On January 31, Professional Box Lacrosse League (PBLA) Chief Executive Officer Carmen Kesner said “our vision is to implement a fast, physical, safe, and exciting experience for our fans and players. We believe we have been able to create this experience, but we feel there are elements we need to improve upon. For that reason, we are halting the season to re-organize the league and team operations,” on behalf of the PBLA, regarding its postponed season.
This prompted Mammoth Sports & Entertainment CEO Steve Donner to announce that through the efforts of players and coaches, lacrosse returned to Elmira last Saturday Feb. 25.
A challenge series consisting of four teams competed and will continue to compete into March, including the Elmira Renegades, Binghamton Bombers, Syracuse Spark and the Jim Thorpe All-Americans.
“When we all received the very surprising news that the season was being suspended I began to get calls immediately from the players and coaches. To a man they all said that they wanted to find the solution involving Elmira, as this is where it all started back in September. They saw how the community embraced the Renegades and they knew that I co-founded the league. Thankfully, we were able to put it all together for them,” said Steve Donner.
The schedule includes four weekends of double headers and there will be a fifth weekend of playoffs to determine the Challenge Series winner in mid-April.
In addition to the Challenge Series players and coaches are working together with organizers to host a players invitational tournament in Elmira featuring as many former PBLA teams that are interested in participating. The tournament is tentatively scheduled for March 18 and 19, this will hopefully be coming with a formal announcement within the week.
“We are grateful to Steve for working with us to make this a reality,” said Joe French of the Charlotte Bootleggers. “The vision Steve had for our sport was the best lacrosse we have ever played. We are grateful that he agreed to work to secure a conclusion to our season and to build a bridge to the long-term goal that he originally had.”
Ron Cogan, coach of the Syracuse Spark, added, “Elmira is the perfect arena for us to allow the teams, the players and the fans to see this through. The players had all bonded as teammates. We are grateful to the organizers for allowing us to continue to play this exciting version of our game…it means the world to the players.”