An Interview with George Daniel, Commissioner of the National Lacrosse League

31 Dec, 2010

By: Sports Destination Management Team


George Daniel, Commissioner of the Nation Lacrosse League (NLL), which plays professional indoor lacrosse.
George Daniel, Commissioner of the Nation Lacrosse League (NLL), which plays professional indoor lacrosse.

George Daniel, Commissioner of the National Lacrosse League (NLL), which plays professional indoor lacrosse.

Years in Industry
17 years in the professional sports business.

Years in Current Position
I am entering my third year as Commissioner; 11 years in NLL league office. I served the NLL as Deputy Commissioner & COO prior to being appointed Commissioner.

What is the mission of your organization?
The NLL aims to entertain fans with the world's best lacrosse players, playing in the best indoor arenas at family friendly prices, and to raise the profile of the sport of lacrosse.

Nationally, how many participants do you have?
The NLL has ten teams across the US & Canada: Boston, Philadelphia, Denver, Seattle, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Buffalo and Rochester in the US; Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton in Canada.

How many events are held each year/in what regions?
We have a total of 80 games during our regular season, with each team hosting eight home games from January to April, spread over a 16-week regular season. The playoffs consist of seven single-elimination playoff games, which are hosted by the teams. We also have an All-Star Game, which can be hosted by a member team, or is sometimes held at a neutral site.

As an organization, what do you look for in a location?
We look for a quality indoor facility. The NLL is the top level of professional lacrosse, with the world's best lacrosse players. As the major professional league for our sport, we look to play in major league markets. We look for strong local ownership groups that have good relationships with the best arenas. We look for markets, owners and arenas that will be able maintain our league's average attendance of 10,000 fans per game. Our teams primarily play at the NHL and NBA arenas of their respective markets. Most of our teams play in arenas with capacities of 10,000 fans or higher; however, we have waived that requirement in certain locations where we feel the market can work.

From an event management standpoint, what is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Securing enough quality home dates for each of our teams can be a big challenge. Our regular season runs from January to April, and all of our games are on weekends. Our teams play in arenas where hockey and basketball teams are the primary winter tenants. Between those teams, concerts and other events, it can be challenging to secure eight quality home dates for each of our ten teams. We play during a very busy time of the year for these arenas. Fortunately, many arenas can host our game plus another event in the same day because the arenas can convert from hockey to indoor lacrosse in an hour.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Attending our games and watching the fans enjoy our sport is a huge reward of the job.

Please describe how your knowledge, skills and experience have contributed to the success of the sports events in which you are involved.
I'm an attorney by trade, and I've had experience in minor league sports team ownership prior to coming to the NLL. Those experiences have given me a unique perspective to appreciate what it's like to try to sell tickets and to promote events. I'm not sure that all league executives can say the same thing.


Subscribe to SDM