The Rochester Rattlers came from behind in the final minutes of the fourth quarter to beat the Boston Cannons 16-14 on Friday, in front of an announced crowd of 4,470 at Kennesaw State’s Fifth Third Bank Stadium.
Now, the wait is on to see if the metro-Atlanta area will get an MLL team of its own.
The league experimented by having a game in the Atlanta area to see if the city would get behind a team of its own.
“What will they name the team?” asked Tom Houston, a coach in the Cherokee Youth Lacrosse Association who is behind having a team in Atlanta.
The MLL, which played its first season in 2001, is comprised of eight franchises, with all but one east of the Mississippi River. Charlotte, N.C., and Columbus, Ohio, were the latest cities granted expansion teams — both of which began play last season — and the league is now looking to expand to other markets like Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis and Miami.
MLL commissioner David Gross said the league has been studying Atlanta for up to five years, but finding a venue had been difficult until Fifth Third Bank Stadium was built.
“We love this venue, and working with the people at Kennesaw has been easier than any venue we ever worked in the history of the league,” said Gross, who was in attendance for Friday’s game. “There’s a lot of interest from local communities. Our goal — sooner rather than later — is to put a team here in Atlanta full-time.”
Gross said he is currently working with various sports officials around Atlanta, and talks have been positive with potential investors. He added that the ability to secure a long-term lease with Kennesaw State and Fifth Third Bank Stadium is also being sorted out.
Gross’ next major step, he said, was securing an ownership group.
Though Friday’s crowd filled only a little more than half of the 8,300-seat stadium, that didn’t worry Gross.
“I think it’s different when you don’t have a home team to root for,” Gross said. “Once you put a team in, people can rally get behind them and the players.”
The crowd get behind both teams Friday, with Boston establishing the lead and maintaining it until Rochester’s John Ranagan took it away on a goal with 2:10 left to play in the game.
After Boston tied it at 14-all on Matt Poskay’s goal, the Rattlers’ Steve Denepoli scored the game-winner with 1:20 left. Ranagan added an insurance goal at the 45-second mark.
With the game passed, the thoughts of a professional lacrosse team coming to the Atlanta area continued again.
“There are a lot of teams up north, and it would be cool to have a team down here,” said 12-year-old Colton Hayes of Peachtree City. “I would like it very much.”