The Dallas Wings owner, who brought the WNBA to Dallas in 2016, is now bringing NLL expansion to Fort Worth.
Bill Cameron, the majority owner of the Wings, along with Managing Partner Greg Bibb, will help usher in the 14th National Lacrosse League (NLL) franchise, the latest domino in the recent NLL expansion.
Cameron Enterprises has owned its WNBA franchise since 2010 back when it played in Oklahoma as the Tulsa Shock and oversaw the team’s move to Dallas and pivot as the Wings in 2016, moving into College Park Center in Arlington, Texas, for their home games.
On Wednesday, NLL expansion was officially awarded, and Fort Worth and Cameron were given the nod.
“We had over a dozen cities that we were in pretty active conversations with, but what really won the day for Fort Worth as Team 14 was, first and foremost, Bill and Greg’s ownership, the culture, how they run their organization, their knowledge of the sports industry and their success in the sports industry,” NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz said.
Bibb said the experience he and Cameron have had in the WNBA played a role in finding another home in the NLL.
“When we were doing our due diligence, we immediately saw a lot of synergy between the WNBA product and the NLL product in the quality and entertainment value in the game, but also in the accessibility of the athletes,” Bibb said. “The athletes are truly invested in the growth and the experience of the fan in the NLL, much like they are in the WNBA, and that really resonated with us. That’s important, especially in regard to the growth of the league and the sport.
“We also saw great synergy in terms of the value proposition for the fan,” he continued. “It’s an affordable ticket. A family of four can come to a game, have a great time and spend less than $100 to do so, which is also similar to the WNBA.”
The Fort Worth NLL team, which has not yet determined its nickname and identity, will fall back on its ownership’s experience with the Wings to prepare for its inaugural 2021-22 season, which could see more NLL expansion as a 15th team will come that year or the following one.
“I think it’s important to recognize that they are standalone, separate businesses,” Bibb explained. “That said, we would be foolish not to, as a lacrosse entity, lean on the infrastructure that we have spent the better part of five years now building with the Wings. I think we have one of the best front offices in all of sports. It’s a group that is tireless in its work to help promote and growth the WNBA and the Dallas Wings, and we’re going to utilize that staff to do the same with our NLL team.”
One piece of wisdom Bibb said he’s gained from the Wings that he’ll take into box lacrosse is how crucial grassroots growth is for a successful sports franchise and local community.
“I have learned through my sports career, and specifically here most recently with the Wings, that the grassroots component of your business is vitally important,” he said. “Also, it’s an obligation to help grow the game at the grassroots marketplace level … we would love at some point to have members of our roster who grew up and played the game here in North Texas. That would be the ultimate goal.”
This is not the first link between the WNBA and NLL. The Connecticut Sun and New England Black Wolves both play at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, and are part-owned by the Mohegan Tribe.