Swarm Offer 21st
All those college kids who fantasize about
a front office job in pro sports could head to St. Paul for a field trip
and watch the operation of the Minnesota Swarm. A 21st
century professional sports model is on display for Swarm games at the
Xcel Energy Center where college students might take a lesson in game
day operations and promotions.
Can’t make it to the game? The National
Lacrosse League serves up Swarm games and those of other franchises on
the Internet. But do try to show up at one of the Swarm’s remaining
regular season home games, all scheduled during the next three Saturday
A visitor last Saturday found bag pipers
rehearsing more than 90 minutes before the 7 p.m. game. Closer to game
time, down on the field, the U.S. Army swore in a group of recruits.
Pre-game activities included a Hollywood
style introduction of Swarm players, with an on-field welcome by
selected fans, and also a Swarm player interview. There was also a
tongue-in-cheek, low key introduction of the Swarm’s opponent, Calgary.
The public address announcer struggled with whether to describe Calgary
as the “Roughnecks,” or the “Rednecks.”
Something lacrosse fans don’t struggle
with is pricey player salaries. Most players in the NLL make under
$20,000 per season and almost all have other jobs.
Game time included an occasional lacrosse
tutorial over the P.A. system. Reference was made to the 30 second game
clock and opinion offered that lacrosse is more similar to basketball
The audience included motorcycle
enthusiasts who were in town for a show and received a special ticket
offer from the Swarm. That’s part of the business plan for indoor
lacrosse teams like the Swarm who hustle for ticket buyers and sponsors
like the Onion, U.S. Army and Budweiser who appeal to
their young audience.
After the game, part owner Andy Arlotta
can be found thanking fans for their attendance. He and his dad,
John Arlotta, are in their first year of
ownership, although the franchise is in its fifth season.
John, a former health care executive and
Notre Dame grad, said the Swarm is a passion for his son. “He loves
this business,” John said.
John is enjoying the experience, too, and
that helps during a season where the Swarm will lose a lot of money,
perhaps deep into six figures. John wouldn’t specify a figure but hopes
two years from now the operation will be at break-even.
The Swarm announces average attendance of
about 12,000, although not all of it’s paid. Average ticket price is
about $20 with some seats selling for $63. The total attendance and
average ticket price both must go higher to improve the budget.
But John said their ownership of the team
is expected to be long term, partially because of Andy’s passion. The
other reason is professional sports franchises appreciate in value a lot
over time. A lacrosse franchise worth several million dollars today
might command $10 million or more in the years ahead.
For now John is reminded of his days as an
athlete and how he can identify with the competitive play he sees from
his players on the field. “I didn’t know I’d have that kind of reaction
to it,” he said.