The National Lacrosse League (@NLL) today announced the city of Las Vegas has been awarded an expansion franchise and will become the NLL’s 15th team, beginning play in the Fall of 2022.
The new franchise will be co-owned by Wayne Gretzky, Dustin Johnson, Steve Nash, and Joe Tsai. Mark Fine has been named the Las Vegas team’s Chief Executive Officer.
The team will play at MGM Resorts International’s Michelob ULTRA Arena – located inside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino – beginning in the 2022-23 season. The arena is also home to the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces and has hosted high-profile events including various Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) events, the Latin GRAMMYs, the NHL Awards, the Latin Billboard Awards, the International Swimming League’s World Finals, and the Miss USA pageant.
The official announcement of the new franchise will be later today at a launch event held at Michelob ULTRA Arena at 1PM PT. The announcement will also be livestreamed on the team’s official website (accessible at www.lasvegaslacrosse.com).
The name, logo, and colors of the new Las Vegas team will be unveiled at a later date. The team is encouraging fans to help name the team via submissions on its website at www.lasvegaslacrosse.com.
Joint Statement from Team Ownership
“It is an honor and privilege to work together to bring the game of box lacrosse to the Las Vegas community. The people of Las Vegas have proven how passionate and supportive they are of professional sports franchises they can call their own. We look forward to making a difference here on the floor and in the community – and becoming a franchise that fans in Las Vegas will be truly proud to cheer for. Even though the team won’t start playing until late 2022, we want to involve the folks in Las Vegas from the very start as far as how we launch and grow our franchise, including in the selection of our team name. On the business side and across our franchise generally, we will also be forward-thinking and innovative, embracing best practices in analytics and technology across everything we do – and all while staying true to the fast-paced and exciting nature of both box lacrosse and the city of Las Vegas. We can’t wait to get started.”
Statement from NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz
“We are very proud to welcome Las Vegas NLL as our 15th franchise, led by an elite group of businesspeople and accomplished current and former athletes – most importantly great people in Joe, Wayne, Dustin, and Steve on the ownership level and Mark Fine leading business operations. It all started two years ago with a meeting and an idea and here we are today. When our industry looks back years from now on the growth of box lacrosse as a sport and Las Vegas as a home of a first-class franchise, we believe this will be one of the seminal days in NLL history. The people in this community are going to be in for a treat both on the floor and in the community.”
Statement from President and COO of Mandalay Bay and Luxor Chuck Bowling
“The National Lacrosse League will be a great addition to the destination and Mandalay Bay’s Michelob ULTRA Arena’s line-up of events. Las Vegas has proven itself a true professional sports town with the arrivals of the Vegas Golden Knights and the Las Vegas Raiders, and we’re certain locals and tourists will share that passion with our newest team.”
Team Ownership Biographies
Wayne Gretzky, often referred to as “The Great One,” played lacrosse as a kid growing up in Canada, and his late father has credited lacrosse for helping him become the NHL’s all-time leading scorer. Over a 20-year career as a player for the Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues, and New York Rangers, Gretzky won four Stanley Cup championships, was named league MVP nine times, was named to an All-NHL Team fifteen times, and holds numerous all-time NHL records. Following his illustrious playing career, Gretzky was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1999. Each spring in Las Vegas, Gretzky hosts the Wayne Gretzky Fantasy Camp, during which diehard hockey fans from around the world have a chance to play with a collection of NHL legends.
Dustin Johnson is the #1 ranked golfer in the world and has earned 24 PGA Tour and two international victories. Earlier this spring, he won the Masters Tournament held in Augusta, GA. Johnson has been a Team USA member four times in the Ryder Cup and three times in The Presidents Cup.
Steve Nash grew up in British Columbia where, as a young boy, he cheered for Kevin Alexander and the Victoria Shamrocks, a box lacrosse team that played in the then Western Lacrosse Association. Nash had a storied NBA career spanning eighteen seasons, during which he was named MVP twice, named to an All-NBA team seven times, and named to the All-Star team eight times. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018 and currently serves as the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.
Joe Tsai played lacrosse in high school at Lawrenceville and in college at Yale. Tsai is the governor of the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association and chairman of BSE Global, which includes the Brooklyn Nets, the team’s home arena Barclays Center, the Long Island Nets of the NBA G League and the Nets Gaming Crew of the NBA 2K League. Tsai is also the owner of the New York Liberty of the Women’s National Basketball Association and the San Diego Seals of the NLL. Tsai’s sports investments also include the Premier Lacrosse League and the Los Angeles FC of Major League Soccer. Tsai is one of the co-founders of Alibaba Group, a global Internet technology company based in China. He is a member of board of directors of the company and serves as executive vice chairman.