Premier Lacrosse League Merging With Rival in Bid to Unify Sport

The upstart Premier Lacrosse League is taking over two-decade-old Major League Lacrosse in a deal that underscores the tough economics for two organizations vying in a still-fledgling sport.

The merged entity, which will keep the PLL name, will have the right to add the former MLL teams as expansion clubs. Financial terms of the deal, which wasfirst reported by Sportico, weren’t disclosed.

Though lacrosse has grown in popularity in recent years, PLL Chief Executive Officer Mike Rabil said the deal would be better for the game by providing athletes and fans “a single destination for the best lacrosse in the world.”

MLL has a longer track record — it was founded in 1999 — but the PLL arrived last year with deep-pocketed investors and a well-known face in the form of co-founder and star player Paul Rabil. The new league was backed byAlibaba Group billionaire Joe Tsai, the Raine Group and Creative Artists Agency. It also snagged a media-rights agreement with NBC Sports.

Paul Rabil, the brother of Mike, said the agreement made him nostalgic because he began his career with MLL.

“Merging the two organizations and removing some of the challenges that athletes, sponsors and fans faced will undoubtedly advance the game forward,” he said in a statement. “Today and forever we share in that history and continue to build the future of pro lacrosse together.”

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