KENNESAW — Lacrosse enthusiasts who would like to see a Major League Lacrosse team in the metro-Atlanta area now have their chance.
MLL will host a regular-season game between the Boston Cannons and the Rochester Rattlers on June 7 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.
The contest will be the first professional lacrosse game played in Georgia, and if there is a good crowd with positive feedback, MLL commissioner David Gross said the stadium would become home to a new franchise — possibly beginning play as early as 2014.
“Usually, we like to give a team 18 months to prepare to allow it to get its marketing started,” Gross said. “But by playing this game in June, the marketing here is already started. If it goes well, we would not have any problem announcing an expansion team for 2014.”
Gross said a “great sign” heading toward expansion would be for the June 7 game, which is being put on by MLL in conjunction with LB3 Lacrosse and the Atlanta Sports Council, to draw 5,000 or more fans.
But Gross also said the big thing isn't so much the attendance as how much do the fans enjoy the game.
“If the reaction is 'meh,' which I don't expect it to be, then we hold off,” Gross said. “But the sport is fast-paced, action-packed and there is plenty of hitting - everything a sports fan wants to see.”
Tickets, which went on sale March 1, range in cost from $15 to $50 and can be purchased online at www.mllatl.com.
Gross has been open about wanting to expand MLL, which plays a 14-game schedule from April to August, to eventually reach as many as 16 teams by the end of the decade. He said Atlanta has been on the radar for expansion for a long time, but they could never come up with a proper venue until Fifth Third Bank Stadium became available.
“This is the venue we want,” he said.
The 8,300-seat stadium is a perfect-sized venue for MLL based on the attendance numbers of the current eight franchises — Boston, Charlotte, Chesapeake (Md.), Denver, Hamilton (Ontario), New York, Columbus (Ohio) and Rochester (N.Y.). In 2012, the league averaged 5,608 fans per game.
Fifth Third Bank Stadium is also the home of the university's inaugural women's lacrosse program.
Rochester will give up one of its home games to come to Atlanta, and Rattlers vice president and assistant general manager Nathan Snyder said they are excited to come see KSU Stadium and the Atlanta-area fans first-hand.
“Giving up a home game is a little tough,” Snyder said, “but we feel like Atlanta is a strong market, and if we want this league to keep growing, we have to bring the game to the emerging (lacrosse) markets.”
The game will be the centerpiece of a week-long lacrosse showcase at KSU and north Georgia.