NLL Commish Nick Sakiewicz Steps Down Name Jessica Berman Interim Commissioner

National Lacrosse League Announces the Departure of Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz After Six Transformational Seasons

National Lacrosse League (@NLL) Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz is stepping down after six-years of unprecedented growth. He was a major reason for the league’s recent financial success, new media partnerships with ESPN, ESPN+ and TSN in Canada, and expansion into new business spaces such as sports betting leading to an extension of their Official Sports Betting partnership with BetMGM enabling further integration into the League’s broadcast, social, and digital platforms. NLL Deputy Commissioner Jessica Berman will assume Commissioner duties until the new Commissioner selection process is completed. The Sports Techie community blog first chatted with Jess in 2019. Sakiewicz helped transform the largest and most successful professional lacrosse property in the world. “My decision to leave now is a personal one,” said Nick. He added, “The goals I had set out when I came to the NLL from soccer have been met, and it is time for me to pursue a new, exciting and different global opportunity as my next challenge.” He is leaving to pursue other interests but will continue to advise the league until June 30, 2022.

The NLL has announced that Deputy Commissioner Jessica Berman will assume the Commissioner duties.

Pioneering NLL Leadership
“The National Lacrosse League has seen transformative change and is poised for both future growth and success, thanks to Nick’s leadership during the past six years,” said Matt Hutchings, COO and EVP at Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, owner of the Colorado Mammoth, speaking as Chairman of the NLL Board of Governors. “On behalf of the NLL Board of Governors, we thank him and the league staff, for all they have done to put the NLL in this position and look forward to seeing what he does next.”

Under Sakiewicz’s watch, the NLL has experienced unprecedented growth, expanding from nine to 15 teams.  Under his leadership, the League also secured the two largest media rights deals in the history of the league, first partnering with B/R Live, Turner’s live streaming service, for all games to be streamed on the platform starting with the 2018–2019 season. The league then expanded its media platform even wider, partnering with ESPN in the United States and beyond North America and TSN in Canada, in a multiyear deal which began in December 2021. He and his leadership team also led the league through the pandemic and the league stoppage of play, a time when the NLL expanded by two teams, adding the first ever professional team in Fort Worth, Texas and bringing the NLL to Las Vegas (for the 2022-23 season), and drastically increased its social media presence and engagement with a smart, creative and innovative content strategy. A host of new non-endemic brand partners have also come on board during Sakiewicz’s tenure.

“I have enjoyed my time leading the NLL, and want to thank the lacrosse community, NLL’s amazing fans, players, our board, owners, partners, and, league staff for the support that has led us to the point where we are now, poised for greatness in the years ahead,” Sakiewicz said.  “Through thoughtful and strategic business planning the league expanded with the right investors, embracing the digitally native fan and expanding our media reach now with both ESPN and TSN for the first time in league history, the NLL and the sport of lacrosse on every level, is in a much better place with a brighter future than ever before.”

Additionally, Nick led a major rebrand of both the league’s narrative and NLL shield logo, putting more focus on the sport’s Indigenous roots, NLL history and commitment to diversity and inclusion. Franchise values have grown at 11 times under Sakiewicz from when San Diego entered the league in the 2018 season to the recent sale of the Saskatchewan Rush at a record price.  The league experienced an over 700% increase in revenue growth over the last five seasons (2017-2021), the biggest in its 36-year history for any time period. 

Prior to the NLL, Sakiewicz was a founder, operating partner and CEO of the Philadelphia Union and was a two-time Major League Soccer Executive of the Year. He helped launch the league as its first Vice President of Sponsorship Sales and went on to serve as the president and general manager of two inaugural teams, the Tampa Bay Mutiny and the New York/New Jersey MetroStars. He also led the efforts to build two soccer-specific stadiums, the first in New York/New Jersey, which led to the acquisition of the team by Red Bull and construction of the stadium and the second in Philadelphia paving the way for Major League Soccer’s 16th franchise the Philadelphia Union.   

Leadership Transition
Hutchings continued, “We understood the importance of having a strong team to carry on when the organization’s success provides opportunities for its leaders.  Therefore, several years ago, we very intentionally empowered Nick to strengthen our management team with the Deputy Commissioner position.  Jessica Berman has done a wonderful job in her short time in this role, and the league is in great hands with her and our experienced management team supporting her efforts.”

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Sports Techie, Nick began his term on January 1, 2016. His management team did a nice job of executing under his direction. An example being the use of Flowics Graphics as the primary graphics engine in the United States for the 2021-22 season. Sports betting is enjoying unprecedented growth across the US and Sakiewicz saw this trend coming. He said, “BetMGM has been an incredible partner in helping us build the NLL sports betting platform.”

As a lifelong lacrosse person, I say thank you, Nick.

NLL Has Enjoyed Unprecedented Growth and Engagement During The Six-Year Term Of Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz

Jessica is now ready and able to take the NLL Commissioner role to the next level.

Just make it officially so.

See you later sportstechie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!

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