Net Win for Panther City
The National Lacrosse League has awarded its 14th franchise to Fort Worth, bringing back professional sports to the city for the first time since the Fort Worth Cats baseball team ceased play in 2014.
The team in the men's league will play at Dickies Arena, starting in the 2021-2022 season. The Fort Worth team name, logo, and colors will be announced later this year. It is the first time the NLL has expanded into Texas in its 34-year history.
According to a release, a group including majority owner Bill Cameron, who is a partial owner of the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder and lead owner of the Dallas Wings of the WNBA, and managing partner Greg Bibb, chief executive officer and partner of the WNBA's Dallas Wings, were responsible for bringing the new team to the city.
“We welcome Fort Worth as our 14th team and are excited to be working with a first-class organization led by Bill Cameron, Greg Bibb, and the leadership at Dickies Arena,” NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz said in a statement. “Greg’s accomplishments with the WNBA’s Dallas Wings and a Fort Worth fan base who craves what we provide — fun-filled nonstop action — will make this franchise a must see and must follow."
The National Lacrosse League has been in existence in one name or another since 1987. It plays a version of the game called box lacrosse, which is more physical and allows stick maneuvers not allowed in field lacrosse. The league currently consists of 13 teams across the United States and Canada, with the closest franchise being the Colorado Mammoth in Denver.
The league is not to be confused with Major League Lacrosse, which had a brief stay in the Dallas-Fort Worth area when the Dallas Rattlers played in Frisco in 2018 and 2019, nor the Premier Lacrosse League, both of which play field lacrosse.
“We wanted a growing sport that is on the rise and that fans can engage with, not just at the arena but at the grassroots level, and one that understands the value of the digital native fans and how brands can engage in these fluid times," said Bibb in a statement. "The NLL checked all those boxes, and we can’t wait to bring this new franchise to the fans in greater Fort Worth.”
In addition to the National Lacrosse League, other sports coming to Dickies Arena include a visit by Professional Bull Riders, the American Athletic Conference men's and women’s basketball championships, and the 2022 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament.
The National Lacrosse League season typically runs from late December to April, although its most recent season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The date for the league's draft, which normally takes place in late September, and whether their 35th season will go on as usual will be announced later this year.