The Mohegan Sun Arena will have a new tenant beginning in December as it was announced today that the Mohegan Sun and its Tribal Gaming Authority have purchased a 50 percent stake in the Philadelphia Wings of the National Lacrosse League and will begin play in Uncasville this winter. The remaining 50 percent of the team is owned by Michael French, a former Cornell All-American and a member of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame. French had been the outright owner of the franchise until the Mohegan Tribe came into the picture.
The National Lacrosse League—and indoor circuit—consists of nine teams: Buffalo, Rochester, Minnesota, Toronto, Colorado, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and now Connecticut. The team will be re-named and re-branded, but the new moniker has not yet been determined.
Lacrosse is a natural fit with the Mohegan Tribe, as the sport descended from stick-ball games played by Native American Tribes more than 700 years ago.
“The Mohegan Tribe is thrilled to be associated with a game with centuries-old roots with the Easter Woodland Indians,” said Mohegan tribal Chairman Kevin Brown. “By bringing the lacrosse team to our reservation land, we are not only creating a tie with the past, but bringing the game into an exciting future. We are aiming to create a team and community spirit to match what we have been able to achieve with the Connecticut Sun.”
The team will play an 18-game schedule primarily on the weekends from December through May, and will be in the NLL's Eastern Conference. The Mohegan Tribe's investment in the franchise is reported to have been $1.5 million.
This will not be Connecticut's first foray into professional lacrosse. In 2001, the Bridgeport Barrage were charter members of Major League Lacrosse (MLL), an outdoor league. The Barrage played at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard, home of the Bridgeport Bluefish, until 2003.
“On behalf of the entire NLL, we are proud to welcome the Mohegan Tribe as owners, further re-connecting our league with the rich roots of the game,” said NLL Commissioner George Daniel. “We are also excited about the prospects of bringing the NLL to Connecticut and greater New England for the 2015 season.”
The Mohegan Tribe, which operates Mohegan Sun, also owns the WNBA's Connecticut Sun and operates Mohegan Sun Arena. Seating capacity for lacrosse will be 7,700.