Atlanta: home of trunk-knocking rap music, CNN and the Minnesota Swarm?
Make that the Georgia Storm. St. Paul's favorite lacrosse team announced Friday that it is relocating to the ATL.
"Today is an exciting day as we open a new chapter in team history," said Swarm owner John Arlotta, aka the Norm Green of Minnesota lacrosse, in a press release. "The sport of lacrosse is growing at a rapid pace in Georgia and we're thrilled to bring the fastest game on two feet at the professional level to the Arena at Gwinnett Center."
Last week the team, which has played in the Xcel Energy Center for the past decade, announced its plans to leave the Twin Cities for the 2016 season, but didn't say where. The squad made the National Lacrosse League's postseason in seven of its 11 seasons (impressive by Minnesota standards) here.
According to an Atlanta Business Chronicle report, Swarm fans turned out in record numbers last year, averaging 8,700 people a game. But that wasn't enough to get the guys with those goofy net sticks out of the red.
With a capacity of 13,000, the Arena at Gwinnett Center in suburban Atlanta hosts minor league hockey and concerts, including AARP dreamboat Barry Manilow.
It sounds like part of the reason Swarm ownership was set on skipping town is the X's busy calendar.
"Xcel Energy Center is a popular event destination and availability in the arena is very limited during the NLL season," he said. "Our future schedule would have included more Sunday games, and longer gaps between home games, which is something our fans have voiced displeasure about during past seasons."
Had fans bought more beer and foam fingers, maybe we could have convinced them to stay. But cheer up, second-tier pro sports fans. There's always soccer.
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