The Minnesota Swarm has a new home: the Atlanta area.
The team announced on Friday that it will move to Gwinnett, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, and be known as the Georgia Swarm. It will play in the Gwinnett Center, which seats about 11,500 and is located about 25 minutes from Atlanta. The building hosts the Gwinnett Gladiators of the ECHL, which has averaged about 5,500 fans per game for most of its history.
“Today is an exciting day as we open a new chapter in team history,” Swarm Owner John Arlotta said on nll.com. “The sport of lacrosse is growing at a rapid pace in Georgia and we’re thrilled to bring the fastest game on two feet at the professional level to The Arena at Gwinnett Center. With its high-scoring nature, and gameplay which resembles hockey and basketball in many ways, the NLL is enjoyable for lacrosse and non-lacrosse fans alike, and is great family entertainment.”
The Atlanta market certainly is good-sized, and the Swarm won't have to compete with a National Hockey League team for attention. Outdoor lacrosse has shown some popularity and growth in the Georgia area in recent years, as the Major League Lacrosse will hold its championship game there in August.
However, indoor lacrosse has not been tested there. In addition, the National Lacrosse League's attempts in the South have not gone well. Charlotte and Orlando hosted teams for only one season.
--- Budd Bailey