Sports Business: Discussing The Growth Of The MLL With Boston Cannons President Ian Frenette

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Boston Cannons President Ian Frenette speaks to members of the media during last month’s Boston Cannons Media Day. (PHOTO CREDIT: Reed Smith’s Photography

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports)

Boston Cannons President Ian Frenette is not only excited about his team’s upcoming season, but also the direction of Major League Lacrosse (MLL), too.

It is an exciting time for the league, which announced its second commissioner (Alexander P. “Sandy” Brown) in February.

Additionally, the league will have a new team this year competing in Dallas – it was announced last November that Rochester would move to Texas and play its games at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco (the Dallas Cowboys World Headquarters and practice facility). MLL held its championship game last season in Dallas where fans were treated to an exciting 17-12 victory by the Ohio Machine. It was the first-ever MLL crown for the Ohio franchise, which fell short to Denver in the 2016 championship game.

Following his team’s Media Day last month, Frenette spoke with Noontime Sports about the league’s growth, as well as his team playing games in Beverly, Massachusetts (Endicott College) and Hingham, Massachusetts (“Cannons in Your Community“) this spring and summer.

On growth of the Major League Lacrosse (MLL): I think we have some serious momentum right now. We have a new commissioner, who just started a little over two months ago. I think we are seeing the biggest growth in a team that is now in Dallas, which used to be in Rochester. It is too bad (they) had to leave Rochester, but to take a franchise and move it into a place like Dallas, which has a tremendous growth curve in the game of lacrosse right now is a great thing for the league’s brand.

I also think the leadership that is happening inside of all of these organizations – there are more (people) running these businesses that understand how to run professional teams. We have kind of gone into another phase, which is huge. I also believe that the players expect more out of themselves (because) they are improving their game (every day). You also see (the sport lending itself) to social media (with people like Paul) Rabil, who is helping raise that bar. Everyone else wants to follow in his footsteps, so they can (make and create content) of their own.

On seeing more teams in the Major League Lacrosse (MLL) in the future: Right now, we are in a huge expansion mode as far as researching what those markets look like – it is all about finding good owners and people who are willing to grow with the league. It is not an immediate thing. What was (highlighted in a New York Times piece on Major League Soccer last summer) was most of those MLS places (don’t) have their own stadiums, and we are starting to see that a little bit now in our league as well. Ohio has its own stadium and venue, and Dallas is obviously world class with the Jones family. Atlanta has a very good venue with Kennesaw State University – it is the right size, not too big and I think there are other organizations that are looking at their own (venues and stadiums. They are probably asking), “how do we get there?” Once that starts to happen then you will see the businesses start to flourish. You also will start to see more eyes – maybe non-lacrosse or not even sports-centered eyes on what those products are and what does that venue mean to the overall community. All those pieces are important to putting this puzzle together.

On ‘Cannons in Your Community’: This opportunity kind of fell in our lap and we thought (about) taking our brand into communities that we think would want us. We started with Hingham and they have been nothing, but gracious about every element of what our production looks like, but just knowing the significant lacrosse culture in that town (helped).

In Beverly, Endicott College is a great venue and certainly supports a bunch of surrounding towns that are very heavy lacrosse centric towns, as well. Who knows what this means for 2019 and future opportunities, but logistically, things will be a little bit different (than what fans are used to at Harvard Stadium), but we are excited about it. Those venues should be sold out, so we are pretty excited about (these opportunities to play in Beverly and Hingham).

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