Posts for lacrosse

A Discussion with NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz on His Union Past and Lacrosse Future

Kevin Kinkead - September 19, 2017

Nick Sakiewicz never left town, he just changed jobs.

The former Philadelphia Union executive resurfaced as National Lacrosse League Commissioner last January following 21 seasons in Major League Soccer.

That was three months after his split with Union majority owner and principal investor Jay Sugarman. The pair brought soccer to Philadelphia in 2008, but parted ways at the end of 2015 when their relationship became strained following years of on-field struggles and disagreement on how to move the franchise forward.

For some of that time, Sakiewicz was seen as public enemy number one in Chester, a CEO and Operating Partner who became the face of an underachieving club. In fairness, that was something he never really disputed.

“Someone has to answer and take the heat, I guess,” he told the Delco Times a few months back.

To that point, I viewed Nick as a person who covered for Sugarman’s shortcomings by repeatedly falling on the sword. There was never a doubt that Sakiewicz was a smart businessman, but a lack of resources stunted early Union gains and quickly brought an end to the club’s honeymoon period. Whether he helped his cause or not, most people realized that this was a thrifty franchise with a young coach, no scouting department, and no general manager.

But those days are long gone, and Sakiewicz is now building a new foundation for the NLL.

Attendance is up and expansion is underway. There seems to be stability and foresight for a league that has existed for quite a while now, but for most of that time just spinning its wheels. In many ways, Sakiewicz’s experiences with a rapidly growing MLS made him an ideal candidate to oversee the growth of another niche sport with similar upside.

I ran into Sakiewicz for the first time in two years at last Thursday’s NLL Philadelphia expansion announcement. He agreed to speak further about his lacrosse gig and Union departure, and we followed up on the phone this week. Continue Reading

Continue Reading

The Philadelphia (Wings) Are Back in Business with a “Top Shelf, Blue Chip” Owner

Kevin Kinkead - September 14, 2017

That didn’t last long.

Three years after packing up and moving to Connecticut, a brand new version of the Philadelphia (Wings) will start playing lacrosse at the Wells Fargo Center next season.

I put “Wings” in parentheses because that’s not the team name, at least not yet. A fan vote will determine the new franchise moniker, with “Wings” currently beating out “Ligers” by a 2 to 1 margin, based on what I saw inside the voting booth after Thursday’s presser.

National Lacrosse League Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz was joined by Comcast Spectacor President and CEO Dave Scott for the official announcement. Comcast, who will own the team, reportedly put five million dollars into the expansion franchise.

“We just needed to find the right owner,” Sakiewicz said. “It’s all about the owner. We couldn’t have found a better one in Comcast Spectacor. They run an amazing operation. They’re a top shelf, blue chip owner, whatever you want to call it. They’re the best at what they do. It was a lot of work getting them on board, but they looked at it very closely and diligently and made the right decisions.”

Scott says talks regarding expansion Philadelphia began about a year ago, not long after Sakiewicz took the NLL commissioner gig after leaving his post as Philadelphia Union CEO. Continue Reading

Continue Reading

The Philadelphia Wings are Moving

Jim Adair - July 14, 2014

Their final photo

The Philadelphia Wings, whose tenure from 1986 until now was the longest for a team in one city in the National Lacrosse League, are no more. In a press release sent out at prime news hours (2pm on a Friday in July, when no one is focused on the weekend at all), the Wings announced that the “Ownership of the Philadelphia Wings … plan to re-locate the franchise for the 2015 season.” The release continues to say that they are “in discussions with a new strategic partner for re-location,” which has not been announced yet. Tickets purchased for the 2015 season will be refunded.

Owner and Team President Michael French said “the financial model in a market with so many sport and entertainment alternatives has proven to be unsustainable. Finding a new venue with new strategic partners was the only way to ensure financial stability.” The Wings, until this announcement, played their home games in the Wells Fargo Center, and before that in the Spectrum. The cost to rent the Wells Fargo, along with the near impossible task of filling it, certainly wouldn’t have helped the Wings, and the Wings will now join the other former Spectrum tenants that have either moved or ceased to exist (the Kixx, the Bulldogs, the Fever, and the Philadelphia Phantoms).

Regardless of their non-major status, the Wings won six championships in their 28-year existence (four in the MILL and two in the newer NLL), and that’s worth celebrating. Just a little bit though, let’s not get carried away. According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, the 2014 Wings season featured a 10% drop in attendance and the team ranked eighth (out of nine teams) with an average of 6,864 fans a game. That works out to less than 39% of the seats being filled if you’re using the arena’s smallest seating configuration.

If you’re looking for some niche sport action, however, you’ve still got the Spinners and … uh … the Freedoms?