in, moves his interest to Halifax. A deep pocket lover of the Creator’s who, before the world stopped turning, found success in the new market.
San Diego, no NHL or NBA “official” ties but a billionaire owner why, like Styres, has an undying love of the game. Saskatchewan, albeit non-expansion, has been successful with billionaire money, NHL, or NBA backing. Quite the opposite. Legend has it the Rush left Edmonton because the Oilers wanted nothing to do with them.
Joe Tsai, the San Diego owner, also owns the Nassau Building which houses the New York Riptide… albeit Tsai is not listed as an owner but, his company is. Philadelphia thus far is the only team that fits the blueprint. Major big pocket owner in Comcast who also own the NHL Flyers and the Wells Fargo Center.
Down to Texas, we go. Once again, no NBA or NHL ties. This brings me to Albany. A relatively small population (by sports regard), a past failure. Again, no NHL or NBA connection. Attracting and keeping a fan base is tantamount to making this work.
Is Albany more attractive than Uncasville to lure a much-needed major broadcast package? The New England Season ticket holders are due for some type of refund for the loss of a partial season.
Another issue is player rights and contractual status. Will the league simply ignore the lost season on any one or two or even three-year deals? The impetus of teams signing single-year pacts is driven by expansion.
In a perfect world, all one-year deals would expire in June. That, in essence, means, New England or any team does not need to protect a player and, as a “free agent, he cannot be exposed to the draft. Let’s assume all contracts will transfer from the Black Wolves to Albany.
As we all know, the National Lacrosse is unique in its territoriality. Is it a hardship to now travel to Albany if you live and work in New England? Can said player petition the league to void his contract, or opt not to play to force a trade?
Oh to be a lawyer about now. When Rochester went to Halifax, Curt Styres held a preemptive “fire sale” and got value for players who were not interested in the transfer. This will not be the case with this deal… or will it?
New England Becomes Albany and more intrigue as we head out of winter. Pay no attention to that snow everywhere.