Wayne Gretzky, Steve Nash and Dustin Johnson invest in NLL Las Vegas team

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A trio of world-renowned athletes and a billionaire sports owner have taken up the torch of lacrosse.

Wayne Gretzky, Steve Nash and Dustin Johnson join Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai as investors in the new Las Vegas franchise of the National Lacrosse League.

Gretzky, considered the greatest player in ice hockey history, was named to the NHL All-Star 15 times and won four Stanley Cups during his Hall of Fame career. Nash, Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame member, was a two-time NBA MVP who just completed his first season as the Brooklyn Nets coach. Johnson won the Masters 2020 and the 2016 US Open and is currently the No. 2 ranked golfer in the world. He has been engaged to Gretzky’s daughter, Paulina Gretzky, since 2013, and the couple have two sons.

“It is an honor and a privilege to work together to bring the game of box lacrosse to the Las Vegas community,” the new owners said in a statement. joint statement. “On the business side and throughout our franchise in general, we will also be forward thinking and innovative – and while staying true to the fast paced and exciting nature of box lacrosse and the city of Las Vegas. We can’t wait to get started.

The team does not yet have a name but is expected to start playing in 2022. Las Vegas is part of a two-team expansion that includes the Panther City Lacrosse Club in Fort Worth, Texas, which will debut in 2021-2022 . The Vegas team will play at MGM’s Michelob Ultra Arena, located inside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

Gretzky started playing lacrosse at the age of six after his father thought it would help him play hockey. According to the Steve Nash Foundation website, Nash played lacrosse growing up before turning to the sport that would become his career. Tsai also has a connection to the game. He played collegiate lacrosse at Yale and now invests in the Premier Lacrosse League and owns another NLL team, the San Diego Seals.

“We are very proud to welcome Las Vegas NLL as our 15th franchise, led by an elite group of accomplished business people and athletes, current and former – especially great people in Joe, Wayne, Dustin and Steve at the property level, ”NLL Commissioner Nick told Sakiewicz. “When our industry looks at the growth of box lacrosse as a sport and Las Vegas as the home of a first-class franchise, we believe this will be one of the founding days in the history of the NLL. The people of this community will feast both on the ground and in the community. “

Lacrosse is considered one of the fastest growing sports in the United States, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, with participation increasing 16% from 2015 to 2019. In 2019 and 2020, 30 colleges added men’s and / or women’s lacrosse as university options, and more recently, Clemson and Pittsburgh announced the addition of Women’s Division I lacrosse programs to their track departments.

Professional gaming is also developing. The NLL had nine teams in 2017-18 and nearly doubled that number in three years, according to Sportico.

Contact Alyssa Hertel at [email protected] or on Twitter @AlyssaHertel.

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