Tickets are still being sold for a Saskatchewan Rush preseason game on Nov. 16, but an impasse in labour negotiations between the National Lacrosse League (NLL) and players is putting that game and many others into doubt.
The Professional Lacrosse Players’ Association (PLPA) said they rejected the league’s most recent offer this week, as negotiations continue to stumble on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
A one-year bridge deal offered by the PLPA to the league to get training camps started was also rejected by the NLL, according to union player representatives.
“It’s just frustrating that we can’t come to some sort of agreement right now,” Vancouver Warriors forward Corey Small told 650 CKOM in an interview Friday.
Small has been outspoken on social media since the league rejected the bridge deal, suggesting the players are more committed to starting the season on time than the NLL.
He said the one-year offer was very similar to the previous CBA, with two changes:
- A $1,500 bonus to players for starting the season one month early
- Adding three per cent to the team luxury tax to pay for an additional roster spot, so it doesn’t come out of player salaries
The veteran athlete is one of few people related to the league who are speaking publicly about the labour dispute.
Team and league social media profiles are still promoting ticket sales and mascot reveals, while the Saskatchewan Rush still have a link on their website to buy preseason tickets for their Nov. 16 game against the Colorado Mammoth.
However, teams won’t comment on whether games are being cancelled and what will happen with ticket refunds.
Mentions of a Nov. 18 preseason game in Vancouver between the Warriors and San Diego Seals are nowhere to be found on the teams’ websites or social media feeds.
Asked whether their preseason games on Saturday and Sunday would go ahead, the Buffalo Bandits declined comment and directed 650 CKOM to contact the NLL for a statement.
The NLL said they would issue a statement “once we have an update.”
The Rush have so far not answered requests for comment.
“It’s pretty strange,” Small said of the lack of publicity.
He noted at the beginning of negotiations, early in 2018, the NLL and players made a “gentleman’s agreement” to keep talks quiet so they wouldn’t hurt the league’s perception.
However, with both sides digging in, he’s surprised there hasn’t been more communication with fans.
“We’re kind of getting down to the 12th hour here and we don’t have a deal in place,” Small said. “I’d be shocked if it stays quiet for much longer.”
The PLPA is asking for team owners to open up their books to the players, and tie salary increases to rises in the average revenue of the franchises — a strategy used in other professional leagues, like the NHL.
They’re also negotiating to preserve a player stake in expansion fees, which the NLL has removed from their CBA offers, so far.
Asked if a labour dispute delaying the season could hurt the league, Small said there’s still time to make a deal.
“I hope we don’t have to go down that road and find that out,” he said.
The NLL regular season is currently scheduled to begin Dec. 1 when the Rush travel to Georgia to take on the Swarm.