The National Lacrosse League has postponed the first two weeks of the regular season after failing to reach a new collective bargaining agreement with the players. In a statement, the NLL announced The PLPA (Professional Lacrosse Players Association) had instructed its players not to attend training camps or submit to physicals, making it impossible to start the season on December 1st. The league claims to have offered a deal which includes a 25% increase in salary and benefits for the players, among other incentives. Below is a statement from the PLPA. Canceling any part of the season was likely a worst case scenario for the league which has two new expansion teams and a new fan base ready to experience lacrosse for the first time this season. Expansion franchises are joining the league this season in Philadelphia and San Diego. The league says they will, “provide further communication on the 2018-19 schedule as updates become available”.
Here is the full statement from the NLL:
The National Lacrosse League (NLL) has been negotiating with the Professional Lacrosse Players Association (PLPA), which is the exclusive bargaining agent for our players. We have always comported ourselves in a professional, above board and good faith manner.
We must create a partnership for growth with the players, but we believe we must grow together with a strategy that fits within a reasonable business model. A guaranteed 400% increase in expenses without a corresponding guaranteed revenue increase is not something as stewards of the league we can responsibly agree to.
We have put a very good and fair offer on the table, which includes a 25% increase in salary and benefits for the players. It is a significant improvement from where the players were at the beginning of their last employment agreement and a testament to our ownership’s commitment to continue to invest heavily in our sport and grow the League.
In order to address the concerns expressed by our players that they not be left behind as the League grows, as well as our owners’ desire to share in lacrosse related revenues, including team generated revenues such as parking, food and beverage and merchandise concessions, the League has proposed a fair calculation of bonuses to be paid to the players. It is based on attendance growth plus a percentage increase each year to account for growth in all attendance related revenue streams. That, combined with the fact that the players already receive a percentage share of all League revenues including national sponsorships, television, expansion (which no other league shares with their players) and even payments for an All Star Game (regardless of whether an All Star game is even played), we believe the current offer on the table is extremely fair and generous, especially when one considers how far the League has come in the short 35 months since the owners invested in the League and brought in new management.
For the good of everyone including players, owners and our fans, we are attempting to run the League as a business so that its long-term health and success is assured. We have seen steady, but only incremental success. This nascent growth will only continue if ownership, management and players all work together to achieve it.
So, we must now come together. Ours is a long-term responsibility and task to make the National Lacrosse League the preeminent league of choice that will propel the world’s best lacrosse players to new levels of brand recognition and relevance. We, along with the players, have built a strong foundation to position the sport for continued success, but the work must continue in a realistic fashion. As stewards of the League, we must remain fiscally responsible and employ a business model focused on continued growth for the success of all involved, including the players today and the players in the future.
At this point, we are extremely disappointed that we have not reached a fair and equitable agreement for both the NLL and the players.
The PLPA has instructed its players not to attend training camps or submit to physicals. The players have in fact followed these instructions which has made it impossible for the teams to form rosters or otherwise operate. Therefore, we reluctantly have no choice except to cancel the first two weekends of the 2018-19 season, December 1 and December 8, 2018. We will provide any further communication on the 2018-19 schedule as updates become available.
We continue to be available and open to meet with the PLPA to resolve this issue in earnest and hope we can get back to playing lacrosse and providing you, the fans, the best entertainment experience in professional sports. Thank you for your patience.