Unresolved NLL labor dispute cancels first two weeks of NLL, Colorado Mammoth season

Buffalo Bandits vs. Colorado Mammoth at Pepsi Center, Saturday, March 3, 2018, in Denver. (Photo by Jack Dempsey for the Colorado Mammoth)

On Thursday, the National Lacrosse League (NLL) announced in a statement that failure to resolve a labor dispute in negotiation with the Professional Lacrosse Players Association (PLPA) — which is the exclusive bargaining agent for the NLL’s players — has resulted in cancellation of the first two weeks of the 2018-2019 season. 

“The PLPA has instructed its players not to attend training camps or submit to physicals. The players have in fact followed these instructions which has made it impossible for the teams to form rosters or otherwise operate.  Therefore, we reluctantly have no choice except to cancel the first two weekends of the 2018-19 season, December 1 and December 8, 2018. We will provide any further communication on the 2018-19 schedule as updates become available.”

The Colorado Mammoth were scheduled to host Calgary on December 1st (home-season opener) at the Pepsi Center and travel to Saskatchewan on December 8th. Both games have been cancelled due to the dispute.

The NLL says that they have always acted in good faith in attempting to resolve the issue.

“We have always comported ourselves in a professional, above board and good faith manner,” stated in a news release on the NLL.Com official website.

“We must create a partnership for growth with the players, but we believe we must grow together with a strategy that fits within a reasonable business model. A guaranteed 400% increase in expenses without a corresponding guaranteed revenue increase is not something as stewards of the league we can responsibly agree to.”

The league continues regarding what they call a ‘good and fair’ offer on the table, including a 25% increase in salary and benefits for players.

“We have put a very good and fair offer on the table, which includes a 25% increase in salary and benefits for the players. It is a significant improvement from where the players were at the beginning of their last employment agreement and a testament to our ownership’s commitment to continue to invest heavily in our sport and grow the League.”

The NLL is a growing league and lacrosse as a whole is booming around backyards and schools all over the country. Several past surveys from US Lacrosse have noted outdoor lacrosse as the fastest growing team sport at the high-school and collegiate levels in America.

The NLL itself also has recently expanded, introducing two new teams to the league for the 2018-2019 season; the San Diego Seals and the Philadelphia Wings.

“For the good of everyone including players, owners and our fans, we are attempting to run the League as a business so that its long-term health and success is assured,” the league continued in their release on Thursday.

“We have seen steady, but only incremental success. This nascent growth will only continue if ownership, management and players all work together to achieve it. At this point, we are extremely disappointed that we have not reached a fair and equitable agreement for both the NLL and the players.

We continue to be available and open to meet with the PLPA to resolve this issue in earnest and hope we can get back to playing lacrosse and providing you, the fans, the best entertainment experience in professional sports. Thank you for your patience.”