SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Utah has a new professional sports team as the Archers Lacrosse Club, which plays in the Premier Lacrosse League, moves to call Utah home.
The now-called Utah Archers are the reigning champions in the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL), having won the 2023 title against the now-Philadelphia Waterdogs. Utah was awarded the Archers as the PLL reorganized its competition format into a two-conference competition with geographic “home bases.”
Through its first five seasons, the PLL operated on a touring model where its eight teams did not have a geographic affiliation, or “home base.” Instead, all eight teams traveled together, playing in one market each game weekend. In the upcoming season, the league said it will continue to operate a 14-week, tour-based season, with eight of the league’s 10 regular season game weekends to be held in teams’ home markets.
Utah Archers will compete in the league’s Western Conference with the Carolina Chaos, Denver Outlaws and California Redwoods. The Eastern Conference will be filled with the New York Atlas, Boston Cannons, Philadelphia Waterdogs and Maryland Whipsnakes. When the PLL returns to Utah in 2024, the Archers will play two games over the course of a weekend.
“Utah’s sports landscape has evolved significantly over the last 20 years and it’s exciting to see an addition of another professional sports team to our state,” said Utah Governor Spencer Cox. “The State of Utah extends a warm welcome to Utah Archers and the Premier Lacrosse League!”
The decision to award Utah the Archers reportedly came after evaluating fan data, market performance, broadcast viewership and through a fan vote. Utah also hosted the PLL during the height of the pandemic.
“We’re thrilled to bring the reigning champion Archers Lacrosse Club to Utah sports across the state and region,” said PLL co-founder and CEO Mike Rabil. “Utah holds a special place in our league’s heart and history, as it was home to our 2020 ‘bubble season.'”
While the 2024 season schedule isn’t set to be released until January, the Archers will first represent the Beehive State when they compete in the 2024 PLL Championship Series in February in Washington D.C. The competition features six-on-six Olympic-style Lacrosse with the league’s top four teams in the 2023 season.
Jeff Robbins, Utah Sports Commission President and CEO, said lacrosse as a sport is well-positioned for future growth, particularly with the announcement that lacrosse will be included in the 2028 Olympic Summer Games in Los Angeles.
“Having the Utah Archers call our state their home will bring some of the greatest players in the world to the State of Sport,” said Robbins.
In addition to the PLL finding a home in Utah through the Archers, the league said it would be making new investments into the growth of youth lacrosse in the Beehive State.
The league plans to establish Archer-branded programs focused on grassroots participation to give greater access to the sport of lacrosse.