Major League Lacrosse has announced that they will be reducing to six teams for the 2019 season, which will start on May 31st. The teams getting the axe are the Florida Launch, Charlotte Hounds, and Ohio Machine.
According to the league, this move was unanimously voted on by the owners and is part of the MLL’s plan to focus on growth in strategic markets with the intention of creating an Eastern and Western conference. This move now limits an owner to just a single team. The league has also reacquired all media rights in an effort to find a broadcast partner.
While these teams are folding for the 2019 season there are plans for returning the Charlotte Hounds in 2021 under new ownership after the constriction on American Legion Stadium has finished. According to the league, talks are underway for new owners starting in 2020.
The full Reasoning behind why the league chose to fold these three teams is unknown, but all three were primarily owned by New Balance founder Jim Davis. There are some problems that come out of folding these three teams. The biggest issue is with Ohio as Fortress Obetz was built with the Ohio Machine being the cornerstone of the project. In Florida’s situation, they went through a lot of trouble to get out of their contract with FAU and change venues.
Worst of all is the timing of this announcement, just about two months before the start of the 2019 season, after the collegiate draft and two supplemental drafts. Not to mention that the league already released the schedule months ago. But this timing is sadly not shocking as pro lacrosse has a long history of poorly timed announcements.
Obviously the MLL has had to revise their 2019 schedule to include just six teams and you can find that up on their website now. Players from the three folding teams will be put in a pool and the six teams can pick them up in a draft late this month.