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Joe Tsai buys pro lacrosse expansion team in Las Vegas at reported price of $10 million

Philadelphia 76ers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images

Joe Tsai may own the Brooklyn and Long Island Nets and the New York Liberty but his first love has always been lacrosse which he played at Lawrenceville School in New Jersey and at Yale. He has owned the San Diego Seals in the National Lacrosse League, the indoor league, since 2017 and has an investment as well in the Premier Lacrosse League, the outdoor league. His daughter, Alex, plays for the Hong Kong national team and Stanford.

Now, Sportico reports that Tsai is buying a second franchise in the NLL, an expansion club in Las Vegas. The NLL permits dual ownership of its teams. Scott Soshnick and Eben Novy-Williams of Sportico reported Tuesday.

The club, which doesn’t yet have a name or a home venue, will be the NLL’s 15th franchise when it debuts in the 2022-23 season. Though financial terms weren’t released, Tsai said that the all-in cost, including the expansion fee and operational runway, will be in line with the recent price for the Saskatchewan Rush. That club, according to people familiar with the matter, sold for more than $10 million.

The NLL, a so-called “box league” ranks third in average attendance for pro indoor sports worldwide, behind only the NHL and NBA. The league will have 15 franchise once Las Vegas fields a team. Tsai told Sportico that the NLL is hoping for a national media deal as well as other collective revenue opportunities.

“There’s a galvanized group of owners who feel very good about the league’s next five to 10 years,” he said. “The league is looking for a major media deal. We can take the league to the next level in terms of national sponsorship. Crypto, sports betting—there are a lot of commercial opportunities the league can expand into.”

In the past, NLL franchises have been seen as local businesses, but Tsai now seems ready to push a model more in tune with his basketball teams. In addition to his basketball and lacrosse investments, Tsai also owns a small piece of the L.A.F.C. of the MLS.

Putting a team in Las Vegas used to be risky, but sports betting and other drivers has made it a popular sports destination. As Sportico reports, it added an NHL team in 2017, and the NFL’s Raiders moved to town last year. Las Vegas is also a potential venue for NBA and MLS expansion as well as a possible landing spot for baseball’s Oakland Athletics.