On August 30th, 2017, the National Lacrosse League announced that it would grant Alibaba Billionaire Joseph Tsai an expansion team in the city of San Diego.
The National Lacrosse League is the third-largest indoor sports league in the United States, behind the NHL and the NBA, and is the premier lacrosse league in the world.
Following the announcement that San Diego would receive a new team, on October 24th, Tsai and his group announced that the team would be called the San Diego Seals and use the slogan “Surfacing Soon”. The Seals logo would be a purple, black, gold, and gray seal that is wearing a trident as a crown. The shield on the logo refers to a lacrosse stick, the gold the sunshine of San Diego, and the purple is the primary color of the Iroquois, where lacrosse primarily began.
The team name is meant to represent the mammals nearby in the marina, but also the thousands of Navy Seals stationed in San Diego.
The Seals will begin play in November of 2018 at the Valley View Casino Arena.
They will be a member of the West Division, which will give the National Lacrosse League ten teams for the first time since 2011. The schedule for the NLL is not grueling as it consists of 18 games- nine home games and nine away games, that are mostly played on weekends. At least 12 of the 18 regular season games will be played against divisional opponents.
When it comes to the postseason, the top three seeds in both the East and West division advance to the Champions Cup playoffs. The one seed from each division gets a first round bye, followed by the second seed hosting the third seed for a single-game elimination in their respective division. The winner will advance to play the one seed, from their division, in a semi-final match, which will then determine which two teams will play for the championship.
The NLL is like any other sports league in America: trades can be made, players are under contract, free agency exists, there is a draft, awards are given out at the end of the season… you get the point. However, since the Seals are an expansion team, there will be an expansion draft this year in order for them to get their players.
The NLL has not yet announced when the draft is going to be or what the rules are going to be, but the announcement is supposed to be coming shortly.
Attendance in the National Lacrosse League is quite good. On average, around 14,000-15,000 people attend an NLL game, but in bigger markets, that number is larger. To put this in perspective, the Tampa Bay Rays averaged 15,700 people attending their games in a sport that is much more popular than lacrosse. Merchandise is also a huge part on how NLL teams make their money. According to multiple beat writers for certain teams in the league, many fans support their teams by purchasing a ton of merchandise, giving the team a solid influx of money.
It will be interesting to see how the Seals acclimate to San Diego, as we are unsure how popular of a sport lacrosse is in America’s Finest City. The city and its residents should welcome the Seals with open arms as it is the newest thing in town. Supporting the Seals will only contribute directly to their success. Stay tuned for more coverage on San Diego’s newest team.