The Gaming Authority has scheduled a press conference Wednesday to announce the acquisition of its second professional sports team. Originally reported by the New London Day and confirmed by The Courant Monday, the arrival of the league will provide Mohegan Sun a tenant in the traditionally slow winter months. The league operates from December to May, so it won't conflict with the Sun schedule.
Apparently, the Tribal Authority is purchasing one of the nine franchises playing in the National Lacrosse League.
According to US Lacrosse, about 750,000 athletes, male and female, played the sport at some level last season. Among those were 290,000 at the high school level and 36,000 in college.
Also in 2004, the first year of girls lacrosse as a CIAC sport in Connecticut, there were 3,210 boys and 2,592 girls playing at the high school level. In 2013, those numbers had increased by 42 percent.
The origins of lacrosse, of course, play nicely into the casino's demographic. Its origins come from a game played by Native Americans, perhaps as far back as the 17th century. The game was modified by European immigrants.
The league operated with nine teams last season. The Eastern Conference consisted of Buffalo, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Rochester, N.Y., and Toronto. The Western Conference fielded teams in Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton and Vancouver.
The 2013-14 season began Dec. 28 and ended May 31. After finishing the regular season on top of the East, the Rochester Knighthawks became the first team in league history to win three straight league titles.
Each NLL team plays 18 games during the regular season, nine home, with the emphasis on divisional opponents. At the end the regular season, the top three teams in each division make the playoffs and compete for the Champion's Cup. The two regular season division champions earn first-round byes as top seeds. In the past, all NLL games have been played on the weekends.
The game is a variation referred to as box lacrosse. It is a condensed version of the outdoor game popular with many colleges and high schools on the East Coast.
The NLL plays four 15-minute quarters with two-minute breaks between the quarters and a 12-minute break at halftime. The clock does not run when play is stopped. And if a game is tied after regulation, the teams play sudden death periods of up to 15 minutes each. Each team dresses 18 players, including two goaltenders.
About 75 percent of league players are from Canada.