When the National Lacrosse League announced in 2016 that it planned to expand, Comcast Spectacor CEO Dave Scott thought it was a good time for his company to come aboard.
Nick Sakiewicz, former CEO of Major League Soccer's Union, had taken over as NLL commissioner in January. The league had recently relocated its headquarters from New York to Conshohocken.
And in 2017, Comcast Spectacor formally announced its plans to acquire a franchise. The Philadelphia Wings will begin play this December, along with another expansion franchise, the San Diego Seals.
Since Sakiewicz took over the league a few years ago, he has always intended to expand by two teams a year for three years, beginning with San Diego and Philly in 2017. The Rochester Knighthawks — already a team in the league — are moving to Halifax, Nova Scotia, so Sakiewicz and the NLL have awarded an expansion franchise to Terry and Kim Pegula, owner of the NFL's Bills and NHL's Sabres, to keep a team in Rochester.
Last year, the NLL signed a broadcasting deal with Turner so all games will be broadcast on Bleacher Report Live. Currently, The Wings don't have their own television deal.
The Wings schedule has been announced. All home games will be played on weekends at the Wells Fargo Center. There will be ticket bundles for Flyers season-ticket holders.
What was your and Comcast Spectacor's relationship like with the National Lacrosse League before purchasing the Philadelphia Wings franchise last year?
Dave Scott: "I have a long relationship with Nick Sakiewicz, the commissioner, going back to his soccer days. He was running the Philadelphia Union. So we got to know him. He was actually a client of our Spectacor group, and it was great when he made this move. I had a lot of confidence in him, and he is one of the big reasons we jumped in."
What made the Wings such an attractive team to invest in? Why did you choose ownership?
"I think lacrosse is such a growing sport. We did our homework on the demographics side, looking at what's going on with the youth level with clubs, and it's really expanding in the college space now, so we were kind of liking that. There's a big following in Philadelphia, and with Nick headquartering the league right here in Philadelphia, that was a big plus. … We know how to run sports teams, sell tickets and advertising and food and beverage. So we thought it would be a good fit with everything here in the sports complex."
Were you part of [the group] that pushed for the headquarters to be here in Philadelphia?
"I think a big part of it was Nick being a Philly guy. So I think they had offices in New York. They might still have a few people in New York, but the main stuff is here now. We just viewed that as kind of a plus of having a team here and having the league office here. You look at having the draft here now. We had the NHL draft here in 2014. The Eagles had the draft here two years ago, so now we have this one." (The NLL's draft was held at Xfinity Live! on Tuesday.)
Philadelphia is a heavy sports market, with a lot of professional sports teams. How exactly do the Wings plan to take some of that market share?
"It's such a sports culture here. I don't think you can get enough. When you look at the following, we're riding a pretty big high right now. What the Eagles did last year — the Super Bowl — and college, with Villanova and basketball. Villanova even plays a lot of games here at our place [the Wells Fargo Center], and we had Flyers and Sixers in the playoffs last year, so they're on the rise. The Phillies had a pretty good year, so I think this is a big appetite. I've lived all over the country. I've never seen something like this, embracing all sports."
Comcast Spectacor owns the Flyers as well. What will that relationship look like? Both teams' seasons will be going on simultaneously.