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Denver Outlaws fans

Return of Denver Outlaws Highlights PLL’s Host Cities Announcement

November 14, 2023
USA Lacrosse Magazine Staff
Isiah Downing

The Premier Lacrosse League announced Tuesday the host cities and regions that each of its eight clubs will be assigned moving forward, the latest transition in the league’s history since its inception in October 2018.

The new assignments are as follows:

Utah Archers
New York Atlas
Boston Cannons
Carolina Chaos
Denver Outlaws
California Redwoods
Philadelphia Waterdogs
Maryland Whipsnakes

The choices were made after evaluating existing fan data, market performance, broadcast viewership and fan voting. Host venues will be announced at a later date. The announcement also came with the introduction of Eastern and Western Conferences, with Utah, Denver, California and Carolina comprising the West and New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Maryland comprising the East.

The most notable assignment is the rebranding of Chrome Lacrosse Club as the Denver Outlaws — long one of the most popular and successful Major League Lacrosse franchises. When the PLL merged with MLL, the PLL made it clear that it held the rights to MLL teams and branding. And with the re-emergence of both the Outlaws and Boston Cannons, the league is capitalizing on those properties.

Denver led MLL in average attendance in 12 of 14 seasons from 2006-19, bolstered by a Fourth of July fireworks game that annually drew more than 25,000 fans and peaked with 31,644 in 2015.

On the whole, the Denver area is ripe with lacrosse interest.

The National Lacrosse League’s Colorado Mammoth, a team that drew nearly 10,000 fans per game last year, has led the league in attendance four times. In 2008, the Mammoth’s average Pepsi Center attendance of 12,991 was higher than that of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and the NBA’s Denver Nuggets.

Denver men’s lacrosse’s average attendance of 2,070 this year ranked fifth in NCAA men’s lacrosse. All five home games were sellouts, and new head coach Matt Brown said the school is exploring options to expand capacity at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium to meet demand.

“Our eight lacrosse clubs are coming home,” said Paul Rabil, co-founder and president of the PLL. “This is the biggest moment in our league’s history since 2018, when we first launched the PLL. With the Olympic news, we’re now a global game and will continue to invest in bringing the PLL to new markets in the U.S. and around the world.”

The goal of assigning home bases to clubs is to aid those regions in youth lacrosse development. The PLL will make new investments in those areas in an effort to grow the game and build fan affinity in those areas. PLL Youth programming will establish community-driven, team-branded programming focused on grassroots participation, access to the sport and relationship-building between PLL teams and lacrosse’s next generation of athletes.

The PLL was one of eight leading lacrosse organizations that recently signed the ELEVATE28 charter pledging to work toward doubling participation in the sport by the end of the decade.

Founded as a touring league prior to its 2019 debut, the PLL will retain its touring model for now. When the PLL travels to a home team’s market, that team will host its “homestand weekend” and play two games across two days.

Homestand weekends will feature dedicated fan sections, and the league will plan local philanthropic partnerships through PLL Assists.

The top four teams from the 2023 season will be the first to represent their home markets at the 2024 PLL Championship Series, running Feb. 14-19 at The St. James in Springfield, Va.

The Utah Archers, Boston Cannons, California Redwoods and Philadelphia Waterdogs will compete in the sixes format, a variation of the discpline that will be played in the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics.