Buffalo is among the 30 finalists to be a host city for the new outdoor Premier Lacrosse League, officials announced Thursday.
The league will select 12 cities for the inaugural season, which begins June 1.
Rather than having the six teams based in six cities and play multiple home games in each, the league is set up as a tour, similar to golf and NASCAR. There will be 14 weekends scheduled, with two cities hosting two events. Three games will be played over two days at each stop with a youth event and a fan fest.
The PLL was founded last fall by Paul Rabil, a two-time Major League Lacrosse Most Valuable Player and the league's career leading scorer. In the initial announcement, the PLL said it signed 140 players, including many of the top stars from MLL.
Rabil has said he's approaching the league from a player's perspective. He said the tour-based model is "less isolated and more expansive" and allows them to bring the game to where the fans are.
The league also has signed a national broadcast agreement with NBC Sports Group with 17 games on NBC Sports Network, two on NBC and an additional 19 games on NBC Sports' streaming service.
In announcing the 30 finalists, the league explained an almost clinical process that they have used over the last year. Rabil described it as a "detailed scorecard" to be able to optimize event attendance, venue selections, corporate partnerships and fan experience. Among the data points, he said, were television viewership of college lacrosse, youth lacrosse participation, U.S. Census data around population and the presence of alternative sports team. Each factor was weighted and the initial list had more than 120 cities. Further analysis trimmed the list to 30.
Among the challenges that Buffalo could face is that Rabil has suggested that the league would be attracted to the size and modern amenities in soccer specific stadiums that house Major League Soccer franchises. There is significant overlap between the 30 PLL finalists and cities with MLS stadiums such as Columbus, Toronto, Orlando, Portland and Salt Lake City, among others.
Here are the cities that were announced:
Salt Lake City, Utah