Premier Lacrosse League announces fanless, quarantined championship tournament for 2020 season


Sam Brettschneider | PLL

Whipsnakes LC attackman Matt Rambo celebrates with teammates after scoring the championship-winning goal in Philadelphia, PA on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019.

Earlier Wednesday, the Premier Lacrosse League announced the PLL Championship Series, a two-week, fanless championship tournament that will take place from July 25 to August 9, a huge step forward for the world of sports in the era of COVID-19.

“The Premier Lacrosse League is excited to be a leader in the return of pro sports this July,” said Atlas LC midfielder and PLL co-founder Paul Rabil in a press release. “Although we’ve pivoted our originally scheduled season to a fully quarantined, fanless model, our PLL Championship Series will bring sports fans an innovative and thrilling experience that only the best players in the world can provide. It’s taken a village of top-notch executives to develop, and this is a testament to the forward-thinking prowess that the PLL has become renowned for.” 

The PLL becomes one of the first pro sports leagues to announce a scheduled season of any kind during the coronavirus pandemic, which will provide fans with the excitement that has been lacking since mid-March. 

Originally, the 2020 season was set to kick off at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts on May 29. But back on March 13, Rabil was becoming more increasingly aware of the sports world being put on hold, as the NBA, NHL and MLB had all suspended their seasons.

On that day, he flew from New York City to Los Angeles and began to brainstorm new ways for the sport of lacrosse to play on during the pandemic. And on that flight, he told his brother Mike that he will think of ways for the league to do so, and created a Google Document titled, “PLL COVID-19 Scenario Planning” with 12 different season scenarios. The championship series was one of those 12.

The 16-day tournament will go like this: all seven teams will each play four games from July 25 to August 2, with matchups that will be randomly drawn in June. On August 4, the seven teams will compete in a single elimination tournament until August 9, where the 2020 PLL champion will be crowned. You can look at the formatting here.

This time period also allows the league to broadcast their games across the platform which was originally taken up by the 2020 Summer Olympics. But with the Olympics delayed until 2021, NBC Sports’ time slots opened, allowing the league to fill that gap.

Every game will be available to watch on NBC, NBC Sports and NBC Sports Gold. They will also be available to stream live on and the NBC Sports app.

The league has not yet announced a location for the tournament to take place. But they acknowledge that regardless of its location, medical staff and adhering to CDC protocols is a must.

“Health and safety comes first,” said PLL chief operating officer Andrew Sinnenberg in an interview with Inside Lacrosse. “We are focused on making sure this is a close-door event. Bringing this to a venue where we can quarantine as best we can and bringing all players and coaches and only the necessary PLL staff into one market, where everyone is going to stay put for the duration of the tournament so we can maintain the integrity of a quarantine. That will come with all of the necessary testing and medical protocols.”

Throughout the tournament’s entirety, a medical committee comprised of doctors, physicians and infectious disease experts will be available first-hand during all aspects of the tournament. 

Each of the seven teams will be able to include a maximum of 22 active players on their roster, none of whom are required to participate in the tournament. It’s estimated that fewer than 300 people will be quarantined at the tournament’s eventual location.

Last year, the PLL was introduced to the world for its inaugural season, which saw the Whipsnakes LC winning the first-ever championship. This time around, the league will see a seventh team taking the stage for the first time, the Waterdogs LC, which was unveiled back in January.

This innovative solution will fill the void and provide fans with excitement and a competitive nature on a national scale. Now more than ever, athletes, fans and the league alike are eager to begin playing in a world that has been effectively been shut down.