Pro outdoor league set for summer 2000 debut

Steinfeld unveils plans

Baltimore on list of cities

May 25, 1999|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

Outdoor lacrosse will have a professional future in the new millennium.

Major League Lacrosse, which will begin in eight cities with the promotional phrase of "Take it Outside," was unveiled yesterday at a news conference in New York and will begin play in summer 2000.

It's the first attempt for a professional outdoor league in more than a decade since the American Lacrosse League, which featured the Baltimore Tribe, folded in the mid-1980s.

"My goal is to expand the sport of lacrosse," said league founder Jake Steinfeld, known nationally for "Body by Jake," his fitness television show. "We're going to start at the roots and spread the word."

The league will finalize its selections in two months after narrowing a 13-city pool that includes Baltimore; Buffalo, N.Y.; Boston; Columbus, Ohio; New York's Long Island; Norfolk, Va.; Philadelphia; Washington, and Providence, R.I.

Steinfeld said Columbus is virtually locked in as the league's first team.

Major League Lacrosse will launch its 16- to 18-game schedule in the second week of June and will end its season around Labor Day. It will be similar to the college game, but will have a shot clock and a two-point line.

"My dream was to create an opportunity for players to compete professionally and embrace the purists," said Steinfeld, who played lacrosse at Baldwin High School in New York and then for Cortland State in 1977.

"People thought I was crazy when I wanted to start a personal-fitness business in 1979 and it created an industry."

The league already has a sponsor in Reebok and has three 1998 national team members -- David Morrow, Casey Powell and Mark Millon -- on its advisory committee. Plans for a national television outlet and possibly prime-time exposure could be announced within a month.

The players, who could shift to the indoor National Lacrosse League in the winter, will be involved in a profit-sharing partnership with Major League Lacrosse and will be paid a salary estimated between $15,000 and $25,000.

"People have cheered for these players for years and have had to let them go after college," said Morrow, a co-founder and investor who is the president of Warrior Lacrosse, an equipment manufacturing company.

"This presents a platform for players to just get better."

Pub Date: 5/25/99

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