The National Lacrosse League has completed a deal with the Professional Lacrosse Players’ Association on a collective bargaining agreement.
The seven-year contract goes into effect immediately, and either side can opt out of the deal after five years. Compromises by both sides were made in order to put the league in a better financial situation.
Some of the highlights of the agreement include:
• The active roster for each team has been reduced from 23 players to 20; 18 players can dress for each game.
• A luxury tax will be imposed on teams that spent more than $400,000 on salaries, bonuses and promotional considerations in a given year. The rate starts at 25 percent and goes up in steps from there.
• The qualifying age for unrestricted free agency has dropped from 32 to 30. In addition, any player older than 34 has the right to reject designation as a “franchise player,” which would force him to remain with the same team.
“We laid out the direction we needed to make changes. The players listened,” NLL Commissioner George Daniel said. “Everyone wants to cut a bigger piece of the pie, but the pie needs to get bigger.”
“We did do a financial analysis of all of the teams, and we brought that information to the table,” said Peter Schmitz, the President of the Professional Lacrosse Players’ Association. “We agreed to curb expenses as best we could without diminishing the product. … The recognition of the situation from both sides was a solid approach and led to much better negotiations.”
The change in the free agency rules means that such players as Billy Dee Smith and Chad Culp of the Buffalo Bandits have become unrestricted free agents. Both are 31. All teams now can begin signing players on their rosters.
The NLL also can go ahead with some previously announced actions now that the new CBA is in effect. The schedule will go from 16 to 18 games, and the season will begin on Dec. 28. The Minnesota Swarm has moved from the West to the East. Six of the nine teams — three from each division — will qualify for the playoffs, down from eight.