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MLS founding father to lead National Lacrosse League

The National Lacrosse League (NLL) in the US has appointed Nick Sakiewicz, a founding executive of Major League Soccer (MLS), as its new commissioner with immediate effect.

Sakiewicz joined MLS in 1995 as an original founding executive and launched the league a year later along with a group of other executives, serving as vice-president of commercial sales. He went on to lead two inaugural MLS teams in Tampa, Florida, and New York between 1997 and 2006, serving as president and general manager for both clubs.

Sakiewicz also played a role in the development and construction of Red Bull Arena and helped in the sale of the New York MetroStars to energy drinks company Red Bull, which later rebranded the club as the New York Red Bulls.

In 2006, Sakiewicz helped found Keystone Sports and Entertainment, which later launched MLS franchise the Philadelphia Union. Sakiewicz had been serving as chief executive of Keystone up until his appointment at the NLL.

“Similar to soccer 20 years ago, lacrosse is a dynamic and rapidly-growing sport amongst an incredible demographic in North America,” Sakiewicz said. “I'm really looking forward to bringing my experience working in MLS to the NLL and helping everyone in the lacrosse community to grow the league and expand the sport.”

Sakiewicz replaces former NLL commissioner George Daniel, who in November announced that he was to step down from the role to start a new law firm. Daniel will remain as counsel to the league.

Steve Govett, chairman of the NLL’s board of governors, added: “Nick’s experience in helping to launch and grow MLS and several of its franchises was incredibly appealing, as was his passion for our product. His vision and expertise in league and franchise management, as well as his intimate knowledge of corporate partnerships and expansion, made him the ideal candidate to lead the NLL and take it to new heights.”

The NLL currently has nine teams and Sakiewicz told Lacrosse Magazine that he intends to raise this figure to 16 franchises. Two expansion clubs are reportedly close to being launched for the 2017 season.