The start of the 2019 National Lacrosse League (NLL) season is in jeopardy as the league’s owners and players try to reach a new collective bargaining agreement.
The regular season is scheduled to open on Dec. 1, but if a new CBA is not in place by then the league faces the prospect of having to reschedule or even cancel games.
The Professional Lacrosse Players’ Association (PLPA) and the league signed a seven-year agreement in 2013 with an opt-out clause after five years. The players’ union exercised that option in January but since then the two parties have been unable to come to terms on a new CBA.
The PLPA rejected the league’s most recent offer on Nov. 7, countering with a proposal that would allow the season to proceed as scheduled while the parties continued to negotiate a long-term deal, but Vancouver Warriors forward Corey Small said on Twitter that the NLL wasn’t interested.
The main issue reportedly preventing any potential agreement surrounds average team revenues. As the NLL continues to grow, with new expansion franchises joining the league and more expected in the coming years, the players are seeking a piece of the financial pie that reflects that growth.
While both sides have kept the negotiations private for much of the year, the league’s rejection of the players’ counter-proposal led to some players speaking out in frustration over the lack of progress being made.
In the meantime, the impasse is forcing teams to adjust their schedules. On Monday the defending NLL champion Saskatchewan Rush announced the cancellation of their Nov. 16 pre-season game against the Colorado Mammoth. The team’s regular season schedule remains unchanged for the time being.
The NLL has yet to comment publicly on the negotiations.