Our first-ever (and long-overdue) exploration of the sport of professional lacrosse begins with a conversation with one of the godfathers of the modern indoor game, Russ Cline – founder (along with partner and fellow Kansas City sports promoter Chris Fritz) of 1987’s seminal four-team Eagle Pro Box Lacrosse League (soon renamed the Major Indoor Lacrosse League) – and the progenitor of today’s vibrant National Lacrosse League that spans 11 cities across the US and Canada.
Cline walks obsessive inquisitor Tim Hanlon through: the duo’s rationale behind choosing lacrosse as the focus of their entrepreneurial efforts; the slow-growth approaches to expansion beyond the lacrosse-rich Northeast and national television coverage; the business model battle between single-entity and individually-owned franchises; and the delicate balance between maintaining the integrity of the sport’s rich history and marketing a hard-hitting, high-scoring, action-packed entertainment product.
Plus: playing surfaces borne of carpet remnants and Coca-Cola; robbing Philadelphia to pay Baltimore; becoming ESPN2’s first-ever scheduled pro league; and turning down a very tempting birthday gift!
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