That Does It! Pittsburgh Needs an NLL Team...
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steel City. Where champions reside. There’s a lot of nicknames for the western Pennsylvania city; yet, everyone can agree on one thing. Pittsburgh is the city for professional sports teams to become champions. The Pittsburgh Steelers have six Super Bowl rings. The Pittsburgh Pirates have five World Series championships. The Pittsburgh Penguins have five Stanley Cups. Catching a theme yet? Teams in Pittsburgh win championships. They also have extremely loyal fanbases that demand the absolute best of their teams. If the NLL wants to add a team that will be expected to win championships quickly, Pittsburgh is the right place.
Admittedly, the city size isn’t massive compared to other cities I’ve mentioned for expansion (click here and here). Pittsburgh has a respectable population size of 302,407; however, Allegheny County, the county Pittsburgh resides, hosts a population of 1.223 million. While Pittsburgh as a whole isn’t large, the surrounding area is.
As all realistic expansion cities, Pittsburgh is home to the Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL). This means the city has the facilities to field a box lacrosse team. The only problem is if Penguins co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ronald Burkle would be interested in a team. That remains to be seen; however, the Penguins are worth 650 million dollars and an NLL expansion team costs around 3 million. The investment could be worth it to keep fans in PPG Arena when the Penguins are on the road.
Along with the large market size and NHL facilities, lacrosse is extremely popular in western Pennsylvania. This popularity is only growing. It is critical for the league to capitalize on this. In fact, there are 37 boys high school teams in the WPIAL (Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletics League). There are 42 girls high school teams as well. Pittsburgh University has an extremely competitive men’s MCLA team who I hope bumps up to D1 in the years to come. The cherry on top is Pitt just announced they are fielding a D1 women’s lacrosse team come 2022. The lacrosse community in Allegheny County is large enough to support an NLL team.
Interestingly, the MLL may have considered adding a team in Pittsburgh some years back. I found an article and figured I would share it. I do not know too much about this, but if this is true, it means other pro lacrosse leagues have seen the potential Pittsburgh holds with fielding a team (article linked here).
Finally, Pittsburgh needs an NLL team to complement the Philadelphia Wings. Imagine if the Penguins didn’t exist and we just had the Philadelphia Flyers (NHL). There would be no epic in-state rivalry. With Philly having the Wings, and Pittsburgh having nothing, it’s like Batman without the Joker. The two need each other to hate on. Rivalries between Pennsylvanian teams are among the most brutal and there is no reason to think this wouldn’t carry over into lacrosse. How could an ugly rivalry between NLL Pitt and the Philadelphia Wings not be good for the game?
All in all, Pittsburgh and its surrounding area seem to be an untapped goldmine when it comes to fielding a pro team. The market size is there. The market size also has a large lacrosse community. People there love their sports. And the city has box lacrosse facilities. Going with the alliteration theme Pitt teams have, it’d be great to see the NLL field the Pittsburgh Piranhas or Pittsburgh Parrots (don’t hate on these names, they’re just examples ☹) Heck, if they go with the Parrots, they could have a live mascot. A first in the NLL! Here’s to hoping the NLL and its investors see the potential a team in Pittsburgh holds.
Think Pittsburgh should have an NLL team? Do you think this is an awful idea? I'm I completely out of my mind? Let me know what you think by connecting with me on Instagram (logical_lacrosse) or Twitter (Logical_Lacrosse). Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed!